Ensayo. Translated literally from Spanish, it means to test or rehearse.
But for a dancer, its connotation dips deep into the psychological well of the creative process, where comfort and safety push actively against a wall of unnerving ideas-anticipating, quite literally, for something to give. Add to that the intimacy of shared meals and living quarters, and the dancers might be forgiven for describing their days and nights as one relentless ensayo sweeping over a looming four-week deadline. “The beach?” muses Nayhara Zeugtrager. “We know it’s out there somewhere.”
It’s week three of Kate Weare Company’s residency and collaboration with Union Tanguera, and the ensayo process is starting to extract a remarkable complexity in each of the developing pieces, trading in easy archetypes for a refreshing perspective on relationship dynamics. “There’s definitely more trust in the air,” agrees Weare, “giving us enormous freedom to explore where we land in the spectrum of gender.” The subject of male/female intentions has been a lively topic among the artists and Friday Club audiences, a dialogue that began organically over drinks at The Pickle Room on day one, and that will undoubtedly continue long after curtain call and the companies’ final farewells.
“In this art form, to describe the roles of men and women as leaders and followers is to oversimplify a nuanced relationship,” says Esteban Moreno, who is tasked with the formidable role of representing tango in a contemporary light while grounding itself virtuously to its cultural roots. The concept of “corruption” is thrown around rehearsal as a tongue-in-cheek reminder that the residency’s collaborative undertaking is shaking up the status quo, and none of the artists seem too unnerved about the prospect. “As a contemporary dancer, I’m used to being physically engaged, and tango is just forcing me to approach my strength from a different angle,” says Nicole Diaz. Thryn Saxon agrees, before adding “it’s also fun just to pick up Dani and toss him around, too,” referring to her male dance partner Daniel Escobar.
Using movement as a decisive tool for the much broader conversation about power and society, Weare sums up the week with one final thought: “These two genres hold enormous potential for both growth and conflict; I’m straight up impressed that we’ve all managed to bend without breaking.”