David Hochoy brings the full company of Dance Kaleidoscope dancers into a swirl of introspection with his premiere of Igor Stravinsky's searing dance cantata, "Les Noces" (The Wedding), which premiered in Paris on June 13, 1923. Ninety years ago the feminist-centric choreography by Bronislava Nijinska created a stir. Hochoy's choreography takes the driving, relentless score to another level, setting aside Nijinska's depiction of a woman's duty to marry to ensure the next generation of children. Hochoy departs from Nijinska's dark, emotions-held-in-check, separation of bride and groom until the wedding ceremony and opens his dancers to partners dancing together, openly affectionate and sensitive to each other's hopes and fears. Nijinska's somber setting gives way to a sunny-ness, uplifting spirituality and celebration of equality. Hochoy replaces Nijinska's rigid movements with a growing expansiveness and fluidity, showcasing the finest potential of the eleven DK company members, ten paired as same-sex couples with the eleventh assuming the role of the official performing the marriage rites.
At the April 18 opening of the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University, Hochoy introduced a segment of "Les Noces" with a confession that it might be the hardest work he has undertaken despite having already choreographed Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring".
"It is difficult to navigate through Stravinsky's music. You have to count until it becomes part of you." In a way, Hochoy averred the music opened his choreographic concept, allowing him to ask, "What is happening inside." During a rehearsal on May 3rd, it was evident the dancers were working into and out of the music to reveal not only emotions but feelings about who they are beyond having fine technique. While the music is patently not pretty, the dancing transcends to show the qualities of grace.
Hochoy spoke with NUVO about choreographing "Les Noces", for which he received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to give voice to his sense of responsibility to discuss the issue of same sex marriage and to bring DK and the community into the conversation through the medium of dance.NUVO
: Why is Les Noces important for you to undertake at this point?David Hochoy
: I think it is the most challenging and complex score that I have ever worked on, and that includes a suite of Medieval music that I worked on for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Show that was very difficult to count. I think that at this stage of my career with so many pieces behind me that I was able to take Les Noces on and not be so terrified of it.NUVO
: Why is it important for an audience member to experience this new work?Hochoy
: Stravinsky was a genius, and a little bit crazy. The score is very layered and also has a lot of vitality. I think we have captured the essence of something that is very individual and unique to Dance Kaleidoscope, and which is reflected in the dancing, and also in the dancers. It is a piece that re-defines them in a wonderful way.NUVO
: How are you able to leap beyond the original structure of the ballet with a female/male marriage, to what is freely chosen between females or males?Hochoy
: I restricted myself to using same-sex couples and partnering, and listened to music a lot. I created a structure that was congruent with the existing ballet libretto, and then took it to places that seemed to fit.NUVO
: How do you move beyond the binding of one partner to what is a more balanced relationship?Hochoy
: In same-sex partnering there is a lot more equality. The men aren't always lifting and supporting the women.NUVO
: How do you deal with the blessings of parents in a marriage that might not be blessed?Hochoy
: We don't have any parents in the piece. Only a kind of priest/shaman/elder who presides over the marriagesNUVO
: What other challenges are you dealing with in creating this work?Hochoy
: The major challenge was trying to decipher the music, and seeing how it could fit the idea; then sustaining and developing it through the piece to a satisfactory ending. I didn't want it to be a political piece. I don't want to say same-sex marriage is good or bad, but simply to present it. Amazingly, it still is shocking.
Dance Kaleidoscope performs Barefoot Renegades
including the premiere of Hochoy's "Les Noces", May 16-19 at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, OneAmerica Stage, 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN. The program also includes Hochoy's "Afternoon of a Faun" and "Nine" by Chicago-based choreographer Brock Clawson. Tickets: $2-$40; Lunchtime Matinee $6; www.IRTlive.com
DK dancers Noah Trulock and Justin David Sears-Watson.
Photo © & courtesy of Drew Endicott
Dance Kaleidoscope's David Hochoy.
Photo © & courtesy of J Freeland