A grasp of a hand can be affectionate, but the gesture also can be aggressive. Exploring through dance and movement the fine line of human behavior that slips back and forth in an instant, the Brian Brooks Moving Company will present the incubator premiere of “Wilderness” on the evenings of April 29 and 30 at the American Dance Institute in Rockville. The show will have its world premiere from June 9 to 11 at The Kitchen in New York City.
Internationally acclaimed choreographer Brian Brooks was inspired to create the show while watching his dancers in the studio. “The piece is built upon organic structures so (the title) ‘Wilderness’ seems to evoke that type of environment,” Brooks said of the wild play that takes place. He aims that the audience come away with a heightened sensation of the physical world. “A simple catch of another human becomes amplified” in the show, he said. “We make a really big deal out of a touch. A grasp. A hold. A push. A pull.”
The setting is a technological wilderness–not a literal one–that features a modern, sleek and pristine white room. There is a surprise in the set, but Brooks wants to keep it under wraps until the premiere. He has created sculptural installations for his shows over the years and hints that may be a part of his latest as well. Each installation grows from the same concept as the choreography and the investigation of movement in his pieces. “It’s something I have never done before, and I think it should be a real event,” Brooks said.
This production will be the third collaboration for Brooks and lighting designer Joe Lavasseur. “Working with Brian is really like creating this environment that dance can inhabit rather than lighting specific pieces,” Lavasseur said. The New York City-based designer attends as many rehearsals as he can to watch the dancers’ movements. “It’s really just using intuition and trying to capture something a little deeper,” he said of the lighting. “I think that when you have work this specific you can get really specific in the lighting, too, and when you can do that, I feel like you can make really beautiful things that are not obvious.”
Four drummers will play through Jerome Begin’s percussion score as the eight dancers perform. The piece involves a synchronization between visual art, music and dance. “Each could stand on its own,” he said. “You actually could just see the dance by itself and get a lot out of it. You could just see the installation in a gallery and you’d be like ‘That’s a lot to think about,’ and you could hear the music played and walk away so each holds its own so strongly that together they create a fourth (element) from a combination of them.”
While most dancers morph into choreographers, “it’s backwards for me,” Brooks said. “I had an urge to be a choreographer when I was very young. I started choreographing when I was 14 and I started a dance company. It was a youthful endeavor, but I’ve made a dance every year since and that was 1988. … Choreography for me has been a deep rooted passion, and something I could not resist. My dance training and professional performance career was in order for me to be a more informed choreographer.”
Brooks’ career is filled with accolades, including a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the Joyce Theater’s (2013-14) Artist Residency. His company has presented throughout the U.S. as well as in Montreal, South Korea and Düsseldorf, Germany.
Brooks is driven professionally by one word: curiosity. “I am impatiently waiting to see the dances that I haven’t yet even imagined,” he said. “I’m driven by the potential of what could be created. I’m driven by the idea of the unimagined, the unmade, the what-yet-hasn’t-happened.”
“Wilderness” is the result of about 400 hours of in-studio time and 400 hours outside working with collaborators and letting his mind inspire new movements. “Part of this piece has come out of daydreaming,” Brooks said. “I have forced time into my schedule this season to contemplate the art that I am making and the music that Jerome has created and what it might evoke.”
The audience can expect to see an action event, according to Brooks. “We are really looking at the art form of dance to engage the viewer on (another) level,” he said. “There are things in dance, and in this piece in particular, that we are trying to really highlight. I think people will get aspects of the human condition that are most uniquely seen through the lens of dance. …I feel like in this show there is an intimacy to the dance piece that I think you can’t get to in many ways, like through a film or music.”
For information, visit www.brianbrooksmovingcompany.com. For tickets to the ADI show, visit www.americandance.org. American Dance Institute is located at 1570 East Jefferson St., Rockville.