It was just over a year ago that Heidi Keller-Phillips was sitting in a building just off east 10th Street. The room was unfinished, had no heat and definitely wasn’t built for a group of dancers to use for practice. Needless to say, she was feeling down.
“We don't have anything tangible right now,” says Keller-Phillips, recalling how she felt at the time. “We might not have a home and our future might not be secure, but we still have our art form and we still have one another. We still have this form of expression and it’s valid. We can inspire people.”
Motus Dance was in the middle of a transition. They had just lost their studio space and felt like there was no hope at having a season. Keller-Phillips made a decision that instead of having a season they would focus their energy on one main show — Maze.
“It came out of conversations about emotion and kind of navigating through the maze of figuring that out, and how it’s not really all that accepted to show your emotions in a lot of places these days,” says Keller-Phillips. “It’s our job as artists to express ourselves and inspire other people and make that available … It’s the maze of relationships; the maze of emotion, control, restraint; the maze of working within the box, working outside of that box. The maze of perspective and even entrapment.”
Emotions were high for the Motus dancers until they found a new space at the Basile Opera Center.
“We were having to compromise a lot of what our vision for what Motus could be,” says Keller-Phillips. “We were at a place of struggle as a group for sure.”
That struggle lead to 7 in-house choreographers and the audio and visual work of filmmaker Charles Borowicz (Anc Movies) creating a show that is extremely versatile.
“The idea of the project, maze, can take on so many different forms,” says Borowicz. “You have relationships as a maze, you have social issues as a maze, you have place as a maze, you have the body as a maze. All kinds of different metaphors that maze can help you approach.”
Borowicz regularly makes film and design content for Motus. For the upcoming show he took it a step further. Videos will bookend each dance and are woven into a few. He decided to focus the standalone pieces on the idea of space, using things like a phantom ride style of shooting, city scapes, woods and point of view from a child’s eye all play with the concept.
Katelin Ryan, a Motus dancer and choreographer for Maze, developed a piece about social and modern media that has videography projected on the dancers themselves.
“We liked the idea that it was actually projected on them,” says Borowicz. “That has metaphors — that these are things that are actually projected on people too.”
Borowicz also helped create the audio track for a piece by Jenny Thomas that uses survey questions about relationships as a script. They recorded the questions and answers being read aloud and layered them together to create a track.
Because the show covers such a broad topic — where everything from social media to romantic relationships are addressed — Keller-Phillips spent most of her time trying to make sure the entire set is as cohesive as possible. According to her each piece eludes to grander scene.
“We are being true to our modern dance and not spelling it out for people and being pretty abstract,” says Keller-Phillips.”At the same time it’s pretty tangible and people will be able to grasp something if not everything. I think that’s the lesson to a lot of our audiences. We’re not totally straightforward, and some people are uncomfortable with that.”
Nov. 13 - Dec 5.
Nov. 13 and 14 , Doors 7pm, Show 8pm, White Rabbit Cabaret
Dec. 5, 7 p.m. JCC, 6701 Hoover Rd, $15, $10 for JCC members