Interview | Richard Move
The choreographer and TEDGlobal Fellow on how Martha Graham’s work sunk its claws into his mind, on choreographing for the Strangers with Candy film and much, much more.
In this week’s issue of Time Out Chicago, you can read, who performs on Wednesday 24 at the MCA Stage as part of .
I kept my composure, more or less, while on the phone with Move from his home in Manhattan, but broke into laughter a few times while transcribing our conversation later. Here, for your edutainment, are his generous words in their entirety.
I’m calling for Richard Move. Is that you?
That’s me! Hel-lo! So: What are you all about? What are you up to? What’s your angle? What are you trying to get out of me?
A couple of things. I want to know what you plan to do at the Chicago Dancing Festival.
I can’t speak to that. [Pauses] I’m kidding.
And also about the Martha character, how she was born and how she’s grown and evolved.
Fabulous. It started when I was a teenager in a performing arts high school studying drama, and we were encouraged to take dance classes, as any good drama program encourages or requires, “Movement for Actors” or whatever, and this is when I was growing up in rural Virginia, Stafford, near Fredericksburg. There was one dance studio and they were offering tap and baton and jazz and then something called “modern,” and I was feeling—well, I was 15, 16, so I was definitely feeling “modern.”
I ascended the staircase of [In a deep, Southern accent] the Fredericksburg Dance Studio, on Caroline Street, and here was the most extremely beautiful woman I had ever seen, in the middle of summer, in full black, classic Graham, long-sleeved leotard and turtleneck and full, long, black rehearsal skirt, full face of makeup, bleached blond hair up in a high bun, named Margaret Ann Moss, who was a disciple of Helen McGehee, who was a very important Graham dancer who lived in a nearby town. So I’m in this class and it’s the most extremely difficult technique, taught with the most poetic, almost cultlike, almost religious imagery. I was totally swept up into it.
Graham was so on another plane. She lived in her own hyper-reality and universe that she created for herself, and I loved the extremity of the beauty. Don’t forget…well, I don’t know what we would call it now, because postmodernism is in year, like, 60 or 70 now, so that’s old-fashioned, but everyone was wearing pajamas and doing release technique and improvisations, and I was more interested in harder stuff like [Merce] and dance-theater, Pina Bausch, that kind of work.