In Conversation with Katie Dean and Heather Bregman
Choreographer/dancer Katie Dean and sculpture artist Heather Bregman are performance artists in cross-seas collaboration — Dean currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, and Bregman, who is first mate on a ship, docks in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
For their latest work, HERE I AM AGAIN ALONE AGAIN, premiering at Triskelion Arts February 20-22, they have been working remotely, using the tools of video, Skype, intensive one-week rehearsal periods, and an extensive shared Google document.
Brooklyn-based dancer Tara Sheena interviewed the two artists from Dean’s Bushwick apartment with Bregman on Skype. They spoke about working remotely, the importance of place, being alone, and their concurrent transitions from, as they put it, youth to “non-youth.”
Excerpts of their conversation are below.
Interview date: Jan. 7, 2014
Tara Sheena: It seems very difficult to carry out this rehearsal process in the way you’ve both chosen to carry it out, which is remotely. I am just wondering why, and if it’s just the practicality of ‘we work together and we live in separate geographical places,’ that’s fine. What was in it for both of you for consenting to conduct this process this way?
Katie Dean: Initially, it was practicality. I knew the next piece I made, I wanted to make with Heather. We are both not living in the same city. I feel like it’s lent so much to my practice of working and even existing in the city to have someone I am connecting with on a really deep level who lives hundreds of miles away from me and not even on the same island — we are both on islands just not the same one.
Heather Bregman: I think the technicalities of making a piece from a distance has made the times that I came to New York really valuable, and every minute we had together in the studio has been a crucial moment. We had to really focus in.
TS: I am wondering if you actively thought of this as a duet in any point of this process? When I view the piece, I am likening to the fact that I can view it as two solos and it’s the same person talking the entire time. It seems interesting to intentionally approach something between two people that would normally be considered a duet, especially when two bodies are onstage, as something so separate. I view you as the same person.
KD: I think one of the things in our improvisations that was coming up a lot was we weren’t really making eye contact. I felt very connected even without a peripheral vision [toward Heather]. I felt really connected to what Heather was doing. I think that’s a good way of thinking about that.
HB: I think the relationship we have with the movement is coming from a similar place. I think it also lends itself to the concept that we are dealing with, which is this idea of universality and conflict with our age and people our age.
It’s where we are in life and what we’re thinking.
TS: Was the piece originally meant to be called Infinity? It seems to be a lot in the notes and listed as an original title. Or, if it wasn’t the original title, how did you end up with HERE I AM AGAIN ALONE AGAIN? I know some of the writing referenced that, but I am not sure what came first.
HB: Well, HERE I AM AGAIN ALONE AGAIN was a part of the monologue I wrote for another performance. What it came to was the person I was working with: he started the monologue, “Here I am alone again.” But, he kept saying it in rehearsals like, “Here I am again, alone again.” It was more to the point than we had originally been talking about.
I don’t think we ever decided it was the title. We just started calling it that and it became the title. It was our attempt to say the feeling we were having.
KD: I also really like that it has a through line and a life of its own amongst friends of ours or inside other pieces. It’s existed inside other works. I like that a lot.
HB: We need to make a hashtag out of it or something.
TS: The difference between “youth” and “non-youth” is characterized in a lot of the writing about the piece. I thought that was interesting because you’re either one or the other — but you’re not! Or, at least, you aren’t in this work.
KD: I think that has a place in the work that we’re making. We’re both in this transition period, and it feels very much like we’re on the edge of something and about to transition into a new phase of life. Not even in any concrete way…but part of that is this exorcism. It feels a bit like an exorcism.
HB: I think that’s all of what we’ve been dealing with. It’s been great to figure out what that even means. You don’t have to be one or the other. But, sometimes, it feels like you run the cost of determining what part is important [to you].
TS: I thought the terminology of it was interesting. Putting them in such opposition — youth or non — I think is an interesting way to phrase it.
For more information, visit TriskelionArts.org.