words by Jill Randall | Images by Jim Lafferty
When I first saw Thryn Saxon perform in October 2017 in San Francisco in Kate Weare Company’s Marksman, I was struck by her embodiment of power, clarity, elegance, and commitment. One year later, I had the chance to chat with Saxon about current training practices, projects, and more. Even over the phone, I could sense her engagement, curiosity, and warmth.
On training and movement practices
August 2018 marked my 4-year anniversary of living and working in New York City, and I saw it as the right moment to embark on a Pilates training program. This work has become an integral part of how I care for myself mentally and physically. With some of the extreme nature of things I do and am interested in, I need to take care of myself and be specific with my training.
I am a studiohead and love being in technique classes. Recently, I’ve taken class from Jenna Riegel, Christina Robinson, Julia Ehrstrand, and Hollis Bartlett.
On current projects and choreography
Like many contemporary artists, I am performing with several companies, including Kate Weare Company, Julia Ehrstrand, and Ellen Sickenberger’s Depth Dance, and am also finding time for my own choreography and projects.
I choreographed BAB/E, a duet that I am currently performing with Emily Tellier, as my response to the current political arena. Choreographically, I play with the idea of impact literally and metaphorically in the work: physical impact, sensation, and bodies against bodies. This is part of my research for the five-woman piece I will be choreographing this winter. After a 3-part audition series, I was selected as an emerging choreographer for the Mare Nostrum Elements: Emerging Choreographer Series. I have five artists working with me on this new project, to be performed in late February.
Emily is an incredible friend and collaborator, and now I have to work on translating the same effect and power to five bodies. My partnering and choreography has also been touched in an extraordinary way over the past few years through my work with Kate Weare.
On her first dance film
I just created my first screendance project, entitled All of Her. Mary Schindler and I perform an intimate duet that is captured from many angles with the lens: floorwork from above, close ups of intertwined body parts, and dancing against a wall. We support one another, push and pull, and come together for fleeting moments of unison and connection.
I gained several valuable and humbling lessons throughout the film project. I realized that I cannot expect everyone to love the choreography as much as I do, and I became more careful about sharing the work. The whole process was a big maturing process. Working alongside a photographer and cinematographer made me think about repetition and the number of shots necessary to take, again and again, to get that perfect clip.
The film will be screened at six festivals this year, including: LA Dance Shorts Film Festival, MarDel Dance Presents Dance on Film Festival, ARTS TRIANGLE Film Festival, CREATE: Art, SPARK Summer Film Festival, and Triskelion Dance Film Festival.
On teaching artistry (the interplay between choreographing, performing, and being a teacher)
My sensibility of myself as a teacher has changed, as I understand myself more as a creator and dancer.
Risa Steinberg is a master teaching artist, who also recently coached us in Kate Weare’s rehearsals. Steinberg talks about bringing the line between performance and class closer and closer together. I crave the same thing from my students – not so much about being “on,” but connectivity to the now and what they are feeling and sensing. I aspire for this concept to become the nucleus of my classes, to draw people into the studio to explore phrase work with me.
On a performance that still lingers
I would say the last Hofesh Shechter work at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2017, Grand Finale. Shechter created a masterful cinematic effect with the lighting, sound, and timing, as well as the very inventive movement. The piece touched upon my love of movies and the effect/quality/feeling that an edited film can provide. I am a huge fan of Shecter’s work, and he brilliantly pinpointed the audience’s eye in Grand Finale.
On the idea of wellness
The practice of enjoying has been my focus of late. “Are you enjoying things, or are they just happening to you?”
I feel like I am now doing what I want and what I believe in, and I’m slowly letting go of ideas from my past that people said I should be focusing upon as a professional dancer. Wellness includes the sloughing off of these ideas and coming into my own as a performer, choreographer, film maker, and teaching artist.