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The Artist’s Journey – Without Walls (WoW) Festival Series: Alicia Peterson Baskel of PAUSE (for world creation) - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

The Artist’s Journey – Without Walls (WoW) Festival Series: Alicia Peterson Baskel of PAUSE (for world creation)

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The four-day explosion of theatre and art that is the Without Walls (WoW) Festival is only a couple of days away and opening on Thursday, October 3! What will YOU be seeing?

Maybe you’ve bought tickets to or are considering Wallpaper Performance Company’s PAUSE (for world creation), a generative dance theatre experience that brings live sound artists, lighting designers, dancers, and audiences together on a real-time journey into our collective imagination. By weaving an actual conversation between performers and audience throughout, PAUSE (for world creation) offers access to the inner workings of the performers’ minds and reveals the mostly absurd and often wonderful imagery that is continuously emerging live on stage.

In this new entry for The Artist’s Journey – WoW Festival Series, Wallpaper Performance Company’s Artistic Director Alicia Peterson Baskel, shares some thoughts about her creative process for the piece.

For Pause (for world creation) tickets and info, click here.

of Pause (for world creation) at Without Walls (WoW) Festival

If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about dance, you will notice how much I love to talk about process – my process, his process, the creative process that made this dance versus that dance – you name it.  The magic of the creative process thrills me.  But the problem is that most of the time the process of art making remains behind the scenes.  Audiences are only privy to the final product and aren’t often exposed to the exciting and sometimes grueling process of trusting and making the work.

Well, why not?

I was discussing this quandary with a colleague of mine when it hit me.  What if I could make a dance piece that could simultaneously reveal the creative process live on stage AND take the audiences on an intimate journey?

With that question, the challenge of PAUSE (for world creation) was born.  It wasn’t easy, but I realized quickly that in order for this to happen, I’d need to literally use our process as the structure of the piece.  We rely on improvisation (or what I like to call Intuitive Choice Making) as a catalyst for the work, but we don’t simply move in abstraction.  The performers are given the assignment to notice what stories/imagery/memories are coming up for them in present time and – rather than ignore these thoughts – to follow them “down the rabbit hole!”  It makes for wonderful explorations!  We then use creative writing to record the choreography and then share/teach it to each other.  The intention is that when you watch it, a whole new world is created, one that doesn’t need to make sense in any realistic way.

We performed an early version of PAUSE (for world creation) in May of 2012 at Space 4 Art downtown.  People loved both watching the generative moment happen right before their eyes, but they also got excited about hearing what was going on in the artists heads.  It’s usually WAY more ridiculous or utterly personal than you might expect and my hope is that this offers the audience the opportunity to go there too, for themselves.

We’ve been evolving this piece for the last two months with a new cast and I’m so excited about the shape it has taken in this new WoW Festival version.  Having the time to enter into this piece for the second time has reminded me of what I know to be true and try practice in my dancing (and life): BE HERE NOW.  What made the piece successful in 2012 may not be the same thing that makes it successful today.  We all change from year to year, day to day, second to second.  That’s what I love about this immediate work. We are building this dance with our audience in front of our audience in THIS moment. It RELIES on the present moment.  It doesn’t ignore history, but rather uses history as it supports the present moment, reminding us (reminding me) never to become stagnant.

Wallpaper Performance Company is a San Diego-based dance theatre company under the artistic direction of Alicia Peterson Baskel. The company’s mission is to create performance that leaves the audience and performers feeling more connected with themselves, to their immediate surroundings, and to the possibilities that exist in their imagination. Baskel’s choreographic work has been presented locally by Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and UC San Diego.

A morning rehearsal of PAUSE (for world creation), noticing what's underneath the movement. Photo courtesy of Alicia Peterson Baskel.