Double Exposure is the eighth ballet choreographed by Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The movement vocabulary in Double Exposure is unique and inventive. Combined with the electronic dimensions onstage and the dazzling Ailey dancers, Ms. Jamison has achieved a new level of choreographic prowess.
Ms. Jamison discussed the concept of Double Exposure:
"Robbi (Ruggieri) came to me with this idea. He said Double Exposure was a very interesting title for something he was working on musically. I related to it immediately. I responded to Robbi by saying that I had been interested in choreographing a male pas de deux. I was also captivated by the concept of showing two sides of one person. We are all multi-layered and multi-leveled human beings. This was a way to show two aspects of one person. The women got into the story as catalysts because in my ballets I always have some strong, powerful female figures. In that sense they broke down as three elements of one woman. Everybody thinks that the three women are me but it really is just three different ways of moving me. They are like the Greek chorus in ancient theater because they are aware of the fact that the two men are really one personality. It also has to do with the idea of the masculine-feminine qualities that each one of us encompasses."
"I wanted to create a 'dancey' ballet. I'm influenced by Martha Graham and material moving around, elegance and color. If you have dancers like Matthew Rushing and Glenn Sims, they give you an extra stretch of the movement that has been given to them initially in the choreographic process. And I always say when I'm working on a new ballet that the dancers' mistakes are sometimes my steps. For instance, they will fall out of something that I have given them to do and it becomes an organic transition into something else. It all boils down to a matter of trust and my belief in what their bodies are naturally doing. In one segment of Double Exposure, I tripped doing a step. I turned around and the dancers picked up the trip and all of a sudden it became part of the movement. I love working that way because that is the way Alvin used to work with me. I adore exploring and trusting those dancers to extend themselves that way in the process of making a dance."
"I wasn't exactly trying to reach another level of movement. This is what came out of me in the creative process. I did know that I wanted to appreciate each woman's idiosyncracies and I love to work the men in tandem. John Butler used to make me crazy watching what he would do with his dancers in tandem." Ms. Jamison found it especially interesting to pair dancers of different sizes and explore the implications of that in partnering work. "The cantilever transitions were fascinating to work with choreographically. That is what pas de deux is all about: struggle, balance, off-balance, tension."
"My second cast of men, Jeffrey Gerodias and Clifton Brown, are beautiful too. It is a different feeling with them, a younger version of maturity or an aching youthfulness. There is more of an innocence to their performance, whereas Matthew and Glenn have a weight to theirs. And the way they are affected by the women has another feel to it altogether. When Matthew and Glenn touch the women, it is like shock waves are coming off the women. There is a cognizance by the men that these women are there to help them get to the next level they need to reach. In the second cast, the women are almost not real, they are like spirits."
"I choreographed the dance first and then layered it with the technological mechanics later. Technology was new to me and I had seen Mark Coniglio's performance downtown. His ability to marry what was happening on stage with the cameras and film was absolutely fascinating. I'm just at the tip of the iceberg now and I'm starting to find out about these mechanics. When he said that I could have a camera in the hand of a dancer and it wouldn't be any bigger than a battery pack, I was thrilled and he engineered that for me."
"For me, what is happening on stage is real. I need the audience to know that we didn't film this ahead of time. It's spontaneous. It is a whole different perspective of looking at movement and dance together with film. I am excited to see how Double Exposure looks and feels on different stages. Every time the dancers perform the piece it goes into another dimension. It evolves and creates its own territory. The dancers create their own space and are challenged by making things move or get out of their way so that they can reach the next plateau. It is certainly an intimate and generous experience simultaneously, which is hard to attain. But that is what Alvin Ailey was all about: the ability to see things from a different point of view. He encouraged us to make room for the possibilities in order to take us on another journey. It's an additional kind of exposure!"