Increasingly, the world of contemporary dance includes performers of various backgrounds. For choreographer, Maree ReMalia, many types of artists interest her. In her latest piece, The Ubiquitous Mass of Us, ReMalia utilizes trained and untrained dancers, as well as creative professionals in theater, sound, writing, visual arts, healing arts, arts administration, and fashion.
The work explores identity, and therefore suits the diverse cast of nine well. Quite beautifully, ReMalia says each member of the group carries “an incredible mix of strength and vulnerability, curiosity, conviction, fire, compassion, and profound sensitivity.” Putting the piece together was a collaborative process, and ReMalia asserts that she could not have conceived it all alone.
Over a span of about 12 months, the choreographic process has included improvisation, writing, talking, and sound exploration. ReMalia says that even in places where the movement is choreographed, she is open to the dancers finding “new information,” and avoiding “automatic responses.”
Perhaps what makes ReMalia’s work so exciting is her openness. She teaches a movement method called Gaga. The style encourages participants to let go of old movement habits and push the body to new limits. In a work-in-progress showing at the Alloy Studios last November, the piece had a refreshing newness about it. The freshness wasn’t necessarily in the movement invention or choreographic style, but in the way the dancers revealed something about themselves as individuals.
ReMalia says, “Creating this work is a chance to bare and embrace our complexity in a manner that does not always have a channel in the day to day. I am noticing my own tendencies for movement proliferation and my challenge of finding the boundaries of endless creation...”
Inspiration for the piece came from a multitude of thoughts, ideas, writings, videos, and more. As one example, the cast was interested in the day and age before language, when people used gestures to communicate their thoughts. And how now, in social situations, our hands and arms often stay awkwardly stationary. A few other topics of interest were space and gender, daydreaming, and group formations (like the famous Ohio State University marching band).
What developed out of three intensive rehearsal periods is a distinctive work of movement, sound, and even visual art by Blaine Siegel. The piece asks the questions: Who are we as individuals? Who are we together? What are the myriad ways in which we inhabit space?
The group investigates these questions in an hour-long non-narrative that ranges from “silly to somber,” allowing the audience to speculate for themselves, and maybe even learn something about their own uniqueness. ReMalia says, “I am inviting audience members to identify their own beliefs in relation to the work in the hopes of encouraging self-discovery and building community.”
The Ubiquitous Mass of Us by Maree ReMalia/merrygogo
Featuring: Maree ReMalia, Joseph Hall, Taylor Knight, Paul Kruse, Adil Mansoor, Moriah Ella Mason, Jil Stifel, Anna Thompson, David Bernabo, and costume designer, Rachel Vallozzi
Where: The New Hazlett Theater, North Side at 6 Allegheny Square East
When: Saturday, June 14th at 8:00 p.m.
Cost: $20 in advance, or $25 at the door
Click HERE to purchase.
***The piece is part of a community supported arts program at the New Hazlett Theater. The series is based on the popular farm share model, or "CSA." For $100, each participating audience member receives six new, or “fresh,” productions every other month. Click HERE for next season’s lineup.