Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Meet a Dancer: Katie McGrail

In preparation for Luminarium's 2016 feature production PORTAL: Stories from the Edge, Luminarium's Publicity Intern, Lillian Gaylord, has interviewed each of the performers to better introduce them to you—our followers. Enjoy getting to know Katie McGrail, then come see her perform at the show: November 11 & 12 at the Boston University Dance Theater. Grab your tickets here!

Katie McGrail

Company Member since 2012

LG: You are in at least four out of the five pieces being performed in Portal, do you have a favorite piece, or one that challenges you the most as a dancer?

KM: Each of the pieces are so different. I feel like with each one I tap into different aspects of myself, so rather than being challenged by one particular piece, I think the challenge in performing all of these works in one show is that of embodying such different things one after the other. But that is what makes the process both fun and interesting. I can feel myself holding and using my body in very different ways in each piece. With rabbit hole cycles, which I’ve been lucky to have had a long process with, I feel the sound score intensely in my body. It feels otherworldly and urgent. That is juxtaposed with the Wayside Inn piece, which is an embodied history. This piece also feels otherworldly, but in a much more ethereal way, in which I feel a sense of floating through time and space. And THEN, there is the TEDxCambridge piece, which feels energetic and upbeat and is physically and mentally challenging due to it’s specificity. I also feel intensity in this piece, but in a much more playful way than rabbit hole. The other two pieces are still so new in my body, I’m still working on finding this kind of clarity in them. :)

Katie performing in The Hostess Diaries, also referred to as the Wayside Inn piece.
Photo: Karen Irwin Photography.

LG: How does your work with Luminarium tie into your Sociology-based Human Relations degree or your certificate in Community Action & Public Policy? If it doesn’t, in what other ways have you integrated those degrees with your work as a dancer/choreographer?

KM: Sociology is the study of human society. By choosing a more interdisciplinary route of study with Soc-based Human Relations, I learned to take a sociological lens and got to integrate some work in psychology, education, and human development. What could be more related to the creative, choreographic process?! To me, dance and choreography is often a way to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. I definitely feel this sensibility in both Kim and Merli’s creative processes. My background in Soc-based Human Relations informs how I understand myself and my world, and is therefore inherently present in how I understand and embody each of these works. I often find working with Luminarium feeds my curiosity about such things similarly to the way the study of those fields does.

You also asked about the Community Action & Public Policy piece of my degree. On a somewhat different note than the performative focus, I have always appreciated the community orientation of Luminarium’s work. I love the work Kim and Merli both do to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between communities, community art, and high quality performance work. I find that the opportunities to work with Luminarium in community projects, showing work at festivals and historical sites, teaching and putting on workshops for children and communities to engage actively with dance, feeds this part of what I think is powerful and important about dance.

Katie, performing in the original version of rabbit hole cycles, 2015. Photo: Ryan Carollo.

LG: Both “rabbit hole cycles” and the TEDxCambridge piece have been performed before, but “rabbit hole cycles” has been reworked for this performance. Does this make the piece feel entirely new compared to the TEDxCambridge piece, or do you feel because they are both being performed in a new space for a new audience that they are each new in their own ways?

KM: I think they will each feel new in their own ways. rabbit hole cycles has been reworked for this show, but we have been in process with it for so long that in many ways I feel more at home in this piece. TEDx is familiar in that it is the same version we performed at the Boston Opera House, and I’m so looking forward to showing it again! But yet it still feels new, especially since TEDx was a one-night performance. The space will certainly influence the feel of each of these pieces as well, which will bring another element of newness to each. And as always with live performance, each experience is unique to the particular moment it exists in. I really think everything that’s going on in and around the theatre—from the audience to the weather to whatever may be happening in the larger world—affects the feel of a performance!

NOVEMBER 11 & 12 . 8PM
Boston University Dance Theater
Boston MA

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