PMA Podcast Episode 56 - 2024 Annual Spring Dance Presenting Series

In this episode, Leah and Chris met with Assistant Professor of the Practice Danielle Russo and visiting lecturer Olive Prince to discuss the 2024 Annual Spring Dance Presenting Series.

PMA Podcast · Episode 56 - 2024 Annual Spring Dance Presenting Series

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Chris Christensen  00:11

Hello, I'm Christopher Christensen. Welcome to Episode 56 of the PMA podcast. In this episode, Leah and I met with Assistant Professor of the Practice Danielle Russo and visiting lecturer Olive Prince to discuss the 2024 Annual Spring Dance Presenting Series. This event runs Thursday, April 25th, through Saturday, April 27th. Tickets are free and available by visiting

Chris Christensen  00:39

I guess the big talk this week has been the excitement of the solar eclipse that you could or could not see from Ithaca.

Danielle Russo  0:49

This is true.

Christopher Christensen   0:50

Where were, where were you?

Danielle Russo  00:51

I went out into that little like, patio area between college town bagels in the building. And I was like trying to peer out over the parking lot. And it just, you could barely see anything. Yeah, but Andrew gave me some glasses, which was kind, so I just was wearing them when I was trying to catch something. Yeah. Yeah.

Olive Prince  1:10

I was at Seneca Lake. You really, it was very cloudy. We didn't even need glasses because it was so cloudy, and it would just come out and you'd catch glimpses of it. But we did experience a total darkness. And that was really amazing, and I’m happy.

Christopher Christensen   1:23

Where, where were you on Seneca lake?

Olive Prince  1:26

Some very little park, Samson State Park.

Christopher Christensen   1:28

I was there too!

Olive Prince  1:29

You were? Oh, that’s so funny!

Chris Christensen  01:29

So did you saw the C130s that came through right afterwards?

Olive Prince  1:33

Yeah! That was cool, yeah.

Christopher Christensen   1:34

Yeah, that was really exciting. Oh, that's so funny. We were right there. Well, there were a lot of people there.

Olive Prince  01:39

There were. We were, like on the left hand dry side by, my kids were playing soccer, if you saw. Anyway, there was a bunch, like my neighbors came.

Christopher Christensen   1:47

So were you down by the lake itself?

Olive Prince  1:48

We weren’t by the lake.

Christopher Christensen   1:49

Higher up, then?

Olive Prince  1:50

We were higher up, yeah.

Christopher Christensen   1:50

Okay. Yeah, yeah.

Olive Prince  1:51

Going for dry land.

Christopher Christensen   1:54

Yeah, that was amazing, just that…

Olive Prince  1:55

Did you get the traffic on the way back? You probably came through Trumansburg, you were okay.

Christopher Christensen   1:59

Well, actually, my parents live in Willard, which is just like a few minutes from there. And my wife and I rode our bikes down a lake trail, so we were able to avoid all the traffic.

Olive Prince  2:08


Christopher Christensen   2:09

How about you?

Leah Ingalls  2:10

I watched it from the slope. And it was a similar thing, where you could just catch glimpses of it. I told my boyfriend that it kind of looks like a toenail on a carpet, which he thought was a beautiful metaphor. But yeah, it was actually really cool because it was like hundreds of people just on the slope and around the slope. And you could tell when it was starting to peak out because the crowd would just slowly start to roar with (gasp), and then it was really loud. It was really cool.

Olive Prince  2:34

That’s cool.

Chris Christensen  02:37

Yeah, we get what we get.

Olive Prince  2:38

A coming together.

Christopher Christensen   2:39


Leah Ingalls  2:39


Christopher Christensen   2:40

Yeah. Speaking of which, what are we doing here today? Leah?

Leah Ingalls  2:44

We are discussing the 2024 Annual Spring Dance Presenting Series.

Christopher Christensen   2:50

And we've got Danielle and Olive with us in the small studio today. Danielle, welcome back to the studio.

Danielle Russo  2:56

Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Christopher Christensen   2:57

Second time?

