A Studio Chat with Choreographer Molissa Fenley
Editor, CTV News
December 30, 2011
Photo © Choreographer Molissa Fenley, at the Baryshnikov Center NY
Over the last thirty years, New York-based choreographer Molissa Fenley has built a strong reputation among dance, music, and visual art connoisseurs for her slyly subtle dance works—solos and ensemble works that can seem deceptively simple at first, but reveal themselves, through careful watching, as engagingly complex compositions of shifting shapes, momentums, and textures.
Why has this work built such a devoted following? “If Ms. Fenley moves toward anything, it is an inner self, an unshaken purpose,” wrote Claudia LaRocco in the New York Times, reviewing Fenley's 2007 concerts at New York's Joyce Theater. “She is a compact, economical dancer whose stamina and boyish frame belie her 53 years. No emoting, no lyricism: These qualities seem wasteful, somehow, when put against her assertive, deft leg extensions; her small traveling hops; or the beveled planes of her hands as they slice neatly through the air above her head…. Such a self-contained performer does not approach the audience. The viewer moves forward, or not, into the curious middle distance of this remote yet oddly captivating choreographer.”
On January 9, at New York’s Judson Church—that historic venue for post-modern performance!—Fenley will appear in a special, one-night-only performance event incorporating two New York premières: Credo in Us, which shares its title with the 1942 John Cage work to which it is set; and The Vessel Stories, set to Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 4. (More information about the performance is available here.)
To learn more, Classical TV’s Stephen Greco caught up with Fenley recently, at rehearsal in one of the studios of the Mark Morris Dance Building in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.