Interview | Faye Driscoll
The Brooklyn-based choreographer on roles as costumes, and on bringing methods and questions back from her work in theater.
How do you reconcile character-driven work with some of the more conventional, you might say, dance vocabularies that you use?
[Each role] is completely interdependent with that person [who originated it]. Part of what I think about with a new project is that I choose, very particularly, who I’m drawn to. Because the work is really dynamic in that way, like in 837 Venice Blvd. and There is so much mad in me, my most recent larger works, people were alternately playing people who weren’t them, and doing and saying things that very much were connected to their [own] experiences. There was a part [in so much mad in me] where one of the characters basically flips out on the other two and says every horrible thing about them that you could imagine, which came from some writings that we did about the horrible things that we think about ourselves. It was really intense to go through that process with [the dancers], and to have enough trust to say all of those things, and then also to be able to recognize that [the scene has] become a third thing. That it’s personal, but it’s not. It’s also a container.
But you’ve also restaged works and transferred roles to other dancers.
I had to tour both [so much mad in me and 837 Venice Blvd.] and, for 837, I had to replace the lead dancer in [that work], and also in There is so much mad in me. A very important dancer. I panicked. I thought, I can’t do this without these people. It was so much about them. My connection to the work was so much through these people. It took a process, but it was interesting to see that the container of the work did hold. [The work] wasn’t the same [afterward], but what we had built from this intense, layered, psychological process, coming from very personal places, created a character that another person, the right person, could fit into. The work was still as strong as it was with the original cast member. So that was a relief to me, not to think, This person is moving to Europe, so I’ll never be able to present this dance again.
Do you have any connections to Chicago?
My mom’s from Chicago and so she’s excited.
So have you spent a lot of time here, then?
Not a lot of time. My cousins were there and we’d visit. I had my first real experience with winter there. I grew up in Los Angeles, so I remember getting out of the cab, going from the cab to the restaurant, and barely being able to make it.