Jane Weiner on Village of Waltz

Simon Gentry photo

Photo by Simon Gentry

Jane Weiner, artistic director of Hope Stone Dance and Hope Center, unveils her newest opus, Village of Waltz, at Cullen Theater Friday and Saturday. Weiner developed her dancing chops with Doug Elkin’s company in New York, but began to choreograph here in Houston, where she has lived for the past 13 years. Weiner opens the gates of the Village below.

29-95: What is a “Village of Waltz?”

Jane Weiner: It’s an idealistic cockeyed optimist’s dream of what I wish the world would be.

29-95: What we would find there?

JW: Everybody is accepted at a gut level. We all have to make compromises to get along, but that doesn’t mean we have to change who we are inside, what we believe in and our goals and aspirations.

29-95: How do you do that through dance?

JW: That’s the hard part. As a choreographer it always seems so crystal clear. What’s clear to me may not be clear to the audience. I want to give room for each person’s interpretation. If they don’t get my story but develop their own, who is to say I am right and they are wrong.

29-95: What was your choreographic challenge in creating the piece?

JW: I am using all live music (composed by Peter Jones), and that scared me.

29-95: Why?

JW: I am very structured girl, and as I get older I get more structured. What if I didn’t like what Peter, created or it didn’t work. What if it didn’t’ come together?

29-95: Obviously it did come together. Jones’ music is pretty, lush and very repetitive. Was that ever a concern?

JW: The repetition gives room for the dance to come forward. The piece has a cyclical theme. It’s very circular, so he brought that idea into his music.

29-95: The photos of the show depict people flitting about in fields and meadows. They are lovely, but look a bit like an allergy medication ad. What were you trying to convey?

JW: Ha! Are your allergies acting up? I got a strong visual for the start from the 1997 Dutch film, Antonia’s Line. When I grow up, I want to be Antonia.

29-95: Why?

JW: She’s unconditional. She looks at you and sees that you are Nancy and sees me as Jane.

29-95: You are in your 40s. Aren’t you there yet?

JW: Did you have burst my bubble today? I am always working on it. I would like to evolve into that kind of person.

29-95: Usually your stages are filled with stuff, like thousands of shoe boxes, TV sets, or bags of flour. What has David Graeve, your set designer, cooked up this time?

JW: It’s a little more minimal. I didn’t want to collect a gazillion things this year. It’s warm furniture, picture and window frames. There’s a notion of creating safety and belonging.

29-95: Let’s talk about the dancers. It looks like a mix of old timers and new recruits.

JW: It’s so great right now. I love my company, but they are dispersing all over the place right after the show. I feel like the coach of the senior football team. We are winning every game, but they are going off to college. We also have had lots of news, a new pregnancy, a baby and one dancer that ran off to join the circus.

29-95: How do you reconcile your various philanthropic causes (Pink Ribbons Project and Kid’s Play for at-risk youth) and your creative life?

JW: We distributed 700 free tickets to kids in Houston’s schools to see the show. We are also expanding Kid’s Play to New Orleans. I think of Hope Center itself as a village.

Reprinted from 29-95.c0m.

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