I have known Audrey for years now, and never have I ever seen her lose her composure or perspective. A life in the arts is chalk full of frustrations, disappointments, and annoyances. And yet... Audrey has always been an individual capable of taking a breath, looking at a situation from every angle imaginable, and taking a next step forward rather than stewing in the present or past. Audrey's ability to detach, analyze and press on is admirable. What is even more admirable is her ability to do this while still remaining fully human. She is unique, intelligent, incredibly funny, and remarkably intuitive. I am so grateful to know her, and I am thrilled that you'll have the pleasure of knowing her now, too.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CREATING WORK, AND IN WHAT CONTEXT?
I began making work in my undergrad program at Connecticut College in 2009/2010. The first piece I made was a collaboration with Katie McGrail, (who I am very lucky to still dance and collaborate with today). We wore unitards.
I continued to make work during my time at Conn and have continued to develop work through programs such as the New Works Mentorship program at Green Street Studios, The Dance Complex's aMaSSiT program, DanceNow Boston, and ...that's what she said, among others.
WHAT TENDS TO BE YOUR INSPIRATION OR CATALYST FOR CREATION?
A lot of my inspiration has come from conversations with friends about things I think would be interesting or questions I'm pondering (typically in a car or sitting at a kitchen table) and has evolved from there. Often, I start from wanting to accomplish a seemingly simple task. Some of these tasks have appeared in my recent pieces: peel and eat oranges, fold as many paper airplanes as you can in two minutes, or hold a ten-pound bucket straight out from your body longer than anyone else on stage.
I create these scenarios in my mind to expand upon, and I genuinely believe art is a reflection of our lives and can change the world and all that, but on a very basic level I want to make sure it's pleasurable as well. For me (selfishly) and also for the audience. As I make work, I find I'm often trying to entertain myself. Not necessarily in a "funny" way, but entertain in terms of keeping it interesting, engaging, and challenging.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE BOSTON DANCE COMMUNITY?
I've been living and dancing in Boston since the fall of 2012.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR COMMUNITY? WHAT MAKES A COMMUNITY STRONG?
I'm not sure I think anyone belongs to one single community, or that a community is made up of one "type" of person. I think as humans we all belong to a number of different communities. Any group of people who we share something in common with could be defined as a community, with there being a range of the nature of connections among the individuals.
I would consider my community to be made up of: artists, teachers, administrators, dancers, experiential educators, climbers, choreographers, paddlers, readers, and so many other things. I think that the different communities we create for ourselves feed different parts of us. As someone creating performative work, I find that having a variety of perspectives, interests (and probably when I get right down to it having lots of different things and people to "pull" ideas from) within my communities helps my choreographic process.
YOU HAVE SAID THAT YOU THINK EVERY DANCE IS ABOUT LOVE. HOW DOES THIS TRANSLATE TO YOUR WORK? WHAT CONCEPTS ARE YOU TACKLING IN YOUR WORK THIS SEASON?
I think more so than love, the major overarching theme I have been thinking about as I have created new work over the last few years is the fluidity of emotions. Particularly, I have thought a lot about the place where something shifts from incredibly sad to incredibly humorous and vice versa. To me, this shift can also be directly related to relationships and love (of all kinds).
I am trying to explore the place where humor and tragedy intersect, and to allow the work to exist in that place of overlap. I spend a lot of time toying with how to display this blending of two seemingly opposite emotions on stage without forcing or faking it. These dichotomies and the overlap can be found so often in our "regular", day-to-day lives, and I want to exhibit that on stage.
Questions I am constantly curious about are: What is the moment where something incredibly sad becomes funny? Why do we laugh when we are uncomfortable? How can one person find something hilarious and another find it heart breaking? How can a work that that feels incredibly sad as a performer become funny to a viewer? How can we display the shift from tragedy to humor in an honest way?
THIS IS YOUR SECOND SEASON PARTICIPATING AS A CHOREOGRAPHER IN TWSS. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO RETURN FOR A SECOND SEASON? HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGES OR AREAS OF GROWTH FOR THE PROJECT SINCE THE FIRST SEASON?
Having the opportunity to develop a new set of ideas over a long period of time, and then to show that work over a number of performances, is such a rare opportunity. Getting to do it with support from a wide range of other artists, is amazing. In the first round of TWSS, getting to know the other choreographers and sharing feedback throughout the process was by far thee highlight, and getting to be part of feedback sessions again this round is just as meaningful.
During the first round of TWSS, "Lady BOS Productions" didn't yet exist (or was just in its early stages) and to see how the range of events and offerings (performances, open mics, workshops, oh my!) has expanded so greatly has been really exciting.
WHAT HAS BEEN MOST GRATIFYING ABOUT THIS SEASON OF TWSS?
Having the time to really dive into something and getting to present it more than once in a performance setting is huge! I like to keep the performers on their toes so I'm excited to make little changes (and maybe include some surprises) before each performance to keep things really honest and fresh.
WHAT OTHER OPPORTUNITIES HAVE YOU BEEN GRANTED OR HAVE YOU BEEN EXPLORING LATELY IN BOSTON DANCE?
Recently, I have shown work in a number of "Tiny & Short" performances throughout New England, as an artist produced by Lady BOS Productions, through The New Works program at Green Street Studios, with The Dance Complex's aMaSSiT program, and as part of DanceNow Boston.
WHERE CAN WE LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WORK? WHAT COMES AFTER TWSS?
Up next I'll be showing work in a performance curated by Jimena Bermejo at The Midway on April 18th. I'm also performing this spring at Judson Church in a new work by NYC choreographer Grant Jacoby.
My (currently under construction) website is: audreymacleandance.com.
WHAT SUPPORT DO YOU NEED MOST IN ORDER TO CONTINUE TO GROW AS AN ARTIST AND A MAKER?
There are obvious things that seemingly most artists could use in terms of support: exposure, space (a hot commodity right now in Boston), time, money (everyone, always). I think having the resources to compensate collaborators/dancers for their time and role is a big one for all choreographers, but I also believe that exposure is the point from which all those other areas of support can build from.
WRITTEN BY KRISTIN WAGNER
Published March 5, 2020
This blog contains contributions from several women with who we are grateful to work. Head over to our TEAM page to learn more about who we are; scan our archives to learn more about what we think.
Top Cover Photo: "shell" by I.J. Chan, Image by Haley Abram Photography