Saliq Francis Savage, for Wire Monkey Dance
The name "Wire Monkey Dance" came during the rehearsal process for our first full season performance.
I'd been recalling the research of Harry Harlow and his daughter on the effects of early tactile deprivation on rhesus monkeys.
They were working at a time when people were taught to not breast feed and when bottle feeding was regimented by the clock.
They devised a test to determine whether a baby monkey's attachment to its mother is primarily due to the fact that she is feeding the infant, or if it has to do with the love, comfort, body contact and that sort of yummy stuff.
The experiment had two attached cages with a surrogate mother fashioned out of wire in each one.
The difference between the two wire surrogates was that one had a bottle, while the other one was just covered in fur.
The baby was free to travel freely between the two cages with the proposition where would the baby monkey spend most of its time.
Of course, it spent most of its time on the wire monkey that was covered in fur, and only enough time to feed on the other one.
So, the company name is a tribute to those baby monkeys that gave their lives to prove that love and nurturing are valuable. I guess you could say that I'm something of a clinger. Give me a warm bosom any day and I'll be happy.
That's why I find things like contact improvisation next to essential. There is an autistic woman who could not stand physical contact but at the same time she craved compression. She devised a special human compression machine. I'm like her, except I love physical intimacy.
There is something like pure animal joy that I experience when I'm dancing with another person; it completely fulfills me. It is in the breathing, yearning, shape shifting, meeting and seducing that my organs can really come alive and begin to express the joy and pleasure in living.
I look for the edge between my body and my partner's body. And then I soften that edge to ground and integrate my body through my partner's body. Then the distinction between grounding and flight becomes a continuum.
I'm looking for a vehicle of creativity and expressivity for my life. Dance provides me with a reason to move.
WHAT WE DO
Wire Monkey Dance creates highly physical dance installations that transform towers of steel scaffolding into multimedia dance events. We address timeless human themes such as the struggle for power, tenderness and longing. The company creates a unique genre of movement on scaffolding, blending contact improvisation, body-mind centering, modern dance and arial dance techniques.
FULL-CIRCLE: ART IN NATURE IN ART...
Depending on the type of work created, we work from two weeks to four months on a single piece.
My inspiration to create often comes from nature. We just completed a performance project in the country side of Germany, at the Ponderosa land dance festival in Stolzenhagen Germany.
A small group of us (there were 13 dancers involved) took walks at sunrise as a way to fine-tune our senses.
We spent time climbing big trees listing to the swaying of the limbs into the trunk, the simultaneous clockwise and counter clockwise spirals supporting our weight.
Then we would go back to sleep before yoga and the second starting of the day. That morning ritual created a profound groundedness that helped us to tap into the history of the place and helped make a better site specific performance.
In Stolzenhagen, we created a site-specific piece called "Höhensammler, Height Collectors." In that piece, we performed on and around the grounds of a huge
pre-German-unification farm complex.
We touched many local townspeople with the beauty and simplicity of our dancing in the context of their village; they remembered the paths and woods that surround them daily, but they might not have walked on them for years and years.
This was an important step in bringing the Ponderosa dance festival artists into a synergistic relationship with the local culture; there were many who'd even been married in that farm house.
I created "Blue Hour" in consideration of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. It's about oppression, dreams of reconciliation and suicide bombers.
Pretty heavy stuff, a bit repetitive, but that's just my learning curve as a choreographer. The piece is a fairly naïve treatment of the conflict.
I used projected images taken in the west bank and Gaza by Spee Baum that described the condition of life for the Palestinian people.
The dance describes the lives of three fictional men who live and work together, one an Israeli boss/and the other two Palestinian workers.
I get it [creative block] all the time. I go on these creative jags where I go off and everything seems like the right thing and the ideas come fast and furious.
And then Jen will start to question me about it all and I'll simply go blank. It's as if my ideas are faded away or no longer carry the playful significance that they did while I was flying and thinking them up.
If I could live anywhere in the world: I'd probably go to Brazil, study voice with Madalena Bernardes in Sao Paulo, to Belo Horizonte to learn to speak Portuguese, teach contact improvisation and body-mind centering and go to the beach.
Coming up: performances of "As if Life" at Tree Studio in September, then we travel to Macao, China to perform and participate in a couple of festivals.
[Shown/header image: Saliq Francis Savage, co-founder, Wire Monkey Dance]
About this group: Wire Monkey Dance performances are produced by Saliq Francis Savage; choreographed and directed by Saliq Francis Savage and Jennifer Polins.
Their work has been presented in gallery spaces, proscenium theaters, under trees, in large outdoor squares, parades and has toured to New York, Boston, Berlin and Taiwan.
Artist bios: After a Marquette University education in mathematics and the basic sciences, Savage studied the homeopathy of body-work; he is a registered movement therapist through ISMETA, and maintains a private practice in movement and body-work. He has traveled through North America, Asia, Europe and South America to teach and perform. He produces and is the general artistic director of Wire Monkey Dance.
Jennifer Polins joined the Joffrey II Dancers at the age of 17, and later danced with the Milwaukee Ballet and the Zurich Operahouse Ballet. While in Zurich, she was a founding member of modern dance company "POOL." Her work has been shown in Switzerland, France, Germany, Poland, Taiwan and New York. Polins is also involved in teaching, in addition to choreographing and performing. She co-founded improvisational group "Weeds" and the "Crank it Out" performance series.
Visit WMD's official site here.
Upcoming tour schedule:
* Sept 17-19, 24-26 and Oct 1-3, 2004, Tree Studio, 108 Cabot St. Holyoke MA
Get info: (800) 224-6432
* Oct 20-25, WACFEST and Macao Fringe Festival, Macao China
Read in-depth interviews with other creative artists, in the August 2004 issue of "Arte Six".