Danielle Russo  2:58

Second time.

Christopher Christensen   2:59

All right. Can you provide just a little overview of the 2024 Annual Spring Dance Presenting Series?

Danielle Russo  3:06

Yeah, absolutely. So, the spring presenting dance series this year is a culmination of a yearlong series called the Choreographic Justice Series, which our dance program has been curating and producing, and exploring and having a lot of fun with this entire academic year. It's also in partnership with the Freedom of Expression Theme Year with Cornell University. And so, conversations around freedom of expression, what that means, how that resonates and translates individually and collectively is at the heart of all the projects being presented by the students in our upcoming show. It is also a two-part experience. We have a main stage production. I'm hesitant to perhaps even use the word stage, because they're really trying to reimagine what the Kiplinger Theater can be and what it can serve and how we can activate that space. The work that's going to be presented in there is called This Table Has Been a House in the Rain. And it's driven by six students who have been in a course for rehearsal and production, which is quite exciting. And then the second portion is a mixed media installation, led by my colleague Olive here, if you want to go ahead and share about that portion.

Olive Prince  4:24

Yeah, we're having a atrium installation that is a post-show experience. And it's connected with Technology and the Moving Body, which is a course where I've had four students that are across the university, they are not coming from a dance point of view, they are coming from a real interest in exploration and creativity and making, and what we have done is, is really investigated how the body can be an expressive tool in their making process. And so the installation will serve as a post-show experience where audience can gather and see work in a very close up experience and have their own wandering eyes and walk and talk and hopefully create more community around seeing and viewing dance.

Chris Christensen  05:14

Can you talk a little bit about what that multimedia experience is going to look like? And, and do you need my assistance with that, because I just, as I was reading that I thought, Oh, this is the first I've heard of it, I'm guessing there's probably going to be some projectors and that sort of thing needed.

Olive Prince  05:28

Yes, I think Michael Garrett is taking care of a lot of that.

Christopher Christensen   5:33

Oh, wonderful.

Olive Prince  5:34

So, I think he'll be in conversation if he needs anything. But yes, we are using, the students have made dance films. Every student has made one of those, and they run, you know, one student has placed herself in the work, which I think is really fascinating because she has become an embodied maker. And she has found a way to become a performer, which is new for her, she has never done that before. And she made two films, one, she put herself in the snow on Beebe Lake, and has this really beautiful metaphor for what's happening. And she's also filming herself, like, you know, she didn't have a partner with this. And she does another experience where, I don't want to give it all away, but she's put herself in like a very elaborate costume in the theater. And in, outside, like in multiple places, she's painted her body. And, and she's layered these images with other image imagery from her personal life and has to do with her identity, which is really powerful. We have other students that have collaborated with students who would identify as a dancer and who have trained as dancers. And they have found really interesting work. And they're, in their collaboration, they're finding their artistic point of view. One of them has filmed outside at the slope, in, like at 11pm in a white dress on the grass. So, they're just finding imagery that can, that speaks to them. And another student is exploring his Filipino identity through the Filipino dance club, and he's doing filming and work with them. And making a more documentary style dance film.

Chris Christensen  07:16

Okay, thank you.

Olive Prince  7:16


Leah Ingalls  07:17

I'm really curious, that, that sounds like it would have a very different experience in the classroom to perhaps a more traditional dance course. Do you find that there's anything that differs as a professor in the way that you have guided students through the creation of these projects?

Olive Prince  7:35

Well, the biggest difference is, where we're coming from. Like, and what our like, our like, base of knowing and comfortability is, and I feel like I've worked really hard to get them comfortable with the body, the human body as a tool of expression. Whereas a group of dancers, it's like a different level that we're working with in that comfortable, comfortable place, because they're already accustomed to using their body as a tool for expression. So there's, there's that level of it. And also they feel, they came in with a sense of like, well, I don't know how, how to communicate about anything regarding the body. And it's like, yes, you do. You communicate all the time with your body, you know, we are all nonverbal creatures, and we use movement every day. So it was, you know, just that lens of getting comfortable with that. And then the rest is the same, like sort of compositional principles that you would use in choreography, and in any making, and I feel like that is our commonality. And the students were coming in with a variety of perspectives, but just exploring how we're composing and creating and making creative choices to find our artistic vision. So, yeah.

