Tempest In A Teacup
A major misconception surrounding choreography – and all arts – is that creative and innovative ideas are always pulled from thin air, or achieved through 'inspiration.'
by Mariah Steele
Mariah Steele is the choreographer and Artistic Director for Quicksilver Dance, a modern dance company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a major in Anthropology and minor in Dance, where she studied intensively with Ze’eva Cohen and Rebecca Lazier. She combined these two passions by studying traditional Kandyan dance in Sri Lanka for two months and writing her anthropology thesis about the experience. She went on to perform professionally in New York City in the companies of James Martin, Beth Soll, and Kelley Donovan. In 2008, she moved to Boston, where she has danced for Sokolow Now!, the Anna Sokolow archival company, Nell Breyer, Sara Smith and currently performs with Peter DiMuro’s Public Displays of Motion and Rebecca Rice Dance. In December 2011, Ms Steele graduated with a Masters Degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she studied non-profit management and conflict resolution, writing a thesis about using dance in peacebuilding. Mariah's choreography has been presented at esteemed venues in both Boston and New York City including MIT, the Boston Center for the Arts, Harvard University, SUNY Purchase and Brooklyn's John Ryan Theatre. In 2013, The Boston Globe named Mariah one of six “rising talents” in the Boston arts scene. Currently, Mariah Steele teaches modern dance, dance history and world dance cultures at Endicott College in Beverly, MA.
In contrast, another dance on the program, “The Constant Effort of Beginning,” which I choreographed with the dancers in Fall 2013, started with no clear concept except for an intriguing piece of music. After each rehearsal, I would take stock of what we had made and ask myself, “Based on what we made today, what comes next? What flows out of this? Where is the material leading?” Then I would follow my intuition, rather than my analytical mind, to develop material and ideas for the next rehearsal. Improvisations and 'accidents' in rehearsals became fodder for what came next. (For example, a 6 foot 5 inch male dancer emailed me a month into the rehearsal process and asked if he could audition: new material grew!) The result is a dance in which individuals segue in and out of dancing together among constantly shifting groupings. The fabric of the imaginary world disintegrates and then reforms, repeatedly, growing more robust with each rebirth. During its creation, if you had asked me what the dance was about, I would not have been able to tell you. I had to live with the dance and watch it several times before coming to an understanding of its ultimate meaning. This process of discovering what I am making at the same time that I make it is incredibly satisfying, intellectually stimulating and awesome in the true sense of the word. If you come see the show, I look forward to hearing your interpretations of the dance as well.
June 13 - 22 Montreal Fringe Festival