Zoetic Dance Ensemble's GURL Interprets A Survival Kit of Sorts

GURL, Zoetic Dance Ensemble's newest venture, highlights the themes of friendship, heroism and individuality among ...you guessed it, girls. BANG! talked to Melanie Blanchard, Zoetic Dance Ensemble's Director and Co-Founder about the conception of the upcoming piece and the creative explorations inherent with the process.

BANG! GURL celebrates the veracity and candor of female dynamics. How does dance facilitate this transaction?

Melanie Blanchard Working collaboratively, we generate movement/text/vocals based on discussions of various topics, shared experiences, personal stories, etc. This material becomes part of the finished piece in different ways, either through interpretation or referencing or just as a step in the process that leads to the next.The good or interesting or funny or relevant stuff rises to the top to create the final work. Other things that come up as part of our method of working may become threads through the work, or just serve to support the final piece as part of the creative process. Sometimes we create movement we never use, but creating it was an important step in moving to the next moment. The process is not necessarily exclusive to the subject matter, but in making the work for GURL we did find that it was important to be vulnerable and open with each other to build the level of trust and empathy we needed to achieve our goals for the work.

BANG! How does GURL define heroism?

Melanie Blanchard We don’t seek to define heroism for every person; the world is full of truths. What we are presenting is a interpretation of how people can make it through a tough world by building a community of kindness, love, empathy, and honesty. 

Some people get this from parents or family, some of us are raised by wolves, but eventually we all need take the emotional risk and find other people who can give us the support we need to make bold, brave choices; to celebrate when we succeed, catch us when we fall, and give us a good ass-kicking now and then. 

BANG! Are the themes of friendship, identity and heroism mutually exclusive or are they schools of thought that blend and build with and off one another?

Melanie Blanchard Blend, build, intersect, it’s all very active.

BANG! What does GURL offer to the male audience member?

Melanie Blanchard Sexy dancers eating chicken wings in their underwear. Something for everyone!

BANG! Are there any archetypal roles of women that the dancers will express?

Melanie Blanchard You mean like who is Carrie, who is Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda? We created this work through personal stories and experiences, but as we have shown along the way, the feedback leads us to believe that the themes are universal. And not just for women, for everyone. We are all seeking acceptance and love and the desire to believe that we are worthy of being accepted and loved. We all have relationships that fail, succeed and fail again, whether they are friendships, family relationships, business associations, etc.

BANG! Was GURL inspired by Women’s History Month or was that a coincidence?

Melanie Blanchard There are no coincidences!

BANG! Is there a certain generation of women that GURL is conveying?

Melanie Blanchard Not specifically; there is a nice range of experience among the creators of the work so it crosses the generational divide. We did find that the issues our 20 something artists are dealing with are very similar to those I or one of the more experienced dancers have been through, but with a uniqueness that speaks to their time. For example, every woman deals with body image. During my 20’s we had the boyfriend jeans, while now girls are lucky to get an arm into the skinny jeans hipster guys wear, but the common desire to feel beautiful within a relationship is the same.

BANG! Why did friendship, identity and heroism get chosen as the presiding themes?

Melanie Blanchard We make art about life; the personal stories and experiences we have and those we witness in the world, and report our findings to the world through our medium. It’s social commentary. We’re real people so we make work about real things like life and work and family and choices and love and fear and pop culture. It’s completely accessible and relevant to a wide variety of people.

BANG! What is the end-goal for a take-home impression for an audience member of GURL?

Melanie Blanchard Success is hard to measure because its personal, but I will be happy if audiences experience something new, had a good laugh, and enjoyed a cold beer while watching contemporary dance.

Void of pretensions, Zoetic Dance Ensemble has been hitting the nail on the head for years bringing people together through movement. Immerse yourself in the journey: GURL premiers at the Southwest Arts Center Performance Theater on  Saturday, April 20th with one show at 3pm and the second and final at 8 pm. You can catch future performance announcements and all the other information at their website http://zoeticdance.org/ or on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/ZoeticDanceEnsemble.

-Miles Jenson