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A Choreographer's Process – Mathew Janczewski

April 30, 2018

By Brittany Shrimpton | MN Original Producer

Q&A with Dancer Timmy Wagner on Mathew Janczewski’s Creative Process and Style

Timmy Wagner is a company member of Arena Dances, freelance dancer, choreographer and teaching artist based in Minnesota. Below are excerpts from a conversation he had with producer Brittany Shrimpton about working with Mathew Janczewski, Artistic Director and Founder of Arena Dances.

Question: From your experience working with Mathew, how would you describe his process?

Answer: When Mathew has an idea for a piece, he often starts from an image place. He’s got an idea of how it starts or maybe how it ends. He’s got an idea of the sound. And those things, those initial kind of sparks drive where we begin.

And from there its kind of like, hmm, “Well, I had this idea of crashing waves and then wandering through them and then getting pushed back by them”, or whatever it might be. And so you’re like, “Oh cool! That sounds like a cool dream you had.” And then it’s the process of having a conversation that really takes whatever that image might be and putting it into some sort of frame that you can try out some movement that sort of speaks to that idea. And maybe that takes us in a really different direction from where he came in… But these kind of sections start to arise out of these different experiments that we’re doing.

Question: What were some of the processes used to create The Architect?

Answer: And then some other things that came about through this process were some chance operations. So we created, 10 or 12 isolated gestures and movements and then rolled the dice and each one was numbered and then put them in little tiny segments, like maybe six or seven different blocks of movement of these repeated gestures. So that they kept getting rearranged and put up against each other differently… And then we did all these other things like, “Okay, now cut it in half so you only move on this side of the space but then flip your front so that the side is front. Oh and then we’re gonna cut this part of the dance and then put it here.” So it’s a lot of juggling, not only the sequence, but then the spacial part of your brain having to adjust to you using only half the stage, and then flipping it on its side. And that just was a way to keep this “chancey” thing exciting and move it in a direction that would make sense for where we were heading with the final piece.

Questions: How do you describe Mathew’s movement style?

Answer: Mathew’s movement style is athletic, it’s liquid, it’s open-ended, it’s up for debate, it is spirally. It originates from your spine, it originates from your lats. It’s connected to the space. It’s grounded, it’s in and out of the floor, it’s dynamic. It’s fun…It is pretty hard to describe movement. It’s sharp, and it has this, kind of clarity and this edge to it. And then sometimes there’s this complete abandon where it’s just like you’re throwing your head around, you’re losing yourself in movement… I feel like he’s got a way with gesture, and he’s got a way with organizing movement so that it doesn’t feel predictable.

Additional Media
Cully Gallagher

Minnesota Music
Cloud Cult
Dem Atlas
Grolar Bears
The Dirty Dirties

Special Thanks
Emily Peck
Mary Jo Peloquin
Torre Edahl

The Architect Production
Margarita Jane Arguedas, Set Design
Heidi Eckwall, Lighting Design
Mathew Janczewski, Choreographer
Rachel Jendrzejewski, Dramaturg
Meena Mangalvedhekar, Projections
Nicole Fae Newman, Makeup Design
Timmy Wagner, Dancer

Related Links
Arena Dances
The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts
Tek Box Theater
The Southern Theater

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2018. All rights reserved.


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