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Artistic Director David Hochoy and retiring dancer Caitlin Negron talk about Dance Kaleidoscope's 40th Season-ending Program

by Rita Kohn
May 22, 2018
Indiana Repertory Theatre
140 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 635-5252
Exclusive to ExploreDance.com
from Rita Kohn, member of Dance Critics Association, Dramatists Guild, Authors Guild
Indianapolis-based Dance Kaleidoscope celebrates its 40th professional company season with a re-creation of Aaron Copland’s and Martha Graham’s iconic Appalachian Spring with sets and costumes from the Graham Company.

“The DK dancers have had the great fortune of learning Appalachian Spring from two former Martha Graham Dance Company members who learned the piece directly from Graham herself,” said DK spokesperson Paul Hansen in a news release.

Guest Regisseur Miki Orihara became one of the original members of the Martha Graham Ensemble in 1983, and soon thereafter joined the Martha Graham Company, rising to principal dancer. Her biography informs she was one of the last students coached by Graham herself.

“First thing for me is the choreography,” said Orihara in a DK promotion brochure, adding, “It is important for future generations of dancers since it is our script. Then from choreography, to draw your own interpretation as an artist.”

DK dancer Caitlin Negron is portraying The Bride, which Graham choreographed for herself when the work premiered on October 30, 1944, at The Library of Congress. Of working with Orihara, Negron observed, “The detail she [Orihara] insisted on drew out the character and refined each piece of each movement.”

David Hochoy, DK Artistic Director since 1991, coached alongside Orihara. Hochoy joined the Graham Company in 1980, became a soloist in 1982 and was named Rehearsal Director in 1986. In the same DK promotion mailer, Hochoy recalled, “I rehearsed the piece many times and was thrilled when I had to help Mikhail Baryshnikov learn and perform the role of The Husbandman in 1987.”

From DK: “With its open-frontier images of a pioneer family at a roof-raising, Appalachian Spring as a dance work is "a celebration of the recurrence of the seasons," Miss Graham said. "It's spring. There is a house that has not been completed. The bar poles are up. The fence has not been completed. Only a marriage has been celebrated. It is essentially the coming of new life. It has to do with growing things. Spring is the loveliest and the saddest time of the year."

Q & A with DK's David Hochoy

ExploreDance.com:
What makes this May 31-June 3, 2018 Appalachian Spring program so special for Dance Kaleidoscope?

David Hochoy: It is considered to be a "masterpiece" and one of Martha Graham's greatest works. It is a thrill that our dancers are able to perform this choreography on stage with the original sets and costumes that were designed for the piece.

We previously did two Graham works: Diversion of Angels in 2006 and Acts of Light in 2007. What was always a challenge was the cost of renting and transporting the set, which has to come from the Graham Company in New York. What made it possible [for Appalachian Spring] was that James Johnson, then CEO of the Omaha Symphony invited us to come and dance it there in front of their orchestra. So costs were shared. That made it possible.

[DK performed in Omaha in January 2018. In one of those twists of fate, in May, James Johnson left Omaha to serve as the newly appointed CEO of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra]

ExploreDance.com: Across your 27-year tenure as DK Artistic Director, Martha Graham has been the lodestar. Martha has been 'in the room' all that time. What makes her presence now so significant in the history of DK as Indiana's premier professional contemporary dance company?

David Hochoy: I actually think that her artistic concepts of "coming from the inside-out" and "always seeking the truth" have held us in good stead. As the company changes and evolves, and as audiences and tastes inevitably do as well, I would like to think that what she stands for insists that we always maintain a high level of artistic excellence and integrity. It's a great contribution.

ExploreDance.com: What are "the simple gifts" inherent within Appalachian Spring for DK's loyal audience base? What about this work will bring new people to fill seats at the IRT One America Stage?

David Hochoy: Appalachian Spring taps into something that is distinctly "American" in spirit and feeling. The combination of music, characters, dance all add up to inform us what it means to belong to this magnificent country of ours, and to feel a pride in that. In these days of political strife, that is something that is invaluable. Where else would we get it?

ExploreDance.com: Appalachian Spring marks the retirement from DK for Caitlin Negron. What strengths did Caitlin bring? What legacy does she now leave? How will her presence continue.

David Hochoy: When she joined the company Caitlin was the best trained starting dancers we have ever had, since she was trained in both ballet and Graham Technique. I've always appreciated the clarity and purity of her movement quality, and her unassailable beauty.

