2245 East Washington Boulevard was full of creators last month; emerging movement artists filtered in and out during the space’s 2245 Choreographic Residency, which provides space and resources for Los Angeles artists. This May marked the second annual 2245 Choreographic Residency. Along with the space’s Making:LA residency, 2245 indicates a larger outreach effort by L.A. Dance Project to support and facilitate the creativity of the Los Angeles dance community.
This year, the residency spanned three weeks and hosted eight new projects. 2245’s only application criteria are that the work be multidisciplinary, intersecting with one or more mediums besides dance. Peter Tomka, Jinglin Liao, and Taehee Kim presented work the first weekend, while Ghislain Grellier and Katherine Helen Fisher & Safety Third Productions showed in-progress pieces the second. The residency concluded with works by Curious Minds LA, Ausytn Rich & Collaborators, and The Earthians at the third week’s end. Each guest spent a week working in the space creating a new work. Here, I interview one artist from each week about their time at 2245.
Peter Tomka’s “The Coliseum, The Observatory, The Parliament, The Studio”
Choreographer Peter Tomka’s residency project began as a pitch to recreate his work “Home Plate,” which he created on softball players from his hub at UC Riverside. In home plate, the team carries a structure made of large-scale photographs to the softball outfield, then disappears into the the structure. Eventually, each member breaks through the photographs and runs home. For this iteration, Tomka began with large-scale photographs of 2245, stretching them and making frames. His time in the space, however, transformed this new project.
“The work developed away from having the stretched photographs take a united shape,” Tomka explained. “They were all kept singular during the performance, and I worked with one dancer, Noah Guthier. Together, we planned a performance held together by five markers and four arrangements.”
While the five markers were rooted in a photo series in which Tomka climbs out of his studio, the four arrangements were indicated in the title: the coliseum, the observatory, the parliament, and the studio. Guthier performed tasks accordingly, and Tomka documented the performance and arranged the space.
“I arranged the scenography by placing the photographs in the foreground to exhaust the audience’s sightline of the space and of Noah,” Tomka said.
LADP helped to connect Tomka with Guthier, while also organizing a space for people to gather and see Tomka’s work in one place, for which he is grateful.
“The overall support from the team at LADP facilitated my creation process for certain,” Tomka explained.
Katherine Helen Fisher & Safety Third Productions’ “Linear Sympathy”
The idea was not that a finished, polished project would emerge by the end. The 2245 residency is geared toward research, emphasizing the birth of the creative process by providing the tools and resources for open experimentation.
Director/choreographer Katherine Helen Fisher worked with her production company, Safety Third Productions, to create an experience that explored gaze and perspective, using a complex multimedia setup that displayed footage as it was danced live. Multimedia display was designed by Fisher’s husband and creative partner, Shimmy Boyle, who also acted as the piece’s director of photography. The residency’s generous allowance of space and time let her leave her camera rig in the studio all week. This way, she could reallocate setup and takedown time, using it instead to work and experiment.
“There would have been no way to get all the work done, had we not had the ability to set it up as a laboratory,” Fisher said. “This way, we were able to use two cameras: one where photographer Sinziana Velicescu took stills that then projected on the wall, and one wirelessly projecting Steadicam footage as it was taken.”
Steadicam operator Nathan Kim, who also works as a dancer and choreographer, provided a unique movement perspective while filming LADP dancer Patricia Zhou as she danced through the space. Kim’s skill set allowed Fisher to choreographer the camera’s pathways as well: Fisher called cues live during the performance as a way of allowing the audience a look into process.
Fisher’s piece also accumulated several collaborators in the making. Residency coordinator Todd McQuade facilitated collaborative connections with composer Josh Kaddish and with Fisher to fashion house Eckhaus Latta, which costumed the piece.
“This is one of my favorite things that I made in the last several years: we gelled together so well as a group,” Fisher explained. “It was sort of a one-night-only, something we loved happened, and I knew it was special—I’m hoping now to hone it and perform it at some other venues.”
Austyn Rich & collaborators’ “BL**DY SPAGHETTI”
Rich’s creation, centered on two navy sailors with an intense unspoken relationship. He was inspired by historical narratives of queer youth and young soldiers. During his research, he found that soldiers on the frontlines were often people of color, and he found that he felt a similar dynamic today as a gay man.
“I connected that and wrote this sort of short story, about these two men who have this very loud but silent conversation: as if it’s their last meal together,” Rich explained. “It works as a circuit, a training boot camp in terms of structure. It gives the audience a voyeuristic point of view.”
The layout of 2245 became a large part of Rich’s setting, which he added to with his own resources. The ability to set up shop in the space for the week was instrumental in set-building; it allowed Rich to continue to experiment without having to set up or tear down, much like it allowed Fisher to use such extensive technology. He built a set indicative of a locker room using cubbies and benches, then finished the ambience with lights provided by LADP.
“I always end up making do with what I have, and I think it turned out really nicely,” Rich said.
Rich and collabrators created the piece in two days in order to maximize the time he’d have for refining and exploring. For him, the choreography was sort of a challenge—a speed round, so that he could use his time in the LADP space to gather feedback. During the next three days, he brought in mentors and even curators/directors from MOCA and The Armand Hammer Museum to view and reflect. In this first phase of the work, he was able to solicit and respond to feedback that could help him push it to its next stage—literally.
Rich will perform “BL**DY SPAGHETTI” at REDCAT’s NOW Festival, which presents new works. He is currently in the process of looking for a producer, as he enters phase two.
For more information on L.A. Dance Project and its residency programs, click here.
For information and tickets for Austyn’s perform at NOW, click here.
Featured image: LA Dance Project 2245 Residencies -Katherine Helen Fisher – Linear Sympathy – Photo: Sinziana Velicecu for Safety Third Productions