'Strange Planet' requires dancers to improvise during performance
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Saturday, February 23, 2013
2/23/13 at 5:20 AM
Jordan Fuchs is a choreographer, yet he's not completely certain what will happen when his company performs "Strange Planet" this weekend.
But then, Fuchs never knows exactly what will happen once a performance of this evening-length piece begins.
That is the point of Fuchs' creative process, one that takes the idea of collaboration among creators and performers to a logical, if occasionally unnerving, extreme.
"A few years ago," Fuchs said, during a recent telephone conversation, "I moved from New York City to take a teaching job at the Texas Women's University. And I'll be the first to admit, that was a pretty disorienting change for me.
"But it also started me thinking about disoriented states in general," he said. "I was curious how to maintain that sense of not knowing what is going to happen, without everything degenerating into chaos. This piece plays with trying to find that balance, trying to create a structure in which each performer can make his or her own choices as to what to do, and still be able to move the piece forward as a whole."
"Strange Planet" is the first major event of the 20th annual New Genre Festival, presented by Living Arts of Tulsa.
The festival, taking place over the next two weekends, features artists and performers whose work combines different styles, media and technologies to redefine traditional art forms, including painting, dance, music and theater.
Fuchs and five other dancers will perform "Strange Planet," which is accompanied by an original score created, performed and - in the course of the performance - manipulated by composer Andy Russ.
And each member of the company will have unique input into what will happen each night on the stage of the Tulsa PAC's Doenges Theatre.
"In one sense, this piece works the way a jazz band works," Fuchs said. "There is a structure, these iterations of certain materials. They serve as cues for the performers, and for the audience as well. In between those cues, there are open sections in which the performers will improvise.
"It's so easy to get habituated to a certain way of doing anything, even dance," he said. "We wanted to create something that would be a continual challenge, that would be different every time it's performed. Even the music changes from performance to performance."
With so much of the "authorship" of the piece that is "Strange Planet" given over to his fellow performers, one can only wonder if Fuchs can be credited as its choreographer.
"It is very much my vision," he said. "I created the basic structure out of which the individuals' movements arise, and their contributions, while their own, are directed in such a way as to further the vision of the piece."
Fuchs himself is a relative latecomer to the world of dance - he was in college when a roommate suggested they attend a modern dance performance.
"It was the first time I had ever seen that combination of great creativity and extreme physical virtuosity," he said. "It obviously had a huge impact on me. If I hadn't gone to that one dance show, I probably would be a lawyer now."
What: Part of the New Genre
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Where: Doenges Theatre, Tulsa
PAC, 110 E. Second St.
Tickets: $10-$20. 918-596-7111,
Original Print Headline: Show allows dancers to improvise
James D. Watts Jr 918-581-8478
The Jordon Fuchs Dance Company performs a scene from "Strange Planet," which will be part of the 20th annual New Genre Festival, presented by Living Arts of Tulsa. Courtesy