To finish my fly-on-the-wall reporting on Adam Barruch’s pre-residency visit to Santa Barbara, Barruch and his longtime partner Chelsea Bonosky gave a performance of their duet Belladonna, based on a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, for an audience of about 90 DANCEworks donors on Sunday, April 19th.
The format of the performance was reversed from Belladonna‘s New York presentation in February as part of the “Stripped/Dress” series at the 92 Street Y. At that performance, Barruch discussed his ideas behind the dance before changing to perform it. In Santa Barbara, Barruch and Bonosky danced and then came back onstage (Bonosky covering herself in a wrap before retrieving her shirt, since much of Belladonna is performed topless) to discuss their creative process on Belladonna, as well as plans for the version of Sweeney Todd Barruch will choreograph in September, with a very engaged audience.
Perhaps most interesting in Barruch and Bonosky’s commentary on Belladonna was the long germination process of the duet–more than two years. Barruch also spoke of their method for generating material: creating dance phrases in response to certain words front the Hawthorne story, like a finger-circling-the-head gesture for “knowledge,” or a hands-fluttering gesture for “butterfly” that Barruch then uses as the work’s building blocks, liberating the phrases from literal meanings.
A member of the audience asked what dance techniques or modalities Barruch and Bonosky use to prepare for the performance; Barruch discussed how the loose, slinking quality of his work requires moving from the joints, rather than efforting the movements with the muscles, and how warming up lying on the floor is best to achieve this effect.
In the portion of the conversation about Barruch’s plans for Sweeney Todd, Barruch revealed that in addition to employing Santa Barbara locals as music director/pianist and in the singing role of the Beggar Woman, he will incorporate community participants into some scenes in other ways. Barruch and Bonosky will be back in residence at the Lobero Theater August 31 through September 26, 2015, bringing with them a full ensemble of handpicked performers–Barruch’s first time assembling a company for extended work. DANCEworks hopes supporters will come out for the Friday Club–weekly work-in-progress performances and informal receptions held every Friday of Barruch’s stay–and for the unveiling of his physical theater interpretation of Sweeney Todd, September 25th and 26th.