Interview with the Artist: Steven P. Evans
Steven P. Evans, Photography: Jeanne MamLuft
How do you feel the Cincinnati area has played a role, if at all, in your creative process?
I grew up in Cincinnati, so I think it played a major role in my growing process. I was involved in a lot of art programs after school and during. I primarily was attracted to the art museum and all its ever changing exhibitions, the many shows that the Aronoff produces every year, the symphony orchestra, and of course the Cincinnati Ballet. But I never could find a niche for modern dance in Cincinnati. My creative process is driven by the need to bring palatable modern dance to Cincinnati that is not performed by ballerinas, but by the pluralist bodies of today’s dancers. Myself as well as my dancers have trained in many techniques. To name a few: the classics of modern dance Horton, Graham, Cunningham, and Limone, as well as newer techniques like Gaga developed by Ohad Naharin in Israel, which I am personally informed by. There is so much more to dance than Ballet and the “Ballet Body”, and this really informs my process.
What do you feel is the most unique element to your piece?
My dancers are so very different from one another and myself. We all have different dance histories and we all move differently. Its nice because I feel that it becomes not an extension of my vision, but becomes a cohesion of the three of us. This is the same “pluralist” idea that I was talking about early. I’m not looking for one body, but the togetherness of all our bodies and movement together.
What or who are the biggest influences for you on this piece?
My biggest influence for my piece is that I was recently asked to be marry my Fiancé. Of course I said yes, and we immediately started pondering how things would be different when we were married. I realized that nothing will change but that it will be a continuation of my love for my partner. He and I are starting a new chapter on our journey, and are excited. But this had me think about the ‘cycles’ we put our relationships through. Right after marriage we have “honeymoons’ which are typically a time period that we spend getting to know one another better on our first days of marriage. I always hear people talk about these significant but small pieces of time from many marriages, but why isn’t every single day as important as that? Why isn’t the smaller moments like living my day to day as important? It’s like saying to me that “my honeymoon is the symbol of my infinite relationship and can only happen once”. But I want to live each day of my marriage as if it is a honeymoon. Each day is precious, caring, respectful, full of interest in the present, dreaming of a future, exploring, talking, living. Even if these movements are full of conflict, it is just a cycle of life. We are forever changing as humans and as individuals, so my relationship will also go through many cycles and phases. Hints the title ‘Honey(Moon)’.
Is there any specific inspirational honeymoon that made you think of the concept for your piece, Honeymoons?
Great question. Nope. I was really just inspired by my own journey through life. My own beliefs in love, which stem from my Buddhist beliefs. One cannot be attached to an idea or moment because all is forever changing and has always been changing.
In your proposal, you described your music choice from Susumu Yokota as visceral, sincere, and emotionally deep. How do you feel this music choice ties into your concept of honeymoons?
Well, as a part of every process the music changes and Ideas change. Susumu Yokata did not work out for what I was looking for aesthetically. I am still playing with music and have found a few things that have produced good results. As an artist, I cannot say that I am not informed by music. I grew up playing piano for 11 years of my life, and have written music and I listen to all genres. I love the diversity of music and what it can bring to music. It is important for me to feel that the music creates an atmosphere that supports the visceral, sincere, and emotional levels of my piece. I think music informs our everyday lives. The places we shop, eat, the movies we watch, the music we personally listen to inform us of our moods and the atmosphere that they are we want to create. So my music selection has changed but was definitely originally informed by Susumu Yakota.
If you could describe your piece with three words what would they be?
This is hard. Love (in the thousands of forms it comes in), Understanding, Truthfulness
About Steven P. Evans
Steven Evans is a second-year company member of MamLuft&Co. Dance and a recent graduate of Ohio University. Steven made his choreographic debut in Cincinnati, Ohio with Contemporary Dance Theater’s Area Choreographers Festival in 2014. He was also a lead choreographer in MamLuft&Co. Dance’s collaboration with Cincinnati Art Museum for The Tragedy of Time, in which a site-specific work was created for the museum’s iconic Great Hall in reaction to German Expressionist prints surrounding WWI. As a student at Ohio University, Evans received scholarships and awards while studying with Gladys Bailin, Mickie Geller, Tersa Randall, Adriana Durant, Madeleine Scott, Travis Gatling, Marina Walchli, Lisa Locke, and Chengxin Wei. He apprenticed with the Sean Curran Company in New York City in the summer of 2012. Evans received funding from the College of Fine Arts Award and The Student Research and Creative Activity Grant as apart of a research opportunity to explore improvisation, choreography, and somatic studies in a visit to New York City during his apprenticeship. He has been teaching and exploring the dynamic influences of improvisation to develop and refine his individual artistic voice through movement.