Chris Christensen  08:51

Thinking back on This Table Has Been a House in the Rain, I love the title. What inspired the creation of this?

Danielle Russo  08:59

Well, the title is actually an excerpt of Joy Harjo’s larger poem, Perhaps the World Ends Here. And so when tasked with this project, which originated from Cornell's Freedom of Expression year, there were conversations around dance creating a, really creating around those very themes of freedom of expression for the end of semester series. And that is quite a broad, and a quite, a charged and very important, and relevant in also historic ways, conversation to be had. And so, over the course of the fall, and also winter break, I was thinking a lot about, well, as a faculty facilitator, what is my role? What is my responsibility? What are the questions that I want to pose? Because when we think about even the histories of dance production, particularly in a university setting, the conversations and even the language of like, setting a piece, right? Or even if you're guiding students through a choreographic process, there's a lot of hierarchy there that is actually very, it's, it's in dissonance with these very themes that we're trying to embrace and trying to explore. So, we were thinking a lot about, well, what can we, what kind of point of entry can we present to the students that can invite and also hold space for agency or for continued exploration and questioning throughout the course of their own creative process, that also is broad enough to feel as though that they can locate themselves, right? Similarly, I have six students who are also not only various majors, but also there's, three of them are graduate students from various graduate programs across the university. And three of them are undergrads of also various studies. And so, they're coming in with an interest in the project to begin with. So we thought about, well, what about just like, the idea of a table? What does it mean to, to come to the table? Or what does it mean to remind ourselves that we are always accountable to making sure that everybody has a place at the table? That you are seen and that you are heard, and to, also to create a space where you can feel safe to be vulnerable, to put your cards out on the table. Or if the tables are turned, or also, we were kind of looking and reading various artists’ relationships to that very metaphor. Nina Simone writes, to have the courage to walk away when love's no longer being served. And to, to, really to hold space for all of the feelings, the multi layered feelings that I think many of us are experiencing, not only individually, but collectively in this multi year global moment of grief and of, of questioning, and of also holding space to, to speak out and to, to hopefully to be heard. And so the table became metaphor. So we have been continually returning back to Joy's writing. But in doing so the students have been doing a lot of their own writing practice, that has become an active part of our creative process. And then we've been working with Jason Simms, head of set design here in the department to build modular set pieces that can be constructed into tables, but also deconstructed or rearranged to actually create different scenarios and contexts of what else a table can be. It can be an altar, it can be a wall, it can be a bed, it can be a gathering space for picnic, for conference, for, for debate. And, you know, somebody was creating also corners, both for safety, but also to feel perhaps even like closed in upon. So how can we like reconcile all these feelings that we're also holding, and similar to as what Olive was saying is also just to kind of allow students to explore where they are in this moment, and for that process to continually evolve throughout the weeks as to, and to really honor process over production. Yes, this is a production, but this is also a space for students to explore, and hopefully to locate themselves in new and different ways. And so we've been, and the table, also, to be quite honest, became a space that felt open ended enough for our guest artists to also be a part of that conversation too. We had Eiko Otake, Ishmael Houston-Jones, and Keith Hennessy here with us this semester. And all three of them had different relationships to these themes. And so it felt just like a, and, again, just sort of an invitation to kind of allow for each of us and the students themselves to kind of hold ourselves accountable to, yeah, what does it mean to, to be, to honor our authentic selves? Yeah.

Leah Ingalls  13:54

I was wondering, could you share a bit more about the process between the students and then the visiting artists that you mentioned?

