Catellier Dance gazes into the past and future with 'pre-suf-fixes'

By Caitlin Ryan | Emory Report | Nov. 26, 2013

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Catellier Dance Projects! presents a 'pre-look' and a retrospective of the final installation of a multi-year series of dance works in "pre-suf-fixes" Dec. 6-8.

Greg Catellier, senior lecturer in dance, and the collaborators that make up Catellier Dance Projects! (CDP) have been working on a multi-year project exploring the elements of dance.  

Last year, Catellier Dance Projects! presented the third in a series of four works—"E"—exploring the element of energy. With 2011's "tempo, a non-fiction dance performance" and 2012's "…the final frontier," Catellier combined personal anecdotes, multimedia storytelling and audience immersion to produce wholly unique works of modern dance. On Dec. 6-8, "pre-suf-fixes" reflects on these performances and looks forward to the future.  

Catellier discusses the upcoming performance for Emory Report:  

You've described "pre-suf-fixes" as something of a pit stop on the way to the final installment of a four-part series examining the elements of dance. Can you first remind our readers a little bit about the project as a whole?  

Catellier Dance Projects! for the past three years has been creating evening-length works around the fundamental elements of dance: time, space, energy and the body. Each subject taken on its own and exclusive of dance is endlessly fascinating and we have found much inspiration from them. We look at the subject from multiple angles: scientific, pseudo-scientific, cultural, but then try to get at what really matters to people.  

So when we investigated time it really became about nostalgia and we investigated space it became about what it means to be close to someone. Within a single performance we address these subjects through dance, film, music, text and other wacky stuff.  For example, when we investigated space, audience members toured the Schwartz Center before they took their seats. The tour included riding an elevator that was outfitted to look like the cosmos.  

"pre-suf-fixes" features extracts from previous works and previews the final piece in the series, "Corpus Mysterious," which will premiere in September 2014. Why did you decide to take this "pit stop" at "pre-suf-fixes"?  

Mostly for practical reasons. The body is a huge subject and I wanted to take time with the research and rehearsal process. Unfortunately in the world of dance, if you are not performing regularly people forget about you. So "pre-suf-fixes" is in some ways an attempt to keep CDP relevant in the dance community.  However, doing this pseudo retrospective has allowed us to look back, evaluate our successes and proclivities and ascertain how to move forward.  

How is working on "pre-suf-fixes" and seeing the works in close connection with one another changing the way you understand the larger project?  

First, it has brought into focus how collage-like the performances have been. The sections we have chosen for "pre-suf-fixes" focus on specific and simple aspects of the larger subject.  For example, the section from the energy show was inspired by an electrical circuit. We really pound away at that for about six minutes. However, the energy show had several sections just as specific that put together something more complex and thoughtful.  

Second, CDP has not been creating repertory , which is typical of how dance companies work.  So I wonder if these sections will stand on their own as dances and could we package it as a show? The audience response will answer that question.  

With "pre-suf-fixes," you are continuing a long collaboration with media artist Jeff Curtis and composer Kendall Simpson.  Can you reflect on these relationships?    

One of the works presented during "pre-suf-fixes" is "Disrepair," the first short film the three of us created in 2007.  That film has been screened at many festivals here in the states and around the world. I am interested to see how the audience reacts to it all these years later.  

In regards to the collaboration, it is greater than the artifacts that remain from it.  What I mean is Kendall will compose some music for "Corpus Mysterious" and Jeff will make some films and those will live on as singular works, but it is the conversations that we have that will help me clarify what I am interested in saying and shape the work overall. Those conversations are vital to the process. Kendall and Jeff are critical but so are the dancers who offer continual feedback as we create new work. Some of the dancers I have worked with since before CDP was founded.

What can we expect from the preview of the final work in the series, "Corpus Mysterious," which takes the body as its inspiration?  

We have two sections that we are sharing. One focuses on the liquid nature of our bodies and the other the compulsion we have to share stories about our bodies. Paraphrasing my colleague Sally Radell, "Our personal history is the story of our body."