Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FRIGID New York Interview - Brianna Stark of Aurelia and Imago

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Duane Burnett

Name: Brianna Stark
Show: Aurelia and Imago

How did you first get involved in theatre?

Performing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I first began dancing when I was 5 years old; I went to my neighbor's dance recital and decided to take dance lessons soon after that. Since then, my path and approach as a performer has been ever evolving, and so my experience of theatre has often become new again. A few years ago creating on my own was very unfamiliar and daunting, so was improvisation, and now I feel most comfortable in a theatrical approach which combines both of these aspects.

Who are your biggest influences?

I have had many great teachers over the years, which I am fortunate for from my early days as an aspiring dancer in Winnipeg, Canada at the School of Contemporary Dancers, to studying at the Tamalpa Institute, in California; while influenced by founder American Dance legend Anna Halprin who was revolutionary in connecting healing and the arts; during my years at the Tamalpa Institute, I was especially inspired by my teacher Daria Halprin a pioneer in the field of Movement-based Expressive Arts Therapy, and my experiences working one-on-one with mentor G. Hoffman Soto, who I hosted in my home Vancouver to work on improvisation and the creation of my solo "In Search Of...". I have also been privileged to study the creative process of the past Pina Bausch, which resonated with me as a genuine and intelligent way to creativity. But most of all, my biggest influences continue to be artists who truly speak from the heart through breathtaking performances, and those who rise above their circumstance to push the limit of what people may believe. Those are the kind of talents that are an anchor for me, bringing me back to the reason why performing can be worth the many challenges along the way.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

Aurelia and Imago is a energetic and visual work. The piece incorporates a video projection, which runs throughout the performance and is a stream of striking images. The movements range from raw to structured and are at times captured within the video projections. The piece touches on many themes from the relationship to the unknown, to the search for union, metamorphosis, and the relationship of essence to matter. The costuming is also key to the show; I designed a costume which could be used in many ways. It resembles a cocoon or snake skin and magnetically connects objects, which become props for the piece. For now, I will not say too much more, but it started with an idea of how these particular objects catch light with movement, which evolved into something more symbolic. An idea, which soon became an involved and time-consuming project for someone who does not know how to sew, but I couldn╩╝t imagine the piece without it.

What inspired you to create Aurelia and Imago?

I wanted to create a piece on myself and spend time simply exploring through improvisation. I began improvising with various combinations of movement tasks and it evolved from there. I also wanted to capture a feeling of excitement. I used to listen to trance techno when I was a teenager. And while I have grown out of this fascination, I still can get this feeling when I hear it that gives me energy, and I wanted to create something that contained that same kind of feeling.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

This has been mostly a solo production since the beginning. The solo was created over the period of a year. I worked on my own for the majority of that time. When it came close to production time, I began working with a costume designer, Katherine Soucie, who helped me with the design of one of the costumes - a dress, which is constructed from recycled hosiery and painted. I also had a lighting designer and stage manager, Heather Young, help me with the lighting design and technical aspects of bringing the work into the theatre. After I had conceptualized the video projection I hired Paul Verge and Jay Gavin to take on the editing. Jay later filmed the work and together we worked on creating the current video projection which incorporates the original projection and some of the footage from the dance.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

After FRIGID, I will be performing Aurelia and Imago in the Montreal Fringe festival in June. I have also been commissioned to create a solo for a dancer in Winnipeg, which will be a good opportunity to focus on creating, rather than wearing both hats as interpreter and choreographer as I have mostly been doing of late. I will also be writing my real estate exam in the next few months and am not quite sure yet where that will all take me.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,what would it be?

I do really hope that people will come to see this show. It has received a lot of very positive feedback in performances so far, and I believe it is an interesting and powerful piece that will be enjoyed. Most of all I have worked hard on creating this piece and would just really like to share it. The performances during the FRIGID Festival will be offered free of admission; this is kind of a one time special scenario for this place and time and hope that people will take up the opportunity.

Aurelia and Imago
By Brianna Stark

The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street

Thu 2/25 - 9:00 PM
Sun 2/28 - 4:00 PM
Mon 3/01 - 9:00 PM
Wed 3/03 - 7:30 PM
Fri 3/05 - 4:00 PM
Sat 3/06 - 7:00 PM

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