Dance Like Everyone Matters at SCD

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Jeanne-Marie Branche.

Sarasota Contemporary Dance continues to bring fresh new choreographers to the Sarasota dance floor this weekend with the June performance of its summertime In The Round series. Starting at 7pm in the company’s Rosemary District location, the performance will feature new works-in-progress by three up-and-coming choreographers—Jeanne-Marie Branche, Madeleine Wilcox, and Elizabeth Zuccaro—and give audience members the opportunity to offer their own feedback and opinions on the developing work. SRQ caught up with Branche to talk about the debut of her piece, Causal Nexus.

“I wanted to portray that everyone in this world and this life has an important role,” Branche says. And so she found inspiration for Causal Nexus in, of all things, Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is, in its way, perhaps the simplest formulation of a much grander proposition that Branche truly believes and wants to bring forward in her choreography. “Everyone impacts everyone and everything,” she says. “And everyone matters.”

It's a weighty proposition and an even weightier task to put across in dance what philosophers and theologians have struggled to argue through entire books. But that’s perhaps the benefit of dance: the ability, when done right, to cut through all the words and convey the ineffable through a bend of the leg or tilt of the head. That Branche had less than a week to finalize the choreography, work with the dancers, design the lighting and fit the costumes, certainly doesn’t make the task any easier, but that’s just what a summer intensive is. At least she wasn’t alone.

A strong believer in collaboration, an important part of Branche’s process involves allowing the dancers themselves to have a role in the choreography. After all, everyone matters. Working with six dancers, ages ranging 15-42, she wants each of their personalities to come through, to complement the piece. She’s not looking for that synchronized swimming effect, where the individual is subsumed by the whole and cast like clones, but something more organic and simply human, where variation is not the same as imperfection. “Movement is just even more beautiful when each dancer individualizes the choreography,” Branche says. “And they all created the piece with me.”

After each performance, SCD Artistic Director Leymis Bolaños Wilmott will join the choreographer onstage and lead a discussion about the new work, allowing audience members to chime in on what they felt, what they liked and what they may suggest as an improvement. But even if there is room for improvement, Branche hopes the central message of Causal Nexus shines through.

“Everyone matters,” she says. “And I hope people leave the show translating that into life.”

In The Round: June begins tonight at 7pm at Sarasota Contemporary Dance. A virtual presentation will be available June 19 at 7pm.

Pictured: Jeanne-Marie Branche.

For ticket information click here

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