Emory Report
September 21, 2009
Volume 62, Number 4


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September 21, 2009
Questions for…Anna Leo
Family and poetry inspire Emory choreographer

By Jessica Moore

Inspired by her family, choreographer and Emory Dance Program Director Anna Leo presents “…me so much nearer home,” a sequence of elegant dances blending delicate gesture with physically driving movement that honor the nature of family and community.

Performances are Sept. 25-26 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 27 at 3 p.m., Schwartz Center, Dance Studio. For tickets ($5): 404-727-5050, www.arts.emory.edu.

Emory Report:
What can audiences expect in this performance?
Anna Leo:
This concert is defined by my desire to present a body of work connected by a theme, and to collaborate with artists in other disciplines. I looked to create a structure or format that would allow the elements involved - movement, poetry, music and design - to connect in a cohesive performance setting. The concert runs approximately one hour with no intermissions, and there are movement ideas that carry over from one piece to the next. Each of the four dances is introduced by a poem, and each dance has a score composed specifically for the piece. more

ER: Did poetry shape the order of your program?
Sometimes the dances were created first and the poems written in response to the dances. Other times the poem and the dance were created simultaneously or the dance was inspired by an existing poem. I have varied the presentation formats for the poems in the performance.

The dances are sequenced chronologically in order of my relationship to the honored family member: the dance dedicated to my mother is first, siblings are next, followed by the dance dedicated to my husband, and concluding with the dance honoring my daughter. more

ER: Did you discover anything new about the works you re-set?
For me, a key part of every dance is always the dancers. I enjoy highlighting the distinct qualities of individual dancers, and allowing these characteristics to influence and shape the work. For example, in the duet, I am using the same dancers who originally created the piece as they were instrumental in shaping the movement vocabulary, the initial character and feel of the piece. In restaging the work, I focused more closely on dynamics such as energy and nuance, rather than the movement material. We refined the subtle ways in which the dancers relate to each other allowing the piece to further develop a context. more

ER: Why do you feel like you gravitate toward family as inspiration?
I often begin my choreographic investigations with lists of words that will trigger the making of movement material. As a starting point for the trio I asked my brother and sister to draw up individual lists of characteristics that described each of our siblings. The one characteristic that appeared on all of our lists was the idea of the importance of family. more

Read the full conversation with Leo.