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By Tom Alvarez
The choreographer on his groundbreaking same-sex Les Noces
Known simply as DK, Dance Kaleidoscope is regarded as Indiana’s premier contemporary dance company. The Indianapolis-based troupe celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011. A large measure of its success is owed to the tireless efforts and vision of its artistic director, David Hochoy. A former member and rehearsal director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Hochoy has been at the helm of DK since 1991. Hochoy, whose movement is a hybrid of Graham technique and ballet, has choreographed over 50 works for the company.
Recently, Hochoy invited Tom Alvarez to his town house, filled with fascinating memorabilia from his career, to discuss his latest project—the world premiere of his version of Les Noces, Nijinska’s 1923 ballet about a Russian peasant wedding. Hochoy’s newest work, featuring a same-sex couple, will be presented May 16–19 at the Indiana Repertory Theatre in downtown Indianapolis.
Photo of Hochoy © J. Freeland, Courtesy DK.
Why are you making the main characters a same-sex couple? I asked myself, How can I do Les Noces in a fresh way for a contemporary audience that resonates with what’s current now? And the answer came to me: It has to be about same-sex marriage. That is what is on everybody’s hot-button list. I wondered if I would have the courage to do it because Indiana is very conservative. However, in the end, I talked myself into moving forward with it because if I don’t do it now, I am never going to do it. I am 61 years old, so it is now or never, baby. [laughs]
How are your dancers responding to the idea? They’re all for it. They love challenges and I think it’s going to be a challenge for all of us. As far as same-sex partnering, they are used to it. In 2011, I created a ballet called Electric Counterpoint where there was a lot of same-sex partnering, and they were very comfortable with each other. Dancers are very open because there has always been a gay component to dance.
Are you quoting or referencing the Nijinska choreography? I may. There are those iconic poses where all the faces are piled one on top of the other, and I may quote that. I just don’t know yet.
What do you hope this piece will say? That love is the same whether it is between a man and a woman, or a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. That it’s precious. That it’s what we have to share with each other and as human beings. That we have the right to love who we wish.
Noah Trulock and Justin David Sears-Watson in Hochoy’s Les Noces. Photo © Drew Endicott, Courtesy DK.
What did you take from working with Martha Graham? Finding my own truth. Being brave enough to take an idea that seemed far-fetched and go with it. Having the discipline to persevere at something that is difficult, and persist during tough times. When it’s easy, everyone can do it, but when it’s difficult, you have to really plug away at it day after day, minute after minute, second by second.
How have you expanded from Graham’s influence? Martha’s world was very dark, very foreboding. She had a lot of fears. One of her most famous works, Errand into the Maze, is a piece about fear. I see the lighter side of life. A lot of my pieces have a great deal of joy to them. It’s reflected in my movement vocabulary and expressed in the subjects I choose.
What do you look for in a dancer? I look for a spark. I look for individuality. Guts. They must have a necessity to dance. They must want to be noticed and make me want to look at them, and not the other people around them. I look for spunk in dancers because the dancers who do my work have to have it.