Danielle Russo  14:02

Absolutely. So, it ranged. The artists, who were just so generous to be here with us, they each have their own relationships to performance making. But collectively, improvisation, and improvisation as freedom practice is something that is very core to their, their ethos and their manifestos for making over doing, in terms of both the practice of just being embodied, and also the practice of gathering and, and being embodied together. For Eiko, it was very important to her that she not be perceived and also received in a role of directing the students, but more about posing questions for mentorship and for self location. And we talked a lot about like, what are body based democracies, and how can those remain autonomous, and how can we celebrate that? And so, she came at the early portion of the semester to really kind of set a certain tone and kind of energy for, again, that, that persistent inquiry and also to feel comfortable in that persistent inquiry she had. Also, we opened up the workshop to the public. And so there was an opportunity to, to work not only with each other, but for folks perhaps with whom they hadn't met yet, which I think was really important. And also for a certain duration of time. And so it was really about becoming comfortable with yourself, because if anything, that actually can be even the most difficult of things. We can be, it's easier sometimes to be comfortable with an audience, more comfortable with an audience than actually the audience of ourself. We were also really privileged to have had Eiko perform her own work live while on campus as well, she performed A Body in a Library at the Mui Ho Fine Arts Library, which was a really remarkable gift, not only to the community and to Cornell, but I think for the students to have an example of engagement through a practice of authentic movement, through a practice of exploring and being genuinely sympathetic to sight, and also to sensation, and to sharing space with an audience, and what that can mean, and how one can be malleable to the moment. And also remarkably powerful in those spaces as well. And then Ishmael and Keith came together a few weeks later, they have a 25 year creative partnership. And so I think in terms of an example of collaboration, that was really important. The students worked very collaboratively throughout the semester, and they shared leadership roles and also helped manifest each other's manifestos in their practice. So to have this historic example, because they are icons in the field, to be inspired by and to have lengthy conversations about practice and what works and what doesn't work. And it's okay that the things that don't work are actually, that's where the good stuff is, right? Like, just keep grappling with it. And then they built scores, they built three scores with the students that are also quite durational. And to be honest, I wish we had more time to be in this space, because I think they require time. And I'm hoping that the audience will enjoy the duration that we are providing in the upcoming show. But it was, within that particular residency, it was quite beautiful to be witness to the trust that was not only built between the students, but also between the students and themselves, like really honoring themselves, and I think finding their voices, and, and working together to also remain active and present in a really sophisticated way. And so yeah, all three artists really helped contribute to contribute to the, the ethos, and the ideologies of performance making and how it can be, again, a practice of self realization. And also, to echo what Olive was saying is that, you know, we're all performers and dancers and choreographers. I mean, we make choices about how we navigate through our every day and through the world and with each other. And that is already tremendously powerful. And we can apply those same choices to our artistic practice. And also, you know, in reverse as well, I mean, there's, they're not exclusive of one another. So, yeah. It's been, it's been really fantastic. The students have also had a lot of conversations with our production team who has, who have been tremendously collaborative. So making just you know, choices with Jason about what are the set pieces? Where do the handles need to go? How much space do you need? What kind of textures do you need? Like thinking about, like, the actual cohesive choreography of world making and of set design, they’re, they are making their lighting choices, they're doing some of their own real time lighting, for the production. They've been working with Sarah to also construct some really personal costumes that can also be interactive with the piece. And so, also to remind them that choreography is not just, you know, you get on stage and you kick your leg up high, and then you put together a series of, you know, rehearsed steps. It's like no, actually, you're, it's just making. It's organizing ideas and bringing them into fruition. And anything that activates the body can be perceived as dance, so.

Chris Christensen  19:46

Can you elaborate a little bit more on the costumes?

Danielle Russo  19:49

Oh, I mean, there's, I don't want to give too many spoilers, but they are multi dimensional. And there have been conversations around object and object interaction and play. And we're engaging with them as not only something that is, not just something to be worn, but something that can be activated through movement, and also have life and a lifespan throughout the piece too. And so different materials on different interiors that can also interact with light, and also transform. I'll leave it there. They're transformative. You'll see what I mean. Come to the show!

Chris Christensen  20:34

Can you tell us a bit about the Choreographing Justice Series and how it intersects with Cornell University's Freedom of Expression theme this year?

