“If you want to, you can lay me over the table and amuse yourself. And even call in your men. Well… No woman ever died from that. When you’re finished, all I’ll need will be a tub of boiling water, and I’ll be exactly what I was before – with just another filthy memory.”
-Jill McBain (played by Claudia Cardinale. Once Upon a Time in the West, 1969)
Movies have been a huge influence for me, so when I hear the term The New West, the term inherently invokes its antithetical brother: The Old West. A decayed movie metaphor for man that still lingers in our cultural air. My version of The New West must address that sticky territory from which it comes.
Film has done a lot for men. It has glorified their wars, given them heroes to look
up to, and shown boys what it looks like to become a man. If there is a lesson to be
learned from this it is that stories are powerful. They shape the way we understand
ourselves both personally, and as a nation. Characters can define us.
As a choreographer, I have decided to focus on creating and studying female
characters of all kinds. The characters I love come half from male directors, and half
from female choreographers. Characters like Jill McBain, Beatrix Kiddo, and Holly
Sargis, and also nameless characters from dances like Mary Wigman’s Witch
Dance, Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring and Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker’s Rosas danst
As an entity though, the dance world has famously provided one iconic female character for little girls to admire: The Ballerina. Oh yes, that old archetype of female pain and servitude. The dismantling of that icon is where my New West, and
my work, begin. In the New West, dance and film collide to create new archetypal
female characters created by women.