Dancing with Angels

On February 14, the Phillips and CityDance present a Valentine’s Day Dance Experience (UPDATE: this program is sold out). Three choreographers–Lorraine Spiegler, artistic director of CityDance School and Conservatory, Christopher K. Morgan, artistic director of CityDance’s resident company Christopher K. Morgan and Artists, and Robert J. Priore, CityDance Conservatory choreographer-in-residence–will respond with short vignettes to the themes in Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet on view at the Phillips through May 12.

In this series of guest posts, the three choreographers talk about the artwork that inspired their movement. Today, Lorraine Spiegler discusses Alfonso Ossorio’s The Helpful Angels (1950).

Alfonso Ossorio, The Helpful Angels, 1950. Watercolor, ink, wax, and graphite on torn paper, 22 1/2 x 30 1/2 in. Courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York

Alfonso Ossorio, The Helpful Angels, 1950. Watercolor, ink, wax, and graphite on torn paper, 22 1/2 x 30 1/2 in. Courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York

Angels aren’t this otherworldly ethereal thing to me; they are people that you meet. They come in and give you hope, inspiration, and sometimes lead you to a resolution. If you look at the painting closely, you might be able to make out a woman, you might even be able see wings. You can’t make out an angel, but like I said angels aren’t overt. I also responded to the bright white colors streaking across the warm colored canvas, representative–perhaps–of a powerful energy shooting towards us. There’s connectivity in this image, and there’s a connectivity that we all share. At some point, any one of us could be an angel to another. As a reflection of this possibility, Mariana (the dancer performing this piece) moves in graceful, gracious, and unexpected ways.

—Lorraine Spiegler, artistic director of CityDance School and Conservatory

Art Washes Over You

(Left) Félix Vallotton, On the Beach, 1899. Oil on board, 16 1/2 x 18 7/8 in. Private collection, Switzerland. (Right) Dancer Meghan Pilling in rehearsal for Snapshot Confidential. Photo: Amy Wike

When the possibility of creating a work inspired by Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard arose several months ago, I was immediately struck by the notion of how a new technology (the camera) could reshape the vision of an artist. To me, this parallels the evolution we are currently experiencing in the performing arts world, as technological developments reshape how artists create, and subsequently how audiences consume, live performance.  When I had the pleasure of seeing the Snapshot exhibition several months later, the rich pool of imagery in it overwhelmed me. I found a strong sense of intimacy, an almost voyeuristic feeling that the photographs I was looking at were not intended for public viewing. Snapshot Confidential is the direct result of how that imagery washed over me and left impressions in my mind, which then led to the generation of movement. I was also very motivated by a statement I read, detailing how the advent of the camera pushed artists to reevaluate the lighting, framing, and perspective of their artwork. I felt compelled to explore this imagery, intimacy, framing of perspective, and lighting through dance. I invite you to join us on March 15 at 6:30 pm, and let these dances wash over you as the paintings and photographs of the exhibition washed over me.

Christopher K. Morgan, choreographer and artist-in-residence at CityDance

CityDance Rehearsal with Christopher K. Morgan

Get a sneak peek at Snapshot Confidential: Dancers and Photography with these photos from the rehearsal. Choreographer and artist-in-residence at CityDance Christopher K. Morgan provides insight on the dancers, lighting, and props in the captions below. See Snapshot Confidential this Thursday, March 15 at 6:30 pm. 

Artistic Director Christopher K. Morgan works with dancer Meghan Pilling in rehearsal for Snapshot Confidential in the auditorium at the Phillips Collection.

Dancers Junichi Fukuda, Tiffanie "Fi" Carson, and Shannon Braine, in rehearsal of the opening section of Snapshot Confidential.

(Left) Dancer Tiffanie "Fi" Carson works with light and photographs for a section of Snapshot Confidential. Inspired by how the painters featured in the exhibit began to experiment with framing and lighting their subjects in photographs, Morgan's dance will explore the use of light and shadow. (Right) Dancer Meghan Pilling in rehearsal for Snapshot Confidential. The visual imagery in the exhibit inspired the use of props for the dances.

Dancers Junichi Fukuda, Meghan Pilling, Tiffanie "Fi" Carson, and Shannon Braine, in rehearsal for Snapshot Confidential.