Adam Barruch | Interview
Somewhere in a Manhattan apartment, Adam Barruch awaits Hurricane Sandy. A guest choreographer for River North Dance Chicago’s 2012 Fall Engagement at the Harris, the Juilliard grad doesn’t sugarcoat the serious nature of the storm, saying that he’s “battened down the hatches.” He kindly takes time to talk about his new premiere for RivNo, and what he’s got packed away in his hurricane survival bag.
How are you holding up with Hurricane Sandy on the way?
Things are okay. Right now it’s just a bit windy with a little rain, so hopefully it won’t get too much worse than what it is.
Is everyone in New York going nuts?
Yeah, everyone’s kind of out there, getting groceries and preparing. Everyone’s making a pretty big deal of it, as they usually do on the news. We’ll see what happens.
Must be quite the sight for a native New Yorker.
Yeah, I actually grew up in Westchester. When I was about ten years old, I started working as a kid actor, so I went into the city a lot. I ended up going to LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts when I was 14.
Would we have seen you in anything?
I did A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden for a few years. I did a couple things for Nickelodeon and VH1. I did a production at Goodspeed. It was cool; I got a lot of practice going to auditions. [Laughs]
How did you transition to dance?
Mainly through musical theater. I started off singing and acting, and then I started dancing. I felt like I had a natural proclivity to movement, and seeing Bob Fosse’s work practically solidified my decision to pursue dance.
Do you still use those acting techniques?
Once I left school, I wanted to dance in work that I was able to connect with emotionally. As a choreographer, I try to create movement that’s inherently emotional and expressive.
What was the inspiration for your new piece with River North, I Close My Eyes Until the End?
The tracks of music that I use are by a composer named by Olafur Arnalds. The titles were in Icelandic. I didn’t know what they meant until I researched them. I think the first one was "From the Beginning," the second was "'Till the End" and the other one was called "Close Your Eyes." The landscape felt very psychological because the music feels like a dream. I was interested in the psychological aspect of it, so I rearranged the words and came up with I Close My Eyes Until the End to represent a space where one would fantasize or dream about some sort of intimacy. That feeling sort of ends when we open our eyes and come back to reality.
You were quoted in Dance Magazine, talking about the personal tipping point of a dancer. You said at one point your body just “gave out mentally and physically.” What was that moment like for you?
It was a very intense moment. It was at point when I had to reevaluate how I approached my work. I really loved being at Juilliard. It was an amazing experience. I think I just got caught up with the intensity of the program. When I left, I wanted to find a way to have a healthy relationship with dance again, and to find a way of moving that was intrinsic to me, and to what I wanted to express. When I was going through that, I harkened back to my original roots as an actor because I was over-intellectualizing movement a bit. As an actor, I felt safer expressing myself and I felt like it was more of an emotional connection. One of my teachers very smartly said to me, "you know, movement is emotional." I didn’t really understand that at the time. As I started to do more research and watch many different choreographers and artists—not just dance—there were a lot of people that inspired me. They were able to connect the physical parts with the emotional parts.
Just out of curiosity, what’s in your hurricane survival bag right now?
[Laughs] Well, I have a lot of groceries. I just downloaded a bunch of movies from iTunes, in case I get stuck in my apartment for a while.
I was actually inspired by Halloween, so I have some old horror movies. I’ve got Rosemary’s Baby. That should be a good one.