In The Studio: Danielle Agami On The Fears of Performing Her First Solo
Los Angeles-based choreographer Danielle Agami is taking on a new role in New York City: performer. While her company Ate9 is on a "vacation," she is in residency at The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University.
We sat down with Agami to discuss creating her first solo titled framed, which she will perform May 6 at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and why she is excited to get back to her company.
What has it been like choreographing on yourself?
At the beginning it was very boring. I felt absolutely uninspired, not important and it didn't make sense. I think that's why I never made a solo. Then when I closed the camera and closed the mirror, I started really feeling the textures and feeling the history and found this joy. Now I am more at peace with performing again.
However, while being here and having so much privacy, time and space, I've realized that I love having a dance company. We need to find Ate9 and myself standing apart, but parallel and very, very close.
What are you hoping to share with the audience during this solo?
I think it's almost like having a dinner party. You want to be the host, but it's such a fragile responsibility. I think that I usually am the host to my dancers and that's why, when I choreograph, I think of what is interesting to them. This time I need to think a little bit more directly about what is interesting to me and what that dialogue will be like with the audience.
Are you fearful of that responsibility as an artist?
I am. I think I have to grow with it. Sometimes there will be dead moments or abstract messages that you won't understand, but maybe this way you can break free from expectations and habits.
More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:
"Is your daughter the dancer?"
"Actually," I say, "I am."
"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"
"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."
Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.
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