Artist Interview: Stephen Clapp of Dance Box Theater
Exciting local companies Dance Box Theater and force/collision take to our stage this weekend to present two original works — Windswept, created and performed by Stephen Clapp of Dance Box Theater, and force/collision’s JARMAN (all this maddening beauty) by Founding Director John Moletress. Inspired by queer icon Derek Jarman, Moltress’ work merges video and live performance to reconstruct the essence of the cult figure, artistic legacy and punk movement through the transatlantic lens of today. This piece brings together a community of over 40 performers through video and sound, manipulated in real time by a single performer whose own story unravels within that of Jarman’s tale. Windswept — a piece that embodies a similar sense of social awareness — explores the effects of global climate change through dramatic choreography and an insightful narrative. We spoke with Clapp to find out more about the performance and his myriad creative influences, both personal and professional. Join us for this duo of provocative works on Sunday, October 19 at 7pm at Dance Place. Tickets can be purchased online via our website.
Describe this performance in one sentence.
A kinesthetic experience of climate change dogma.
Tell us a little bit about the inspiration/creative process behind Windswept.
As my first full-evening solo dance concert, the process of [creating] Windswept has been uniquely challenging. My approach to the development of this work has been to explore ecological processes as movement inspiration, metaphor and as a lens to examine social inequities, media responses and the human experiences of climate change.
Movement explorations included a significant research phase that [involved] participation in an experiential lecture series hosted by the Mount Washington Observatory at the summit of Mount Washington in Northern New Hampshire. This series focused on the complexities of our changing climate and was facilitated by Harvard University geologist Dr. Mark Van Baalen. I am grateful to the folks I have met through this process including Nicky Sundt and Althea Skinner of the World Wildlife Fund (Althea is also a dance artist with Rebollar Dance, among others). These and other individuals have helped me to contextualize information about climate change and [visualize] a wider perspective than what is generally reported in mainstream media.
What do you hope to communicate to audience members through your performance?
Windswept aims to share a vision of hope that identifies potential pathways of thought and action for personal consideration by each witness [audience member] in order to further the imaginative discourse of human evolution. Thus, exploring the possibilities of how personal experiences become political dialogue, ultimately fostering positive social change.
Who or what have been some of your greatest creative influences?
Starting with my family, Laura Schandelmeier, my creative and life partner is a constant inspiration. And my step-daughter Holly Rae McClintock, who is currently studying in the fashion department at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago is also a huge source of inspiration. The ability to engage in meaningful dialogue about art making and the conceptualization of art in my own home is a truly invaluable source of inspiration that makes my work what it is today. Aside from my familiar inspiration, some of my greatest creative influences [include] Marty Pottenger, Celeste Miller, Liz Lerman, Paul Zaloom and Naomi Klien, to name just a few…
What do you do to stay artistically inspired and creatively challenged?
It’s not necessarily something that I do to stay creatively challenged. It is simply how I choose to exist in the world. Living artfully, seeing as much live dance and theater performances as possible, and working outside of the studio to support the network of dance happening here in the DC area. I am constantly inspired by the many, many dance artists making work [locally]. I recently saw the performance of PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATER and was extremely moved by their artistry. So, I suppose, seeing the work of other artists is my main source of inspiration.
This performance is an artist co-presentation.
Interview by Rachel Eva Lim