Attention Dance History Nerds: This Dancer Makes Stunning Mobiles Based on Labanotation Scores
Jordan Isadore with one of his mobiles. Photo via Instagram
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.
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.
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.
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.