Danielle Russo  20:44

We received the call, I guess you could say the call to action to produce a series around dance and performance that leans into these very ideas in August, right? Right at the start of this semester, which was very exciting. And therefore, we had like the entire year to engage, and also to start conversations with artists who we believe in, whose works are devoted to conversations of justice, of community, of also of repairing archive, and reimagining archive, and also, reimagining and reclaiming what dance can be and the power that it can also instill and share and ignite. And so with our colleague, Dr. Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz, we started to dream up a roster of artists who also could engage with our curriculum. So, it was important that we find how the visiting artists could really engage with all facets of what we're trying to do here, which includes not only dance practice, and dance devising, but also dance scholarship, and the intersection, you know, talking about like research to practice. So, we hosted a series of artists who had curricular engagements, so visiting in person, coming into the studio with our students, mentoring our students on their creative work, giving lectures in class, but also giving public talks and lectures, sharing their own work, either live or in the film forum through archival, and then also doing like public open engagements. So opening up some of our workshops to the public, so anybody who wants to come can come, and it was actually really touching to have met some folks who drove several hours to join us a few weekends. And you know, who shared that core value of this is important, or this artist is important, and these interactions are important. And so yeah, we're trying to really think about, like, what is the breadth of what we want to do here? It’s not just curriculum, it's not, it's also not just production, but it's about interactions that are not only within the community, and also interdepartmental, but also can be available to the larger community, and to bridge and build relationships between, you know, greater Ithaca, and the region, but also relationships between the communities here, and also the communities where the artists are based in their own homes and spaces. And that, really, the world is so small, and so we have each other at the end of the day, and to kind of really remind our students of that importance as well. And so, we're thinking about, really, how can we move, right, in more than just ways. And so, that has sort of been like the ethos and the mission of our, of our series. And I think in total between virtual zoom engagements and then also with live in person engagements, we've had over 20 artists here for the entire year, which is remarkable. And I, I think has been enriching for not only the students but also us faculty and staff. And it's also, I think, encouraged some interdepartmental relationships between students, which is super exciting, and also kind of like, at the heart of it is for students to kind of, yeah, just build, build community. I was thinking a lot about this this morning, actually, that you know, I think it's really so tremendous and, yeah, I think miraculous that like we are where we are right now this year. Like, four years ago everything that's happening, being in the studio, or even like being in the studio late last night, like taking notes, like, that was impossible. And even though that takes a lot of energy, boy, when we couldn't do that, you know, like when we couldn't be in the space together and when we couldn't be creating work in the studio and even being in a stage and venue space. Like, we were reminded how fragile that was a few years ago, and I think we've made even in these four years, such a tremendous leap back to a quote, unquote, normal practice. And so, to have, also, these artists here with us, and to do these very things with the students, I just, it's such a gift. And I was just really sitting with that this morning. And, and I think, in some ways, it's like, gosh, we've done so much, and it may be at times overwhelming, but I think it also just shows like the eagerness and the appetite to just be together, and to do things together. And that really, that's the beauty of dance and performance is that it, it like celebrates who we are in this present moment. And also like, I see you and you see me and we're doing this, and we're here, and it's happening. And so it's been it's been a gift, I think, really this whole series, and we’ve all, all three of us on faculty have been contributing. And I think also just building community within and bringing all of our students together for these events. And I just hope that the students are also finding themselves in new and beautiful ways, so.

Chris Christensen  26:17

Did you happen to chat with Jason about exactly that yesterday? Because Warren and Jason and I were sitting at the scene shop table talking about exactly that, just how different everything is now, how we've come back to things operating in a, in a normal fashion. And just how strange things were four years ago.

Danielle Russo  26:36

You know, I didn't talk to Jason and the last twenty four hours.

Christopher Christensen   26:39

Must be something in the air.

