Our process is fast, then slow. Throwing ideas out there, building and building, then tearing it down and changing it around. We are not at all the same; that seems to surprise people. We both love to explore human nature and to respond to how the dancers interpret the physical material and the ideas. Yes, that is similar. We love to work with people who love to work, but who know how to have some serious fun.
This usually comes from either a) the movement and really going deeply into exploring what the body has to say, or b) from social/political stirrings that resonate with us. For Mochniej, it often comes from his feeling about the visual world and interpreting where those images come from emotionally. For Monteros, improvisational writing, developing connections between images, writing poetry, and interpreting all the emotional forces behind this work are frequent methods of exploration.
We do a lot of generating ideas but a lot more reworking! As we work with dancers longer, we find we understand each other quickly and their creative energies and strengths come to play in how the direction of the work gets pushed. This is especially true as we are trying to go to places we haven’t been before, or haven’t been with them before.
This is the longest period, I think. Trying to make the connections between ideas deeper, to flesh things out. I love this phase.
So much of Finalizing is about performance and transitions. Refining the performance is one of our favourite things and a place where we feel imagination and the poetry of the body is really explored. Even at this stage, we are not afraid to completely restructure the work! As well, we put a lot of energy into the visual look whether it is simple or technically complex. Collaboration here is so key to getting it all together. Dancers, designers, choreographers all getting on the same page. It takes so many people to make a work that resonates.
Our Individual Approaches to the Work
I respond first at the emotional level, at the level of belief. I believe deeply in what we are doing. I believe in risk, in artistic expression that takes risks in order to elicit a response. I want to engage people, to touch people personally. They can be disgusted, bored, angry, moved, inspired: I’m not searching for a happy ending based on a formula. I try to share with the public my final thought for that moment. I think both Monteros and I do this, while simultaneously trying to find and maintain a balance between dramaturgy, choreographic development, an abstract movement language, and an expression of the visual world through visual statement. Wojciech Mochniej
I believe that movement vocabulary which comes from a deep, authentic source has a resonance that communicates, and that we have the ability to read and sense what the body tells us. As a result, I am searching for the place where movement resonates in the dancer and with the audience – not skill or refinement, but voice. In addition, I am inspired to explore and reveal the beauty of the body moving in a way that does much more than admire the artist as an athlete. I find the common definition of beauty as elegant and pleasing to the eye and emotions, and the dancer as a beautiful object, awkward, uncomfortable and narrow. I am fascinated by the possibility of a body shaping that moves from grotesque to transcendent, of discovering beauty in and arising from the grotesque. I think both Mochniej and I try to raise questions about life by exposing aspects of the human condition, and that we create layers in images partly in an effort to stimulate thought and draw attention to the multifaceted complexity of the human condition. Melissa Monteros