The following interview is part of a larger publication of collected interviews among Center for Performance Research’s New Voices in Live Performance artists: Sidra Bell, Antonio Ramos, Elisabeth Motley, and Alexis Zacarello. The publication edited by Elisabeth Motley and J. Haggis provides a platform for shared dialogue and conversation for both the participating artists and public.
Alexis responds to Antonio via email: Hiiiiiii Antonioioioio! You‘re alive! I love you!! Ok, I’m gonna plop my responses below and send to Elisabeth. Do we need to talk about the gallery at all, or are we good? Big xX
AR: How did you come to be a dancer?
AZ: I was 2 and my older cousins were taking dance lessons. I would sit at the studio window and beg my aunt to join. She told me when I could tie my shoes and pee in the potty I could take class. So… I started the next open cycle when I was 3. I mean after that I tried to quit several times during adolescence and early adulthood – it was pretty miserable. I found myself returning to the studio for class… For study of motion and motion itself.
AR: Which came first the chicken or the egg? Visual artist or dancer?
AZ: I’m sure I was scribbling before I was 3… But then again what do you really do in baby ballet and tap classes? It’s kind of glorified babysitting. I think my interest in the visual arts started to emerge around the time my deeper interest in dance came. You know- there is the copying or doing of dance, and then there is the interest in the canon (with that interest usually coming latter).
AR: I always wanted to be a visual artist because dance is so abstract and is never the same with performance. Do you have the same feeling?
AZ: I think dance can be both abstract and very realist, direct, and also literal. Dance is unique in that every time we perform a work we are making it. And it’s a new performance/work every single freaking time. Though occasionally frustrating (and highly expensive), it’s actually super interesting to me. There’s an inherent depth then to this type of art. It’s always being made right in front of you and with you (the viewer.) And you’re either viewing it as a limitation or an asset but in dance bodies are materials… and with those bodies come those people and their worlds. That is a shit ton to work with (and that’s partly what I’m referring to when I’m saying depth…)
AR: Can you talk about glitter? Props? What’s the importance of props in your work?
AZ: Well, I think what you’re thinking of is the pounds and pounds of silver and gold Christmas tinsel. I would actually really love for all of the tinsel to be glitter but 99
percent of performance and rehearsal spaces would absolutely not let me entirely cover the floor in glitter. I get it- people have spaces that they need/ want to take care of. But it’s shitty- a true limitation. Recently I have been limiting my usage of props- to narrow my focus to the crafting within the human body. But to speak to those props: The tinsel, which I’ll use just a little bit of in this performance, was originally used to completely cover the stage space in CURRENT WORK. That came about because I was using clay to completely cover the dancer’s arms – streaming down. It was like a highlighter or a spotlight. We saw every motion, breath, mistake – We also heard it too. I was interested in internal movement and micro movement – especially within the context of larger set motions. The tinsel was very unforgiving in that way, which I was really into because all of those necessary motions became critical to that section of the work. It was the work. And the tape… It was a cheap and easy way to help break the proscenium. I hate the proscenium stage. It’s so dated and frontal. It’s a limitation I’m very uninterested in working with. It also creates a hard line between spectator and performer that I’m uninterested in. So I would use the tape to create shapes to dance within and outside of… Allowing all of the “onstage” and “offstage” to be present.
AR: As a younger artist how do you feel about your work?
AZ: Oh, generally shitty. I mean that’s not totally true. The shittiness comes from always wishing I had more time to dive into these studies. I spend so much time deep and there most certainly isn’t anything that supports my level of interest at my stage in the game. It’s all about show me your hot 30 seconds. Some people are interested in 15 minutes of dance- it’s a good amount for them. For me it’s not so interesting. I am wanting to develop these studies and I’m not sure how much can truly be developed and transmitted in 15 minutes. I’m interested in the study and development… and part of that for me is asking an audience to sit and be with the work… just that alone takes longer than 15, 20, 25 minutes