DanceForce Member: Cynthia Williams
Artists: Claire Porter, Cynthia Williams
Community Partner: Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva
Choreographer, performer and Laban Movement Analyst Claire Porter was commissioned to create a solo for Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Dance professor Cynthia Williams, for an April 20-22, 2017 Faculty Dance Concert. Williams had been a featured performer in ensemble works created by Porter for the Bill Evans Teachers Intensives workshops 2013-2016 and believed the process of working with Porter would provide mutual artistic benefits.
The planning and rehearsal process spanned four months and included three on-site rehearsals in Geneva, NY, (2/17-2/19, 3/3-3/5, 3 24-3/26) multiple skype rehearsals, (once a week March and April) and many email and telephone exchanges. Porter and Williams collaborated on ideas for the text, following Porter’s interest in “rules” and wrote and edited and rewrote several scripts. Porter directed Williams in the process of movement creation, using Laban language to indicate general parameters within which Williams created movement phrases for the piece. The process was highly collaborative with both artists full partners in the creation of the work. The resulting piece, “Overruled,” is an eleven minute solo that deftly combines text, movement, humor, and political commentary, described by reviewer Rose Beauchamp:
“Cynthia Williams carried a delightful, idiosyncratic, and full-bodied performance in Overruled. It was obvious from the beginning that Cynthia had a great deal of contribution in this piece. Her bold personality and directness were beaming brightly as this smart yet comical composition highlighted her strengths. The clever use of words integrated with the nuance of gesture was an overall strength of the piece, a forte of Claire Porter’s choreography. Cynthia clearly navigated this difficult performance feat with skill and ease. The movement and the text complimented each other throughout the piece with highlighted moments of congruency; in which the gesture and the words seemed to match. This served as an effective punctuation and not as a redundancy as it can often become. Bravo for the deliberate and intelligent nature of this choice.”
The piece was promoted in announcements for the Faculty Dance Concert, highlighting Porter’s status as a guest choreographer: ‘The concert opens with a solo created by text and movement maven Claire Porter for Cynthia Williams. Commissioned by Williams and supported by a Faculty Research Grant and an award from DanceForce, the piece explores our attraction to rules and the consequences of their disappearance. “Overruled” will be performed at the Somatic Dance Conference and Performance Festival in Geneva, NY this July, and potentially for the Women in Dance Conference in NYC in January 2018.’
The partnership between choreographer Porter and performer Williams was strengthened. Communities served are the audiences who attended the Faculty Dance Concert, and the audiences who will see the piece in July and potentially January, 2018. Porter noted that the process was fun and stimulating and took her in a totally new direction than she was expecting. Audience members continue to come up to Williams and express their appreciation of the piece, six weeks after the performance.