Peridance Faculty member, Marinda Davis took a leap of faith and began her own company, marinspired a little over a year ago. While they have had ups and downs on the way the company has already performed at Symphony Space, The Young Choreographers Festival, and the Joyce. This August 27th & 28th Peridance is excited to welcome marinspired to the Salvatore Capezio Theater for the premier of "breakable." I was able to speak with Marinda about the company's development, how the journey has gone so far, and her own journey as an artist.
1. Tell me a little about how marInspired came into formation as a company?
We are actually trying to get away from the term "company". I do not see us aligning with the term's connotation amongst New York’s dance culture. I guess if we were to be defined it would be as an "experience." Instead of trying to put a circle into a square we are trying to make a different shape entirely! We are a combination of movement and theatre with a large emphasis on all that is musical. While I would be thrilled to perform at the Joyce, or Dance Theater Workshop, or any of the other amazing venues in this city but, I do not see us fitting in there. Ultimately, I want to be in venues like Madison Square Garden. I want to bring dance to the masses. It may seem like an outlandish goal, but I feel like it can one day be done. I know there's a niche and desire among the masses for dance in the same way that there is for music, a niche that has been capitalized on by the recording industry. It may have to be done in collaboration with big name recording artists first, but eventually I believe the demand can be as much for dance as it is for music. SYTYCD has started to fill that gap but I'd like to do it in a more artistic setting. The LA contemporary dance scene is booming and I want to bring that excitement and support surrounding contemporary dance to New York. There's a void and why not start filling it?
I feel like dance has gotten so elite. The stories we tell are real and something anyone can relate to. I do not think that a story can ever get old; a broken heart was just as devastating 200 years ago, as it is today, and will be 200 years from now. Dance is often at the bottom of the artistic funding totem pole and I think bringing the art to a more tangible level is a major goal of what I'm doing.
I am on the convention circuit, and reach tens of thousands of very talented kids a year. The talent out there is mind-boggling. For years, I've seen these proficient kids move to New York and not get work. There is so much under-used talent out there; it makes me nauseous. One of the reasons I created marInspired was to provide a venue for these artists to dance in works that utilize their abilities. It not only eases their transition into the New York dance scene, but also allows them to perform work that challenges them. I was very lucky to have a set of incredible mentors and I am proud to pass that on to the next generation.
2) This is the company’s second year, how have things been going?
It has definitely been a journey! I knew but I didn't TRULY know what it would take to do this. I constantly find myself physically, emotionally, and financially drained, but simultaneously so happy. There are days I have to pinch myself; dreams are definitely being realized and it's beyond anything I ever imagined.
The first year we mainly performed at festivals. We presented a piece at Symphony Space at the Young Choreographer's Festival as well as at DRA's Dancin Downtown at the Joyce. To present work at such renowned venues our first year out was pretty incredible. Even so, we've had a lot of false starts, a lot of disappointments, and a lot of lessons. As we all know, there are aspects to and people within our industry that can be disheartening, so it's been a long road to this beautiful moment we find ourselves in now.
I have come to see that there is truly a reason for everything. This current group of artists feels right to me. There is positivity, passion and talent everywhere I look. There’s definitely something special brewing. The support we have is overwhelming and I feel grateful and blessed daily. I have 18 unique artists, 3 junior apprentices, a producer, backers, and an incredible creative team helping shape a show of close to 20 short story pieces. Hard work and timing have brought us here but I still feel so lucky.
3) What do you think the hardest part of being a choreographer is? Any advice you would give to new/aspiring choreographers?
Without question, putting yourself out there in such a colossal way and the internal and external pressure that accompanies it. It's your life and it's your work and it's deeply personal. It's interesting how much doubt and instant criticism surrounds new projects and sadly, it almost always comes from people within the industry. People have a sort of fear-based reaction; most act as though you're doomed. Is it rational to be fearful of doing the work we feel we were put on this planet to do?
Of course, I am scared. The fear can be debilitating if you let it be. Pat Conroy, one of my favorite author's once said, "every one of my books has almost killed me." Most creative minds will instantly understand that notion and few will blink at the idea. The doubt, the pressure to constantly top yourself and consistently produce brilliance has driven many an artist off the deep end. I've had to build a sort of psychological shield to keep separate me, my process, my work and the natural anxiety over the reaction to that work and the things being said about it. I think any creative mind can relate to being "tortured" by their gift and the expectations that come with it. Liz Gilbert says in her lecture, A New Way to Think About Creativity; "just continue to show up for your piece of it. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed for just one moment through your efforts then…'ole. and if not, do your dance anyhow, and ole to you just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up."
So ....show up. Never stop learning. Remain humble. Don't expect. Work hard. Enjoy the process over the product's results. Think of your gift as a loan. Attempt to be self made. Be a good person. My talent has gotten me far, but who I am has gotten me farther a fact made clear to me by support that currently surrounds us. Give as much as you can; it always comes back around when you least expect it.
4) What is the inspiration behind "breakable?"
Life! Relationships, friendships, loss, the ups, the downs (;) there isn't one piece in the show that doesn't come directly from a page of my own story. Some pieces more abstractly and others literally, but they are all touchable and open to interpretation by both the dancers and the audience.
The main theme is the fragility of humans: physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I've been through a lot physically in my life, but I am constantly amazed by how matters of the heart bring you to your knees just as fiercely. I have gone into cardiac arrest four times in the past three years and on two of those occasions my heart completely stopped. Obviously these experiences underlie the themes of "breakable." Anybody who has crossed over to the other side can tell you that they are both instantly and eternally changed. The perspective you gain from coming back is illuminating. The last time I had this experience was in November and it's taken me a long time to come back from it. In fact, I am still coming back and not sure if I ever fully will. Mortality was certainly a factor in the push for this show to finally happen. Why wait a second longer? Why do it any other way than big? Clichés are clichés because they are generally true. Life is short. Work hard and show up, until you can't.
For more information on Marinda's classes at Peridance click here.
For more information on marinspired click here.