Tales of Hopper: A work in progress by Cherylyn Lavagnino / by More Canvas Consulting

Post 1
Cherylyn Lavagnino
May 5, 2019

Having worked with Martin Bresnick on a recent project and discovering a harmonious collaborative and creative relationship between us, we endeavored on a new work for CLD. He proposed two ideas: a Shakespeare project and an Edward Hopper project. I was simply intimidated by the prospect of a work on Shakespeare and, at that point in time, knew of no one who had made a work on Edward Hopper. (I came to find through my research later that Bridgman|Packer Dance had done a work with projections and imagery reflecting Hopper’s paintings.)

I did a great deal of both reading about and looking at Hopper’s work to prepare for the rehearsal process. From this research, it became clear to me that my approach to movement needed to be very distilled and that I should move away from a lot of large movement and toward a more pedestrian vocabulary utilizing gesture, acting, and a carefully considered movement vocabulary. What became fun and imaginative for me as a choreographer was creating the scenarios related to the paintings, connecting characters from various paintings, and creating relationships between them. Hopper preferred his audience not to see what objects and narratives were in his paintings, but to feel them. This particular directive has informed my creative process. Rather than be explicit about a story line, I am working with the dancers to create an emotional narrative that is evoked by gesture, proximity, and stillness.

In this new chapter for CLD, the workspace has become increasingly collaborative between my wonderful dance artists and myself. They are very much enjoying expanding their range and stepping into a role that requires more acting skills than ever before. At this point, we have created a series of vignettes created directly from his images. I plan to place them in an interesting set that will abstractly evoke his paintings with the intent to find a visual and emotional arc that will take the audience on a journey as they witness these very human moments.