Working as the assistant director, choreographer, dialect coach AND playing Mrs. Jennings in the production of Sense and Sensibility under the direction of Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte was one of the most brilliant artistic projects I have been part of. It was such an exciting opportunity to collaborate with the undergraduate student body at SCAD. My goal was to challenge their physicality while celebrating their individuality, which takes a brave group of artists to achieve. And brave they were, indeed.
I have never worked directly with a composer prior to this project, and if you ask yourself which comes first, the choreography or the music…for me it HAS to be the music. I never realized how influenced and inspired I am by sound, but the soundscape or score allows me to craft movement in a much more specific way. The movement can compliment the swell at the peak of the track, or the percussiveness of the movement can create a beautiful dissonance with the music. Lorna Ryan, our composer, was patient with me while I navigated how to explain to her what I envisioned for the ball and for the storm and for the opening of the show. Stephanie Colavito, a very talented musician, actor, and dancer, helped translate my actor-driven musical notes into a theory that Lorna took at ran with. Proof that all good things come from collaboration!
Andrew’s vision for this production was essentially Jane Austen meets RuPaul. My goal was to capture the specificity of British sensibilities (pun intended) with the raw abandon of Drag and the precision of Voguing. Working with the student actors directly, and asking them to do research and bring in their own movement scores that captured their character(s) was a great way to celebrate their individuality. From there we sculpted the scores into a tangible composition that celebrated the ensemble. It was a beautiful collaboration, and I am so grateful to have been part of it.