Interview with the Artist: Jeri Deckard Gatch

Jeri's New Dance, Photography: Lynn Siegfried

Jeri’s New Dance, Photography: Lynn Siegfried

How do you feel the Cincinnati area has played a role in your creative process? 

For this piece specifically, there is an active social media presence here and people who will engage online. Overall, the CDT is supportive from beginning to end in letting choreographers explore ideas and bring them to life. 

What do you feel is the most unique element to your piece? 

The 6 year online history of this piece, from the few months before the 2009 concert through now, and the overall interweaving of technology from our daily life onto the stage. In 2015 this has been a much easier process simply because of how we function daily, it is not at all uncommon for the dancers to have their phone in their hand for the entire rehearsal.  BUT- when we did this piece originally, in 2009, it was very hard for them! None of us lived like that. In 2009, Twitter and Facebook were not ubiquitous, not everyone was texting as a primary means of communication. 

*Almost in spite of the use of our technology, I don’t think we lost site of what matters, and this piece has a beautiful and unique way of, while incorporating the current technology, feeling highly personal and extremely human from beginning to end; from “boot up to shut down” we are 5 people traveling a path together. 

What or who are the biggest influences for you on this piece? 

The way I, my family, and friends live daily. I watch as we all struggle to make social media, and technology in general, work FOR is, and not against us. I think we all struggle to find a way to be able to turn off when needed. I wonder sometimes if technology is literally making our daily world/stage bigger, or it is making it smaller with it’s clutter.

If you could describe your piece with three words what would they be?

Fun, engaging, current

What do you feel is the most notable change you’ve found in reworking this piece?

As noted above, the ease in which the dancers now interact with the technology they have throughout the piece. For example, in 2009, they had to memorize texting shortcuts, because it wasn’t a part  of their vocabulary. We also had phone calls as a part of the original piece which may not have happened if I had made the piece now, so we found a way to need to call and not text. Also, we have added another dancer which gives more possibilities and texture to the movement sections.

Also, I have found pure joy in realizing the things that we do now that simply didn’t exist in 2009! …In particular, “hashtags” and “selfies” as 2 examples!

How do you feel about social media’s role in the arts both as a subject and a vehicle for communication?

I think as a subject, everyone has made a piece about it and the thing I am probably most proud of is that we did it 6 years ago. I already felt that shadow of tech starting to encroach on private life, creative process, and personal time. 

I think that now social media will be a subject simply because it is a fact of life of how we live and communicate, it is not a terribly big stretch today to include it.

As communication, it is simply the current mode, and I would say, necessary for promotion of yourself and your art. It is efficient, quick, and easy to manipulate. I hope everyone takes time to look up @JerisNewDance on Twitter and Facebook and appreciate the 6 year history that is there to be shared and engaged with on an ongoing basis. Reach out and feel #connected to JerisNewDance!

About Jeri Deckard Gatch

Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Jeri Deckard Gatch is a Modern Dance teacher, choreographer, and performer. She earned her BS: Kinesiology from Indiana University, and her MFA: Performance and Choreography from Temple University where she also taught for 2 years.  Jeri was adjunct faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Dance and Theater Departments. Since moving back to the Mid-West, Jeri has worked through the Contemporary Dance Theater since 1999, Growth In Motion, and performed with several local choreographers, as well as guest teaching. Jeri choreographed for a workshop at the Playhouse In the Park, lead pre-school Creative Movement, was twice a Modern Dance faculty teacher at the Ohio Dance Festival, and in recent years was commissioned by Miami University, Berea College, and College of Lake County to set new works on their companies.  Jeri served a two year term on the Board of Trustees of OhioDance, and is a Founding and Board member of Greater Cincinnati Dance Alliance. For two years, she was Co-President of the Mariemont School District’s Arts Association and is an Adjunct Faculty at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Supporting and inspiring all of her movement projects is Jeri’s family, for which she gives unending thanks.