In 2015, MANCC established its Embedded Writers Initiative. Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this initiative is designed to support the re-imagining of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms. In the past five years, 25 MANCC artists have invited 28 writers to join them in residence; the writers’ subsequent works have manifested in different ways, ranging from scholarly publications, to critical reviews, curriculum materials, and writings that accompany the live performance.
In 2018, writer Biba Bell came to MANCC with Neil Greenberg for his residency to further To The Things Themselves! The December and January issues of Critical Correspondence, a digital publication by Movement Research, feature conversations that took place while Neil Greenberg was in residence at MANCC between the collaborators of To the Things Themselves! and writer Biba Bell.
Part one of the two-part interview is a conversation between Bell and three collaborators: Opal Ingle, Kyli Kleven, and Omagbitse Omagbemi, while the second part is a conversation with Greenberg. The group conversation centered on the Greenberg’s process from the point of view of the dancers, emphasizing their experiences inside of the improvisational scores of the work. As Bell explains,
“Central to these conversations is the process by which meaning is summoned through movement, image, language, and the force of its associations. A sense of play runs thick through the veins of the work, devised through improvisation, rigorous movement (self) study and analysis, and a soma-performative process of what he describes as ‘filling it with body.’”
In her conversation with Greenberg, the two unpacked these ideas around improvisational scores more fully. He mentioned a list of prompts that he keeps on his computer, and on the topic of ideas and scores shifting overtime, explained,
“That’s what we talked about the other day. That you play with it and this is a part of working on a continuum, staying within an arena. The dancers sometimes say of their solo improvisations, ‘in this section I remember I was thinking about this thing,’ from our list of improvisation values and interests.”
While the work is built out of certain scores, the material embedded within these scores continues to shift, shape, and take on new meaning over time.
Following their time at MANCC, To The Things Themselves! premiered at The Chocolate Factory in December 2018. This residency was supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts with funding for Bell as the Embedded Writer from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
To read the full interviews, please visit:
https://movementresearch.org/publications/critical-correspondence/biba-bell-in-conversation-with-opal-ingle-kyli-kleven-and-omagbitse-omagbemi (Part 1)
https://movementresearch.org/publications/critical-correspondence/biba-bell-in-conversation-with-neil-greenberg-part-2-of-2 (Part 2)