Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre returned from its tour of Latvia invigorated as a troupe and savoring memories on a personal level. Founding artistic director Gregory Hancock and dancer Martin Casanova stopped by NUVO to chat about the extraordinary response to their NUVO trip blog and what they’ve been processing since coming home.
Hancock: For me, the appreciation we feel from audiences and the fan base the troupe experienced wherever we toured is what’s most significant about dancing in Latvia. Europeans have a higher respect for dance and dancers than is the norm in the United States. It’s nice to go to a place where dance is highly respected.
And there is growth for dancers when we are able to perform so much.
Casanova: The people were my favorite part of being in Latvia. For them it was nice that strangers came and danced for them. All of the performances were for general audiences, with one matinee especially for school children. They wanted us to autograph their arms. It was a little bit like being rock stars. It’s uplifting.
Hancock: Inspiring. It feeds our creativity. The growth that happened from adapting to new spaces and new audiences makes us better, stronger, more confident performers.
Casanova: We bring back experiences of living in another place. That gives us a bigger picture of our own community here.
Hancock: Modern movement is fairly new to Latvians. Their dance language is steeped in ballet and folk dance. For some of the small towns we were the first American people they’ve seen, much less the first modern dancers.
Casanova: For some places, our reputation preceded us.
Hancock: This was a special invitation tour as guests of a private Latvian promoter. And as a result of my having been to Latvia on my own several years ago, I have been cited as “the first to educate [introduce] Latvians to modern dance” in the newly published Latvian Ballet Encyclopedia.
But I’ve been influenced as well. 1941 is a dance I choreographed because of my first visit to Latvia and having leaned about the killing of almost every Jew in Latvia. We performed it in Latvia and people cried. You can’t put a value on that kind of experience.