ExploreDance.com: During the May 9, 2018 Conversation revealing the working relationship between Martha Graham and Aaron Copland, you talked about the DK company having a richness of strong male dancers to complement the always richness of strong female dancers.

David Hochoy: I think we inspire each other to be the best. Martha always loved to have strong men in her company so that she could pit herself against them, and they wouldn't fall down. In a way she saw all relationships the way the Greeks did, with Agon - competition!

We have two casts of the Revivalist [segment]. They are Brandon Comer and Stuart Coleman. Both interpretations of the role are valid, and both work within the context of the piece. That is the magic of an iconic role that leaves room for individual interpretation.

I'm very grateful at this point in my life and artistic directorship to be able to share my insights with younger dancers. The passing on of artistic thoughts and "knowledge" is what it's all about. We must do it if we are to survive as a species.

Q & A with DK's Caitlin Negron

ExploreDance.com:
In how many productions have you danced?

Caitlin Negron: This is my tenth season with Dance Kaleidoscope and I'll be retiring after Appalachian Spring. We do an average of four main stage shows each season plus varying work in the summer. So that lands me in the 40-50 production range. I've danced in over 60 individual pieces at DK.

ExploreDance.com: Looking forward, what now is your career thrust?

Caitlin Negron: After I retire this June, I'll continue teaching pilates and at summer dance intensives. Most of my time will shift to working at Indy Convergence the no-profit my husband Robert and I started together. We have a space of our own now in Indy's Near West and are deeply engaged in running professional artist residencies and collaborating with our neighborhood in community outreach endeavors. Indy Convergence also collaborates with a community center and art center in Jacmel, Haiti, and with artists in London, Ontario.
[More at: http://www.indyconvergence.org/ ]

ExploreDance.com: How is the role of The Bride, representing 'a new life’, interfacing with your own looking forward into a new life?

Caitlin Negron: I wrote something earlier this year for Paul [Hansen] about one of my favorite moments in the ballet. The Bride stands on the steps of her new home and after dancing full tilt for what feels like a long stretch she stands still to take everything in. It's a beautiful moment and I imagine her pausing before she steps into what is the first day of the rest of her new life, with her new partner, in their new home. That's much how I feel right now approaching these last performances with DK. I have a general idea of what comes next but there is the same excitement and fear that comes with turning a new page. The Monday after my last shows will be the first day of the rest of my life, it's a bit dramatic, but I guess that's why I was drawn to performing ;)

ExploreDance.com: Looking over the decade with DK, what Works in particular and what about DK as a company have resonated with your world view, given you inspiration and courage to found "The Indy Convergence?"

Caitlin Negron: There are moments in so many pieces that we do at DK that have affected me in small ways. More than any one particular piece I think the biggest way DK has influenced me out in the world is how much David asks of us every single day in the studio. I could fill this article with poignant and hilarious quotes of his from class and rehearsal, but he always demands hard work, attention to detail, and constant questioning and discovery in the movement.

ExploreDance.com: You joined DK about the same time as did Timothy June and Zach Young. A year ago, when DK presented the adventurous program, "Dance is a Contact Sport," I remember watching the three of you, and thinking—is there really something special about the way these three relate to each other? Is there something special about being part of "a class" within the DK company?
[Zach Young retired at the close of the 2016-2017 DK season]

Caitlin Negron: Tim and Zach joined right before my third season with DK. Soon after they joined I moved to Chicago for a little over a year to freelance (I also spent a year and a half in LA in 2011/12). So we sort of "caught" up to one another in our seasons. I think that the people you dance with early in your career are always special in the same way childhood friends are so important. You're experiencing the thrill of a new career and new work together so it creates a natural bond. You also end up partnering a lot with the people who join the company at roughly the same time. I've loved dancing with Zach and Tim and feel very lucky to have shared so many moments with them both on stage.

ExploreDance.com: October 2014, when Libby Harris retired from her dancing roles in DK, you and Mariel Greenlee [now portraying The Pioneer Woman in Appalachian Spring] spoke about how Libby inspired, and would be continuing to inspire in her new role as rehearsal director. What now do you envision is your continuing impact upon DK, and upon dance in Indianapolis?