Danielle Russo  26:40

But I guess we were on the, we were picking up on each other's energy. I think, I mean it’s that time of year, right? It's, yeah, I mean, we were talking about this earlier this year, as well of how to facilitate virtual experiences in the last few years and what it meant to try to keep up a sense of practice and also encouragement and energy and inspiration. And it's, it's really, I think, we've been through a lot and are still going through a lot and, but I think it's a landmark moment this year. To really be, to, yeah, to be able to be, be back in a theater and unmasked and, and intimate with one another, even just to be able to touch each other in terms of dance and partnering. You couldn't do that for a while. And so, I think it's um, I don't know, just like the bright spots of, of the privilege of, of moving and to be able to share movement.

Chris Christensen  27:41

In something I read, in prepping for this, I saw the word reclaim the Kiplinger, I think was the word and so this is, is this the first dance performance on the Kip since? No, no. So I'm not sure what, what that wording was alluding to?

Danielle Russo  28:03

Well, the students, we were having conversations around how to present their work, and also to be in conversation with the guests as well. There were conversations around what the Kiplinger means, in terms of like, its historic significance and symbolism. So as a proscenium stage space, it carries with it certain legacies of sorts, not even specific to Cornell, but just in terms of like the history of theatre, and what that can mean and perceive to even an audience in terms of etiquette and rules and taboo. And if that is the energy that we necessarily want to, to engage in this upcoming show. And so when we talked about, like reclaiming, it's about like, Well, what else can the space be? Right? Like, we have this tremendous space. And, but we don't necessarily have to play by the, the customary rules of engagement, right? It's actually a really tremendous room and space. Like, what else can happen? I'll go ahead and make a couple spoilers is that we have a couple of satellite stages, like in the house. So like, they're not always going to be on the main stage, but they're going to be in close proximity to the audience. Like things of that nature that will be kind of like overhead at times on the balcony. And they'll be, you know, we're really trying to kind of like, look at the guts of what the space is and make our own rules. And so that's that idea of reclaiming. Because it was also expressed with, one student actually was like, Well, I don't want not to be in the Kiplinger because this might be my only opportunity, and I haven't been in this theater yet. And I'm inspired by it. Like, okay, like, that's valid too. Like, it's, all spaces are interesting and I think actually kind of going back to our experiences within the pandemic, especially as dancemakers, like, you know, we had to kind of really engage with alternative methods of audience seeing and production, which some of us already had a lot of experience in. But even then, so we had to kind of like, shift even more, like how else can we engage an audience? Or how else can we make this accessible? And also comfortable and engaging, but also conceptually interesting? Or if we, we can acknowledge certain rules and certain histories but then like, what do we want to do with that acknowledgment? Like, do we want to lean into it? Do we want to break those rules, we want to confront it? Like, there's so many conversations that actually can be supported through how we connect and relate and also craft our, our productions and our audience engagement. How you audience a production is also a choreography, and it also can just dramatically shift how a choreography is received. And so those conversations are important, too. So yeah, reclaiming. It's not as radical as it seems, in terms of like, we’re not taking the Kiplinger over, but we are, well I dunno, if you talk to talk to tech crew, they might say we're taking it over. But um, but we're having fun, we're having fun, and we're trying to kind of like, whatever, whatever we can do, we're gonna try to dip our toe in and, and just try it out. Because at the end of day, it is a educational experience. So, you know, we're not going to say no, we're just gonna say, let's see. And so, yeah.

Olive Prince  31:38

Can I just say, I think there's something so powerful in dance as a tool for education, for students that we're sort of picking up on here, but that they're really engaging in creative thinking, creative thought, questioning of, like, every sort of paradigm that exists. And I just think there's been so many students that have been able to engage with that on many different levels throughout this year, and that also, a lot of the programming has taken dance out of the Schwartz Center, and into other parts of Cornell University, where students who wouldn't find themselves walking across campus to be in this space and to engage with dance were all of a sudden engaging with dance in unexpected ways. And so, just becoming, you know, a larger maker in the community and seeing students have that engagement is really powerful.

Chris Christensen  32:28

Can you talk a little bit more about that? Like, what were some of the other locations?

