Recently, I joined Darion Smith, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Janusphere Dance Company to work on an ongoing 3D photo project. I have worked with Darion on images for marketing his dance company and have had the pleasure of shooting Janusphere Dance performances and I am eager to share more about Janusphere Dance Company and the artist who directs it.
Like our interview with Iquail Shaheed, Director of Dance Iquail, here is some insight into a thriving New York City dance company under the direction of a vibrant young dancer and choreographer.
Darion, can you give us a little 101 on your company, what you are about and your “mission,” so to speak?
In short we are all about innovating movement and choreographic structure while exploring fresh ideas in dance. Ultimately we are finding new ways to reach our audience and give them a unique perspective from dance that reflects our history in addition to the ever changing world we are living in.
Recently, I have initiated one of our goals, which is education, by offering professional and non professional dancers the opportunity to join myself and the company free of charge at our Sunday Improv and Structure Sessions. This is a movement and choreographic “workshop” for Janusphere Dance Company open to the public. We have just finished a two month trial run of these explorations and it was very helpful and revealing not only to my own process but also to those who participated. I am developing a new revised version of this for September when we start up again with Sunday Improv and Structure Sessions.
What is your inspiration for much of your work?
The inspiration for my work comes from many different sources from the amazing teachers and institutions where I was educated and from the companies, directors and choreographers I have been fortunate to have worked worked with. A lot of my ideas for the choreographic works I choose to create come from life experiences and themes or stories that I identify with.
How do you choose the dancers and collaborators you work with? What do you look for in an artist?
Artistry and Passion are two of the most important ingredients for the dancers and collaborators I seek out when I have a vision and project I am working on. I think there is more than enough technique out there but fewer artists who have more to offer the work than just their technical ability.
When you are thinking about how to market your company, why are visuals so important? How do photos connect to your overall marketing strategy?
In today’s world of media overload, image is so important and especially in dance because we are live performers and how can we capture and convey to people that what they are going to see is worth their time and money?
Also there is so much diversity in dance companies and choreographers’ work that we may all want to distinguish ourselves and our work. I know I do.
We are working together on a 3D project. How does a medium like 3D fit with dance and with your company in particular?
Having the opportunity to shoot in 3D adds another element that fits our ever growing technical capacities. We can get closer to whoever is watching by giving as realistic an image as possible and new perspectives that could not have been reached previously.
What do you have coming up in Summer and Fall 2012?
Currently I am working on Heart on a Dirty Platform set to premiere in August at IATI Theater’s PAM 2012, a three week long festival in theater and dance. The piece has many elements to it including video and text as well as a set design and brand new sound and music from Jonathan Melville Pratt. I am very excited about this piece.
For the Fall I am working on two pieces as well as adding the work of a new guest choreographer to our repertoire. I will let you know about that soon.
More from Darion Smith…
Rachel did not ask me this question, but I would like to add for all to know, more about how important it has been for Janusphere Dance Company to work with such a skilled and innovative photographer as Rachel Neville.
When I look at the images that Rachel Neville has shot from our performances where the dancers are not posing but in motion to the images she show in studio or site specific photo shoots I am often in wonderment and compelled to meet the high standards of her work.
Rachel can always capture peak moments of the movement and emotion of a dancer or dancers with incredible clarity and power which would otherwise be lost. For that I am eternally grateful.
Dancers in Photos: Luke Manley, Misei Daimaru, Darion Smith