I want everyone to listen carefully to the words of dance rockstar David Hochoy: "Life is rich and beautiful, encompassing many layers and forms, and it should be celebrated, everywhere."
The Dance Kaleidoscope's (DK) Artistic Director is doing just that. Hochoy and his modern dance company will help the legendary sounds of Cole Porter blossom in COLE! at the Schrott Center for the Arts of Butler University.
"We received the Indiana Masterpiece Grant Award from the Indiana Arts Commission, and it allows us to celebrate life and Cole Porter, as well as Indiana's bicentennial," says Hochoy.
Hochoy's work is refreshing, full of deep wisdom and disarming honesty.
"I was a bit of a snob when I first arrived here," Hochoy laughs. "But you have to understand, I was fresh out of New York and raised by Martha Graham. The music of Cole Porter was not on my radar. So, when I first came to DK in 1991, Richard Ford, one of the search committee/board members who brought me onboard, invited me to his cottage — really a mansion — and introduced me to Porter's music. Ford played CDs with that vintage sound and I just found it so charming — I could see the possibilities."
It's no secret David likes to tie commentary into his process, his choreography and his shows.
"Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter (a CD of contemporary music artists covering his songs) was my springboard. Part one of COLE! is the Golden Age of Hollywood, the American Dream, boy meets girl, and an everything is hunky- dory feel," says Hochoy. "The second half is more aggressive, and what I hope, includes more clever ways to incorporate current social issues, such as homelessness, greed, and homosexuality — and I chose to incorporate more of the clandestine kind of sex between two men that does not necessarily provide a happy ending. Part two is pure contrast."
Mariel Greenlee, a fiery force within DK, will have a solo, and also speaks to that contrast.
"I love the romantic first half, but the second half is the grit, the truth," says Greenlee. "My solo to Annie Lennox's cover of Porter's 'Every Time We Say Goodbye' integrates every sadness, every painful goodbye. I found the choreography to be touchingly sophisticated."
Greenlee, who started dancing at age three and began with Dance Kaleidoscope 11 years ago, also hails from New York.
"I thought I would be here [in Indiana] for a year or two and then head out," says Greenlee. "Although not intentional, it grew on me, the people, the city — it all just sucked me in. I feel I've become ingrained in the arts, in the theater and dance communities. I connected with the major arteries and veins of the city. And it was all a lovely and unexpected gift."
And one of those major gifts is Hochoy, according to Greenlee.
"Working with David is like nothing else," says Greenlee. "He's a phenomenal boss, leader, director and teacher. David brings depth to the table. He alienates no one, and makes accessible art, tailor-made for the community. He's wise, intuitive and tough. He says what he wants and needs to say as a choreographer. He does not mute his voice, and this, among his other talents, are what he gives to this community — and this honesty is what we need right now. The job of good art is to reveal the truth of the inner landscape, especially in these times. There is so much hurt and fear, but there is also beauty, too. So much beauty and joy — and it's an exciting time to be alive. David's choreography reveals all of this. COLE! is classic DK — it has a little bit of everything. Working with DK is invigorating and the diversity is satisfying."
Although painful to think that many of the same issues of Porter's time are still hot-button items today, Hochoy is confident tackling them.
"In the beginning, two decades ago, I was nervous to showcase the two-men duet," says Hochoy. "And it was around '97 that a presenter asked me to remove the male duet, to use women instead. Decades of doing choreography, and the double standard still amazes me. We can use violence onstage, kill people and fight onstage and even have two women dance together, but show two men dancing, or even making love, it's still difficult for some audiences to accept. It's just crazy. I have always used my art to push boundaries and will continue to do so."