Olive Prince  32:31

We were, well, was it Willard Straight Hall? Yeah, Willard Straight Hall, we did a performance that was really well attended, an improvisational experience with also graduate musicians who were doing composing. And it, just the collaborative nature of that, and students walking by and seeing dance or wandering in, and being like, sort of pulled into an experience that they wouldn’t have maybe seeked out themselves. So you know, I just thought that was… And Eiko’s experience in her performance at the library. You know, students were just sitting there working, and all of a sudden, were part of this really amazing performance experience, and also witnessed, you know, maybe 75 people like following this artist through, through a space that for them is like a very common experience to be in, and that they may take for granted. But all of a sudden dance and art is happening there. And you're starting to see the space, and see the experience of the people in a really different way. So, you know, watching both of those experiences, sort of from the outside and seeing the students who are on the periphery engage with it. I just think there's lots of possibility there.

Chris Christensen  33:46

Were any of these captured on film by chance? I say film. Were these, they were captured? Yes. Nods. Yes. Where might people be able to see these?

Danielle Russo  33:57

That's a great question. We, I think, in the midst of, of all of our activities this year, we have, we certainly have accumulated quite an archive of content. And so, we are, yeah, we have some Box Folders of some videos and some photos that I think in the next you know, when certain things start to kind of find their conclusion this spring semester we're going to be diving into and we'll certainly find ways to share. Part of the reason why we have so much archival is that we were really insistent that there's, there was photography and videography, because we were like, This is important. We want it to be on the record, in many ways that we can continue to share and reference back to.

Chris Christensen  34:41

Yeah, were you involved in any of that, Leah?

Leah Ingalls  34:44

I was not.

Christopher Christensen   34:45


Leah Ingalls  34:47

But I will say, I think it's such an important and good thing that it is expanding, that PMA and dance are expanding outside of the Schwartz, because I do also find that just as a student, it's very easy to sort of stay in your lane as far as remaining in your bubble of what you interact with, even as a creative on campus. You know, I do find that the sort of creative departments on campus, you know, you've got PMA, you've got music, you've got art, you know, I do find that they tend to separate themselves. So I am very glad to hear that that sort of gap has been bridged in this way. Another thing that I was struck by, Professor Russo, was the way that you use the word audience as a verb. I think that's really interesting. And I was just wondering for both of you, if there was anything that you would sort of implore the audience to think about going into this, or if there was anything that you would want people to sort of have in their mind in particular, as they, you know, walk into the atrium, walk into the Kiplinger Theatre?

Danielle Russo  35:49

I think, you know, it's interesting, we were talking about this in rehearsal, the other day, expectations. I think we're conditioned to have expectations, also, that are oftentimes related to certain kinds of spaces, such as a proscenium stage, and oftentimes, there is the expectation of a certain level of comfort, or of, you know, quote, unquote, entertainment. And like, that's not to dismiss what that can be, and how that can serve. But I was encouraging some students to be okay with presenting questions or imagery that might in fact feel uncomfortable for some folks. Because that, if it's authentic to them, and if it's genuine to how they want to tell their story, and also to be seen and received, then let's do it. And there are ways for us to talk about limitations of comfort or discomfort, what could be perceived, also, in terms of agency of the audience, but it's I think, okay to, to share stories that perhaps are, you know, you know, we're living in difficult times, and so it's okay if your story is difficult. Then, like, that's important, it needs to be told. And I think there are ways of engaging with that content, where it can also be abstracted or researched, and explored, and shaped and, you know, and to, to also, I think part of that research is to see well, yeah, how was it received by the audience? You don't know until you try, right. And so to feel okay with creating work that is critical, and therefore, also being presented on this, in a certain kind of space that perhaps the audience might not be expecting that. And I think, expectation and challenging expectations, and kind of flipping those expectations and turning them around, that's part of the, I think that's part of our job in terms of, at least the dramaturgical aspects of, of choreography and direction is well, like, there are ways of engaging with the familiar with an audience. But there's also in ways of also, you know, shifting their perspectives through sometimes through the familiar and then also and then kind of subverting it and, and so yeah, expectation, honest conversation. And also, what is, what is the right mode of connection? What is, what feels like the most appropriate or necessary means to communicate that information? Or even proximity to your audience. Is it important that you're, you know, that you're perhaps three feet away, as opposed to 30 feet away in this moment? What's the lighting that's going to highlight and amplify the certain aspects of this moment that you feel to be important. And so like, framing, which I think also we get into, like interdisciplinary practice and pedagogy here at PMA, choreography is very much like film direction, it's very much like theater direction. How you light, how you frame, points of view and perspective. Sometimes in my classes, we use the same terminology that we would use, like, in a fundamentals filmmaking class in direction of like, how you capture the shot, right? Like thinking about the perspective of your audience, and to be aware of that in terms of maintaining your power as a, as a dance maker, can be really exciting. But yeah, it's interesting. Whenever I put audiencing into like a Word doc, like, spellcheck always comes up and I'm like, I'm sticking with it. Yeah.

