Friday, October 8, 2010

Interview with Your Move! Choreographer Courtney Ramm

Courtney Ramm one of many young choreographers in New York City trying to break in and be seen. While this city is the mecca for dance, that also means the competition is stiff. This weekend Courtney has the opportunity to present her work at Manhattan Movement Arts Center's Your Move! Showcase. She has previously shown student choreography for Ballet Academy East (where we danced together) and Indiana University.

Read my interview below with Courtney about her upcoming piece and her choreographic process.

What is your piece called and what is it about? What can the audience except to see?
My piece is called "Still Lingering." It is a duet for myself and a male dancer. The piece explores ideas of containment, freedom, vulnerability, and dependence. There are many possible ways to interpret what the piece is about, however the audience can expect to see a duet which provides a glimpse into a complex relationship between a male and female dancer. The movement style draws from both classical ballet and modern dance.

How did you get involved in the MMAC Your Move! Showcase? What was the application process like?
I found out online that the MMAC was accepting submissions for the Your Move! Showcase and I submitted an application and video of "Still Lingering." It was a relatively simple process. I found out that my piece was selected 10 days prior to the upcoming show, so the difficult part is putting it together in such a short period of time! Luckily I knew a male dancer who was happy to rehearse and perform the piece, and so even with very little rehearsal time, the piece has come together.

I know you choreographed back at BAE, but have you had other training in composition or other showcases of your work? 
Soon after BAE, I went to Chautauqua for the summer where I had the opportunity to choreograph a ballet that won the Faculty Choreography Award and was performed at the 5,000-seat amphitheater in Chautauqua, NY. That was a very rewarding experience! I also took dance composition classes while at Indiana University. Although, I have to say that I strongly feel that choreography cannot be taught. Just like with any art, it is a talent from within that cannot be pushed on a student from without.

While at Indiana University, I had a unique opportunity to take part in a project called Hammer and Nail. I was paired with a music composition PhD student and we collaborated on the creation of a new work. The first year, the piece I created was called "Synthesis" and was a multi-media work based on the physiological process of protein synthesis. A video projection behind the dancers showed an incredible video of protein synthesis occuring in cells in real time. The second year I collaborated with my composer to create "Metro Graffiti," a Broadway/pedestrian-style modern dance piece that had a large cast of 25 dancers and was based on the chaos and multi-faceted nature of city life. It was wonderful to work with a composer who understood the theme of the piece so well and it was a highly rewarding experience.

What is the music for your piece this weekend, and why did you choose it?
The music is "Fauré Elegie in C minor, Opus 24." I chose this piece of music because I find it absolutely stunning and immediately had a dance choreographed in my mind from the first time I heard it!

What inspires you to choreograph?
Without a question, I am inspired to choreograph from the music. I am fortunate to have grown up in a very artistic family and I remember having classical music playing all the time in our apartment. I am also a musician and have been playing piano since the age of eight, so I have a very innate love and understanding of classical music. When I hear beautiful music, I can't help but want to dance and choreograph to it!

What has been the greatest challenge in pursuing a choreographic career as opposed to a dance career?
I am currently persuing a career in both performing and choreographing. I have not chosen one path over the other. I am dancing with two companies, IsadoraNow and Dance Visions, which both perform the rep. of Isadora Duncan as well as new contemporary choreography. I have numerous performing opportunities with both of these companies, so right now I am very fulfilled with everything I'm doing in terms of dancing, performing, and choreographing.

Any other upcoming projects?
I am performing with IsadoraNow at Symphony Space on November 19 and 20th in a full-length performance called A Simple Gesture. One piece I am particularly excited about is one that we as a company choreographed collaboratively to a piece of piano music that my mother, Adrienne Ramm, composed, entitled "Reminiscence Isadora." I am also performing with DanceVisions at The Hatch on October 23rd at the Jennifer Muller studios. The work is called "Dreamscapes" and is a creative multimedia dance-theater work based on the complex world of dreams. In addition, I plan on choreographing more works and having them shown at different venues in NYC.

MMAC Your Move! Showcase
Sunday October 10 at 6pm - Tickets $10
248 W. 60 Street


Erin said...

I saw Courtney's choreography at MMAC and it was incredible! I was blown away at how beautiful the dancing was and how breathtakingly the movements blended together. I had tears in my eyes the whole time because of the beauty of the whole piece and the performance of the dancers.

Taylor said...

I'm glad you liked her piece! I wasn't able to get to the show so thanks for the report :)