Attention Dance History Nerds: This Dancer Makes Stunning Mobiles Based on Labanotation Scores
I've been a fan of Jordan Isadore's for about a decade. His gorgeous, spine-contorting renditions of Christopher Williams' repertory are legendary, and for many years I had the privilege of making dances with him and producing his works through DanceNOW[NYC].
Over the last year or so, as he began winding down his performance career, Isadore began making odd, phenomenal objects: dribs of Labanotation scores rendered as hung mobiles, gorgeously crafted in stained glass and metal. The designs are stunning, imbued simultaneously with a hipster-nonsense contemporaneousness and reverence for dance history.
I spoke with Isadore about his retirement from the stage, and transition to crafting full time.
Retire? But why?!
I've been thinking of retiring for a while. I kept getting work and opportunities that I "couldn't" pass up, even though I haven't ultimately been fulfilled by performing, touring or any of the other things that come with being a freelance dancer.
In a way, the choice was made for me when it became clear that my grandparents needed some extra support, and I was the just the person to offer it. I now live in my hometown of Grass Valley, California, and take care of my grandparents full time. I have a small work table in their garage to work on my mobiles.
How did you get into making mobiles?
My best friend was pregnant and I proposed making one as a baby shower gift. I have a crafty mother with experience in stained glass (not to mention all the tools to go along with it) and she gave me a tutorial on cutting, foiling and soldering. I've learned a lot through trial and error. I started using magnets to attach pieces to the base for easy assembly and disassembly, and copper tubes to add stability and capacity for movement.
These things are gorgeous, and *super* nerdy. Can you tell me about your use of Labanotation in your designs?
I was first introduced to Labanotation in college, and thought it was a beautiful art form all its own. When thinking about my dance career—and how to transition from performing—I looked at my Pinterest boards and saw all these geometric shapes showing up in home decor and design. I thought Labanotation resonated with the trends. I love that Labanotation is a hieroglyphic that stands for a three dimensional movement, and I wanted to find ways take dance recorded using Labanotation and return it to its kinetic origin through stained glass and mixed metals. The mobile's own movements generates glimmers of the original notation, while creating new dances with each rotation.
What does the next year or two look like for you?
Ideally, I'll transition from Brooklyn hipster into a mountain man that only wears denim, has french braids and makes his own cheese. I'll continue creating mobiles, but start moving into larger works, taking full sections (if not entire pieces) of choreography and recreate them as 20 foot-long mobiles.
Where can folks follow you and learn more about your work?
To find out more about the mobiles and see pictures of finished pieces, people can visit my website, jordanisadore.com. To see how the mobiles are made, some lip sync videos, as well as millennial self portraits, people can visit my instagram, @jordanisadore.
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.