Caitlin Negron: One of the reasons Dance Kaleidoscope is such a great company to work with is because every person on the stage matters at every moment. I see myself as part of the continuum of bold, strong dancers that have all left their marks on stage and in the choreography. It's so fun to learn a new piece and within a few steps realize, "oh, this must have been Roberta's [Roberta Wong] role originally", or "I bet they worked on this in Oregon, [as resident company of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival]; it has that feel to it." There is memory that lives in each work, and I hope I've left a little bit of myself in it. I also hope that my dancing has honored the dancers whose roles I've been lucky to take on, and that the dancers that follow me will feel the importance, uniqueness, and thrill of what we created together in the studio and on stage.

I also hope that dancers around the city can utilize Indy Convergence's residency programs and space to explore and continue their own work. I'd love to continue to take artists to Haiti to collaborate with our partners there and eventually share performances in both countries.

ExploreDance.com: What else should the general public know about Caitlin Negron—dancer/ world citizen? The impact of awards from Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indiana Arts Commission?

Caitlin Negron: I'm excited for my next chapter and hoping I'll find a little more time to go camping. Dance Kaleidoscope has been my artistic home since I first joined the company in 2006. The breadth of work we get to do and the support the company provides for us is incredible. This city has also given me so much. The support for artists from the Arts Council in astounding. Friends from other cities literally dropped their jaws when they heard about the Creative Renewal Fellowship. I firmly believe that there are few other places where I could dance full time and pursue my path with Indy Convergence. This is a special place with lots of growing and re-imagining on the horizon, but I feel like it's heading in a great direction and I am ready to be a part of it all.

This May 31-June 3 program also includes two pieces by guest choreographers: former DK dancer Andre Megerdichian's "Sing, Sing, Sing," set to Benny Goodman's joyous, toe-tapping music and "Taking Watch," a piece created for DK by Chicago-based choreographer Stephanie Martinez.

From a DK on-line post: “DK's Artistic Director David Hochoy danced for Martha Graham and knew her well. During our upcoming performances of Appalachian Spring, he will tell funny, insightful and moving moments from his time with Martha and about the piece Appalachian Spring - 30 minutes before curtain Friday - Sunday, at intermission on Thursday.

Dance Kaleidoscope presents Appalachian Spring and other works as part of its 40th Season-ending program May 31-June 3 on the OneAmerica Stage at The Indiana Repertory Theatre, 140 W. Washington St., downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.

Tickets at http://tickets.irtlive.com/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=3202
More at: www.DanceKal.org or 317-635-5252.

For more see also:

https://www.dancekal.org/learn-engage/company/artistic-staff/121-david-hochoy

https://www.nuvo.net/arts/theater_dance/a-signature-year-of-dance-in-indianapolis/article_298198e2-f618-11e7-a37d-9328138551bd.html
Dance Kaleidoscope's Caitlin Negron as The Bride in 'Appalachian Spring.'

Dance Kaleidoscope's Caitlin Negron as The Bride in "Appalachian Spring."

Photo © & courtesy of Drew Endicott


Dance Kaleidoscope's Mariel Greenlee as The Pioneering Woman in 'Appalachian Spring.'

Dance Kaleidoscope's Mariel Greenlee as The Pioneering Woman in "Appalachian Spring."

Photo © & courtesy of Drew Endicott


Dance Kaleidoscope's Brandon Comer as The Revivalist in 'Appalachian Spring.'

Dance Kaleidoscope's Brandon Comer as The Revivalist in "Appalachian Spring."

Photo © & courtesy of Drew Endicott


Dance Kaleidoscope's Timothy June as The Husbandman in 'Appalachian Spring.'

Dance Kaleidoscope's Timothy June as The Husbandman in "Appalachian Spring."

Photo © & courtesy of Drew Endicott


Dance Kaleidoscope's Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee and Stuart Coleman in Stephanie Martinez's 'Taking Watch'.

Dance Kaleidoscope's Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee and Stuart Coleman in Stephanie Martinez's "Taking Watch".

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


Dance Kaleidoscope's Timothy June as The Husbandman and Caitlin Negron as The Bride in 'Appalachian Spring.'

Dance Kaleidoscope's Timothy June as The Husbandman and Caitlin Negron as The Bride in "Appalachian Spring."

Photo © & courtesy of Drew Endicott


Caitlin Negron rehearses the role of The Bride in 'Appalachian Spring.'

Caitlin Negron rehearses the role of The Bride in "Appalachian Spring."

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Williams

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