Images by Jim Lafferty | Words by Candice Thompson
Vinson Fraley moves in a manner that is simultaneously super technical and completely free. Exuding a spectacular sense of articulation in his body and a commanding presence, it is no wonder he has found himself working with so many celebrated choreographers, from Bill T. Jones to Kyle Abraham to Rashaun Mitchell, since graduating from Tisch School of the Arts. After seeing these images from a photo shoot with Jim Lafferty and learning he hails from my new hometown of Atlanta, I had to catch up with this mover, singer, creator.
On His Current Projects
It has been a little over one year since I joined Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. We start a new creation in May, and that is really something I’m looking forward to. At the moment, I’m very intrigued by the freelancing world and in the process of working on quite a few other projects. Since college I’ve worked primarily with the structure of a company. Lately, I’ve been a part of many outside projects and find them to be extremely fulfilling. I most recently spent two weeks in London to begin the process of creating sound design, on top of which I will sing. I hope to create an album that is specifically tailored to a full-length live show with strong emphasis on movement forms. I am also working on vocals to be featured on Berlin-based Modeselektor’s upcoming album. When I return to New York I will work on choreographing and dancing in a video for a brilliant friend and artist, Serpentwithfeet.
On Working With An Icon
A game changer…absolutely. Working with Bill has been overwhelmingly satisfying and enlightening. I arrived in the company at a moment that was extremely demanding. I learned five evening length works in a span of six months. That was a bit stressful, but I never felt the full weight of it because I was so eager to work with the company. Even more, I was intrigued with the responsibility of learning the style of the movement language, doing text, and singing. I’d been feeling like I wanted to do work that was multi-dimensional and layered. Dancing with Bill feels like the perfect place to grapple with identifying why I perform, while at the same time being creatively charged.
On Developing An Articulate Movement Style
My connection to what happens sonically, and how I relate to my environment, are things that I’ve always connected deeply with, and I believe they are the main reasons I started to dance. I initially fell in love with dance simply because I was intrigued with watching it. Perhaps I gained a sense of articulation simply from watching so closely. I think it’s all a matter of how you use your perspective to place a sensation in the body. Clarity and freedom are two qualities that strongly influence my movement choices and aesthetic. A great deal of being able to embody this started from my work with Kyle Abraham. His movement is extremely stylized, yet pedestrian, and at the root, physically demanding; hence it forced me to really focus my efforts on detail and nuance. That’s the juice and heart of any work I seek to do and create now—the tiny pieces that bring the picture to life. Dancing with Bill has widened my lens even further. I’ve started to see movement from a more cinematic scope, and that has really allowed me to sharpen how I fulfill my desires in creation and performance.
On His Hometown
I miss Atlanta more and more every year that I’m away. It took me some time to really appreciate how special of a place it is. Now I can’t seem to separate my identity from it. When I initially left to study in New York City, I couldn’t imagine moving back to Atlanta. But the city is progressing rapidly and establishing a more solidified art scene.
I find it really exciting that so much original work is being developed in my city. I’ve only watched a few episodes of the show Atlanta but it is a perfect example of how much creative energy is flowing in the city. Donald Glover also went to my high school which I find pretty cool. [laughter]
I initially fell in love with dance simply because I was intrigued with watching it. Perhaps I gained a sense of articulation simply from watching so closely. I think it’s all a matter of how you use your perspective to place a sensation in the body.