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Interview with the Artist: Selene B. Carter

Tektonika Ondine Photography: Jeremy Hogan

Tektonika Ondine, Photography: Jeremy Hogan

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

Cincinnati is a vital urban center for the arts in the mid-west. I am deeply committed to underscoring and celebrating the work of mid-western contemporary artists. We have a commitment to work ethic, creative process and a heart connection that is unique to our region. Half of the performers in my work are recruited from the Cincinnati area. My piece is about a working community and it felt only right to include locals in this community. Also, the local newspaper has a role. (More will be revealed, and no pun intended!)

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

Tektonima Ondine is a dance installation. Most of it is set choreography, yet there are improvised scores imbedded within it. There is an large nonhuman element (I want it to be a surprise for the audience!) that reifies space and acts as a performer, making sound, moving and changing shape. Also, the performers are of mixed abilities, not all are technically trained dancers.

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

The community of people in the work are the biggest influence by far. Nick Melloan-Ruiz is a performer with cerebral palsy. A lot of the movement development emerged out of how he relates to gravity and space. How he falls. Disney’s the Little Mermaid was an icon for him growing up. He identifies with the mermaid in terms of his physical limitations. How are each of us out or in our element as movers, as people in our communities? When are we fish out of water and how do we cope with that? What allows us to feel safely engaged and a part of a functional and productive group of people?

I am also a historian of American concert dance and I am deeply influenced by post-modern dance pioneer, Simone Forti. I was doing research on her early career and became fascinated with her collaborator (and ex-husband) Robert Whitman’s installations of the 1960’s, especially Flower (1960)and American Moon (1963). I was also thinking about Joseph Albers and the Russian Constructivist movement in art and architecture. Albers founded the infamous Black Mountain College, and the artists that worked there (Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, MC Richards among them) hugely influenced the end of the last century in art and dance.

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

Extemporaneous

Messy

Playful

About Selene B. Carter

Selene Carter, choreographer, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her work integrates improvisation, site specific performance, interdisciplinary collaboration and reconfigurations of historic dances. A certified instructor in the Bill Evan’s Laban based modern dance technique, she received Chicago’s highest honor for dance, the Ruth Page Award for her improvised dance performances. This year her choreography was presented by Milwaukee’s Wild Space Dance Company’s in their Reckless Wonders concert, in the Regional Alternative Dance (RAD) Festival, Kalamazoo, Michigan and in the Breaking Ground Dance Festival, Tempe, Arizona. In 2014 she was a charter member of Doug Varone’s choreographic mentorship project, Devices.

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