What are your names? Where are you from?
Stephanie: My name is Stephanie Booth. I am originally from Montana. I have lived all over—Seattle, San Fransisco, Pittsburgh. I have been in Brooklyn for the last eight years.
Jessica: My name is Jessica Parks. I grew up outside of Detriot, MI, and arrived in NYC via Tuscon, AZ about nine and a half years ago.
What is the project you are working on here at SPACE?
Jessica: We are working on two projects. One of them is the second section of a duet, a dance piece. We recently completed a choreographic collaboration that was presented in Detroit, literally three days before we arrived here at SPACE. We have expanded upon that duet here, in the barn. We have fleshed out the entire piece. I would say that it’s our first major collaboration together.
Stephanie: Yeah, since we started our own company. The company was started based off of collaborating with each other. Other choreographers would always put us together. When we would make a duet we would only get to perform it once. And we were like, ‘Well, that’s not so great.’ And we would get good feedback. So that pushed us to start The Umbrella Co. We thought, ‘this is something we can do together.’
Jessica: The other project that we are working on is a large piece that I am making titled Thrown. Stephanie has a solo within it. And it needs to be completed before our season next month. So we are starting to dive into that, too. It is a piece about human suffering, how we all suffer in different ways, how we all make ourselves experience suffering even though we might not realize it.
Stephanie: And how it might manifest itself in the way that you are and in the way that you move. And sometimes you don’t know until you really get to know someone. You know, this person seems really calm and put together, but, no, they have moments where they get upset or freak out. Or, other people are a constant roller coaster; they show it on their sleeve all the time.
Jessica: And it is interesting because a lot of it is my perception of the dancers from the outside. Even though it was not originally intended that way. It has ended up that way. I am putting something on them that I think is the mirror of how actually they live their lives. But then, as we create together they add to it and create their characters. It has been a challenging process, that piece.
How have you been spending your time at SPACE?
Stephanie: We set a schedule for ourselves before we even got here. We know that being dancers we need to prepare our bodies. And it is helpful, whether you are making work or making it through your day, if you have some sort of guidelines. It helps push you to be creative. So, we decided we would start each morning with yoga in the barn at 7:30am. Then breakfast with everyone. Then back to the barn for a work session from 10am to 1pm, which is pretty exhausting for only two dancers. The lunch. And then another work session. Then dinner. And then we would do administrative work, if we had time or energy. Very full days!
Jessica: And, as far as our work sessions go, we have a very similar process. We take a little bit of time and warm up and get into our bodies. Feeling the space. When you are in a different space it always takes awhile to absorb it. And feel how it is going to inspire you. Its limitations. All sorts of things. It is always different everywhere you work. The floor. How the floor feels. What the air feels like. If it’s hot.
Stephanie: How high the ceiling is. Whether there are pillars in the middle of the floor. Everything matters.
Jessica: Absolutely. The environment is key to what you are creating. Our work sessions are very collaborative. Our process is always different. We don’t work the same way everyday or every session.
What is up next for you?
Jessica: We are being produced by Take Root at Green Space in Long Island City, Queens. It is our first produced season, which is very exciting. We will be presenting on September 20. The Umbrella Co.
Stephanie: There will be the duet that we finished here. Thrown, which Jess talked about. And then I am making another piece, which is called … well, it’s a tongue twister. It’s energetic. It’s very quirky.
Jessica: It’s whimsical!
If you were reincarnated as farm animal, what farm animal would you be? Why?
Jessica: I think I would be a horse. Horses have extremely impressive muscle tone. I have a lot of muscle. I think it would be lovely to be able to move that fast and that freely. And to leap over things. And just … (insert horse noise).
Stephanie: That is a hard question for me. I have a very close connection to cats of all sorts. So, to be a great farm cat, catching mice and running around, would be fabulous. I have a really close connection to ducks as well. So, I was really excited to see the ducks here. The ducks walking around with all the chickens and the turkeys. And the fact that they are constantly cackling in the background while we are in the barn. I don’t know, I think I might have to go with the duck.
Jessica: They have been speaking to us the whole time.
Co-collaborators on this piece, maybe?
Interviewed by Alison McLaughlin