Choreographer: Lauri Stallings
Music: B.E. Taylor
Costumes: April McCoy
Set Design: Christo Braun
Lighting: Robert Hand
World Premiere: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, February 14, 2008
PBT Performance Date: February 2008
Program Notes (from PBT playbill, 2008)
By Carol Meeder, former Director of Arts Education
The Road to Achieving a Vision
Lauri Stallings, Choreographer Christo Braun, Artist / Designer
Lauri Stallings is a contemporary artist who is interested in the research of dance and its adherent quality to develop human potential. She is interested in the world that can be inscribed and the one that can be described.
I am drawn to contrasts. The simplest analogy for this would be the duality of life and death: if we did not have death to encounter, would life and each day be so valued by us? As human beings we have the tendency to need some kind of proof. A fifth generation Floridian, I grew up jumping into pools both head and feet first. Now as an adult, that curiosity, inside process, is my innate pulse as an artist. The proof is in the process.
I use these contrasts a great deal in my work. Every morning, I wake up and plan my day. It never turns out as I planned. These unexpected events are taken into the studio, and measured in time, which is music, by the measuring of space, which is dance. Through highly physical and detailed vocabulary of movement, I work with the artist in front of me, sensitive to their own day, and encouraging them to bring the experience into the studio with them.
The gifts of creative process are immeasurable. Surely the act of collaborating with individuals from other mediums cannot be overstated. Life is collaboration, and simply put, begins with two. And, the beauty of dance is that it brings people together. As human beings, our natural, kinetic response to rhythm, whether it be our heartbeat, or the radio, is to move. And one of the few things we know for certain – the universe does indeed move.
I am honored to be a part of such a visceral arts form.
Christo Braun is an artistic Renaissance man. He began as a poet and writer who loved to paint. Then he expanded into other mediums of artistic expression. His work with pigmented polymer and epoxy resins on stainless steel attracted PBT as a perfect partner for Forever Love. For Christo, it is a new and exciting experience that casts his paintings as actors alongside the dancers.
It began with an introduction to choreographer Lauri Stallings and recording artist B.E. Taylor. We listened to his music, then I took it with me; listening in my truck and at home. I wanted to get it into my head and get infused with the energies of it. When I paint, I usually listen to classical music, and sometimes jazz, but always without lyrics. I like to focus on the energies of the music so I can draw emotional value from within, from a personal place.
This collaboration of theater and dance is new for me, working with live musicians and dancers. I followed Lauri’s lead so that I could get a flavor of the movement and activity on the stage. We brainstormed. Ideas and visions bounced back and forth, and from these exchanges I got my sense of “How will it look?” and "What kind of colors and graphics should be in the painting?”
Lighting is a key element, equally as critical as the music and choreography. Lighting designer Robert Hand and I have been in constant communication, making selections as to what will best complement the performance. Costumes are another integral element. Fabric swatches from the designs of April McCoy added color and texture into the decision making process.
Working with these resins on steel in cold weather is a real challenge. There is a limited range of temperature for their optimum use. I literally dance in the studio as I work to keep the medium alive while it is being applied to my steel canvas.
Being part of this production has been very exciting. If I do something to make it a cohesive union, then I have done my job.
The resins used to create Christo Braun’s installations for “Forever Love” were manufactured by the title sponsor, PPG Industries.