Olive Prince  39:37

I think in the atrium, too, the audience has a lot of freedom. And I just hope they take time with it, you know, and like, can, can be in that, that sort of freedom. And it's really nice to like, well, you know, I don't know if it'll be a juxtaposed experience, but it's nice that there's, there's sort of two experiences where, where you can, you know, you are chatting with people, you are like, having a more communal, conversational event and witnessing work simultaneously similar to like being in a gallery. And I just think, you know, there's the possibility for, I don't know, I want to say more enriching, but I don't know what I'm comparing it to. So that sounds faulty. But the opportunity for the audience to engage in multitude of ways with work.

Chris Christensen  40:25

Is there any concern, like a content warning for audience? Age cut off, or?

Danielle Russo  40:37

There is some explicit language in one of our music tracks that some of our guests contributed. But aside from that, I mean, there are some, I think, mature conversations being had, but um, that's, that's all for here. Yeah.

Chris Christensen  40:54

Okay. Nothing in terms of the imagery that people will be seeing.

Danielle Russo  40:57


Christopher Christensen   40:58


Leah Ingalls  40:58

Is there anything that we have not covered today that either of you would like to, to mention or to pose the question before we close out here?

Danielle Russo  41:08

Yes, I have, I do have some, some credits I need to list if that's okay. So, This Table Has Been a House in the Rain is a embodied reference in response to Joy Harjo’s Perhaps the World Ends Here, which is a part of The Woman Who Fell From the Sky published in 1984. And we were graciously given permission to use, by the author and also by her publishers, WW Norton and Company. I'd also like to thank Keith Hennessy, Ishmael Houston-Jones, and Eiko Otake for their generous contributions and involvement in the project. And the 2024 Annual Spring Dance Presenting Series is made possible through the generosity and support of Cornell University's Freedom of Expression theme year, Cheryl Whaley, and Erica Beloff, and the Lisa Lu foundation. We would also like to thank our chair, Dr. Samantha Sheppard, our colleague, Dr. Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz, Andrew Deppen, Alexa Alfonsi, and the entire production crew and staff for all their generosity in making our students’ imaginations possible.

Leah Ingalls  42:12

One thing that we should perhaps record before we leave and perhaps stitch in somewhere is where folks can find tickets.

Danielle Russo  42:21

So, the series will take place for three evenings April 25th, through 27th. Doors will open at 7pm and there's a pre show experience in the Kiplinger. The mainstage performance will start at 7:30. The mainstage performance will be about 75 minutes long, and then it will go directly into the post performance installation in the atrium. Refreshments will also be served, and we encourage folks to, to gather and to connect and engage with the tremendous work that the students are sharing there. It is free and open to the public. And we encourage folks to make reservations for their tickets online. But to also to come in person, it's going to be first come first serve in terms of seating, and we have plenty of seats. It's a very large theater space and we were really excited about bringing people together and gathering a fantastic, yeah, communal turnout.

Chris Christensen  43:22

Thank you both so much for being on the show.

Danielle Russo  43:24

Thank you.

Olive Prince 43:24

Thank you.


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Danielle Russo and Olive Prince