Dance Mogul: Can you take us behind the scenes of these projects? What is the inspiration and what is the process of manifesting these projects?
Teresa Fellion: The Mantises Are Flipping (P.S. I’ll have whatever they’re having) has been a long-term project created in three separate worlds. The inspiration to start this project originally came from movement ideas and social constructs. I investigated in creating my MFA Thesis Solo at Sarah Lawrence College, such as polyrhythmic movement, contrast, angular and curved distortion and “sanity/ insanity”. Our company has mined and crafted these concepts and developed work that is heavily focused on full-bodied physicality, texture and detail.
Dance Mogul: What can the audience expect to walk away with?
Teresa Fellion: We have designed this piece to bring audiences along on an unexpected journey of immersive dance theatre, where they will experience four worlds that are completely distinct, yet threaded together purposefully; seamless and soft, awkward and questioning through a bit of humor, distorted and predatory and calming. The audience can expect to be led fully and deeply through these worlds, to a point where they can fully digest it and connect to the work personally. In a previous stage of this work, an audience member shared, “I felt like being caught writing my secrets in my diary and being forced to read them out loud in front of the public. It was supremely engaging.”
Dance Mogul: How do the dancers prepare for a performance such as this as opposed to other projects?
Teresa Fellion: For this performance we have been training heavily in full-bodied phrases that have a lot of asymmetry and contrast in them. There are a lot of direction shifts, changes of tempo, and complex partnering. At times it feels like a puzzle of a dance in the sections where the movements purposefully shift gears abruptly. The dancers have to approach the movements with precise skill in order to connect them and magnify their qualities. In this sense, it takes a lot of physical and mental preparation to fully embody the evolving physical and emotional states of the dance.
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you?
Teresa Fellion: This project would not be where it is today without the genius of the dancers involved: Iman Barnes, Corey Bliss, Zachary Bergfelt, Alex Jenkins, Monica Mordaunt and Audrey Rachelle Stanley, as well as additional artists involved in earlier stages. I would like to deeply thank our composers Ryan Edwards and John Yannelli for diving into this with an avid sense of experimentation plus such vivid compositional and musical prowess. Our costume designer, Ljupka Arsovska, has been inventive and provocative in her design. We are so grateful to Concord Academy’s Choreographic Fellowship Program, ITE: Inception to Exhibition, Space Grants at Triskelion Arts and Mark Morris Dance Center through the Mellon Foundation, CPR-Center for Performance Research and Danspace Project Dance: Access Series. We have been able to bring this work to its full potential through the gracious gifts and programming of these organizations.