Choreographer Amy Morrow on the World of
Lady Gaga Dance
The show includes the work of Elizabeth Gillaspy (associate professor of ballet at Texas Christian University), Emily Hunter (dance teacher at Booker T. Washington School of the Visual and Performing Arts and Arlington Classical Ballet Academy), ACB's own Katie Puder, and Amy Morrow (choreographer, and teacher of Gaga in Austin and Tel Aviv).
Because we've already palled around with Puder, and Gillaspy and Hunter are fairly local, we set our sights on the globetrotting Morrow, and begged her to tell us more about the hows and whys of her contribution,
But first, the basics: Morrow is based out of our rival city of Austin for much of the year, but lives in Tel Aviv, Israel during the summer. She's also a communications specialist, which assuredly assists her in ability to work with all kinds. "I collaborate with a lot of artists on choreography who are not dancers, including my partner, Martin, our musician friends, videographers, and a cat named Slab," she says via email. And she started performing very close to home: "My first full-length evening performance was set to the Lion King soundtrack in my folks' living room."
How did you get involved with Avant Chamber Ballet's Women's Choreography Project? I was asked to perform in
Is choreography an area you've always felt needed an expansion in terms of representation? It is true that there are very few established women choreographers compared to the ratio of men, but I don't see that as an impulse for a woman to choreograph. I am a creative being so I create. I suppose if I had a green thumb, I would water my plants, and the plants wouldn't care what sex, ethnicity, or age I was as long as they were cared for.
When you think about the audience for this piece, what is the reaction you are hoping for? My goal is very simple: I just want to distract people for a moment. I hope they enjoy it; they don't have to love it or get it, but I do want them to experience at least one meaningful moment.
You're trained in, and teach, Gaga, which is very different than what most people immediately think of: Lady Gaga. Can you tell us about it? Gaga is a movement language which Ohad Naharin developed over the course of over 25 years and which is applied in daily practice and exercises by the Batsheva Dance Company members in Tel Aviv, Israel. The language of Gaga originated from the belief in the healing, dynamic, ever-changing power of movement.
Since Gaga is a language, is it something that can be "performed," so to speak? Gaga is a toolbox. We use the tools from class when we create and perform, but "performing" Gaga would be as odd as paying to see a carpenter hold their hammer. As a language it really unlocks a mover's own artistic voice, and that is what we use when we perform. It is all about how you use it.
How does Gaga touch your choreography? Did it affect the piece we're seeing this week? I appreciate how you said "touch your choreography." Movement touches on our habits, and while Gaga isn't a style, it does reveal habits. My struggle as a choreographer is to not be a slave to my own mannerisms. Gaga helps me be even more aware of my habits and reverse them if I like without being managed by them. If this doesn't make sense, you'll have to come to class and you'll get the sense of it.
So, out of curiosity, can anyone try Gaga, or would they need prior dance experience? Everyone 17+ is welcome in a Gaga class (if younger students ask, I give a separate special session for them only). No experience is necessary, just a body. It is a safe environment without mirrors, observers, or latecomers. Mikhail Baryshnikov has taken classes with us in Tel Aviv, Natalie Portman is a longtime supporter, and my Grandmom and even boyfriend--who's an IT specialist and musician--are also fans.
OK, we've already brought it up. Do you get the impression Lady Gaga a fan of Gaga? I haven't heard, but maybe one day. I actually took my first Gaga class from Ohad with a friend who was one of her dancers.
OK, how about some fun stuff: Give us your favorites. Color to see on stage: Anything (but Pepto-Bismol pink) Piece of dance memorabilia: My serendipitous ticket stub from Ohad's
Say anything you want, right now. Dancers, go outside everyday, listen to your pain, people are worth more than gigs, and more than being a perfect dancer, be human. Everyone else, dance and move a little every single day, and most importantly, thank you for being nice to us dancers trying to be human.
Show dancers and choreographers alike the thanks is all ours at
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Dallas and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.