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Dancers in Paradise: A Dialogue

Dancers in Paradise: A Dialogue

: Photo by Malia Jensen.

Fresh from their Rauschenberg Residency, alums Kate Wallich and Lavinia Vago talk about their experience, their collaboration and their upcoming work at Velocity, Super Eagle.

In January 2013, Kate Wallich (DA ’10) and Lavinia Vago (DA ’10), dance alumnae and co-founders of the multidisciplinary dance/performance company, The YC, were invited to participate in The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s inaugural launch of the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida.  Kate and Lavinia were two of forty-five artists invited to partake in the pilot program for the residency.  Mirroring Rauschenberg’s lifelong collaborative career, the residency facilitates experimentation, collaboration and innovation at the location of the former home and studio of the seminal modern artist on the island.  Kate and Lavinia developed their first evening-length work there, Super Eagle, which was originally commissioned for Cornish’s SMOOSH.  Velocity Dance Center is now collaborating with Kate, commissioning and producing the Super Eagle for their Made in Seattle program in February 2014.

KW: So Vago, what was your first reaction when I told you that we were going to a month-long residency on an island in the Gulf of Mexico?

LV: A mixture of shock, surprise, excitement, satisfaction and happiness. Since I moved to NYC in the summer of 2011, my involvement with your work had shifted a lot.  We went from being in the studio everyday, creating physically together to having a more intellectual and conceptual involvement through phone calls, Skype meetings and dialogue.  Now, we have been in a place of being in the studio for a short period of time here and there, mainly prior to performances. So, the idea of going back to having ample time in the studio together to play, dance, choreograph, develop and explore together was quite exciting.

The residency allowed us and forced us to be together 24 hours a day, creating an intense environment to enjoy each other, annoy each other, get mad at each other, and get sick of each other all while digging into the work and creating and shaping the seeds for our next creation.

LV: Wallich, what do you think we accomplished during this residency?

KW: The Rauschenberg Residency really gave us time to play and take risks, while also giving us the time to just stare at the wall (and jump in the ocean) to think, and we began shaping the seeds for our next creation, the evening length Super Eagle.  We spent a lot of time further developing imagery from this, while generating new material as well.  By the end of the residency, we had created at least an hour+ worth of material, structures and images. 

LV:  And we got to work in Rauschenberg’s studio!

KW: Yes! Being in Bob’s old studio and around his collaborative spirit instantly instilled new sparks for our work.  We were around all of this inspiration, plus the palm trees, water, nature and sun.  It was a little bit overwhelming actually, we were just SO inspired, but naturally some stunning collaborations happened between all the artists present.  In the studio, we spent a lot of time reconnecting with each other physically.  We became very detailed with our movement, making sure that we knew exactly where movement impulses were coming from in order to find this harmonic place between the two of us as dancers.  In the end, I think we found out that what makes us strong as collaborators is the fact that we are so different. Overall, this was a huge breakthrough for us as makers.  As a choreographer and director, I came to the realization that no one is ever going to look identical to me, so I need to create specifically for the dancers.  You helped me realize this, and I think this was one of the biggest successes of the entire residency.  So, I started to do just that and we entered a whole new realm together. Gorgeous work emerged from it.

LV: Haven’t you forgotten something?

KW: Oh, yes, and we decided to be fashion models for a few days and had an obscene amount of YC photo shoots with two of the other residents.  We have press photos to last us years now ;)

KW: How would you describe our relationship, Vago?

LV: Our working relationship could be compared to a couple of soul-mate lovers of opposite zodiac signs. We are drawn to work together, but our personalities and needs often lead us to confront each other, making the work deeper and richer at every confrontation.  Our tastes on fashion, music, physicality, movement, pop and street culture are so opposite but so similar at the same time. We influence each other with our stubborn personalities and that creates the best ground to develop the work.  Sometimes I feel like I can be compared to a little devil/angel figure for you. I question your choices, ask questions, doubt you, help you understand why you are doing something, why you should and shouldn’t make a choice. But I also support your work and your career and help you arrive to the final work: conceptually first, then structurally, then physically last.

KW: Yeah, the way we work is intense, we question and push each other hard.  This is basically what we did for the month at the residency.  Thankfully, there was a hot tub to soak in at night ;)

LV: Wallich, where do you see the YC going? What are the company’s next steps? What are the plans for the future?

KW:  Along with making our first evening length, we are going to Montreal in June, making another film with Jacob Rosen, dancing for the Men’s Chorus in Abba!  Oh, and we will be dancing in a music video for Kairos.  Basically, we just keep going.  We are starting to take the steps to become legit.  The YC will stay in Seattle, we love Seattle.  Plus, it gives you a break from New York and Montreal.  Its like your little vacation home.  And I love going to New York, so I think we have a good trade off.

KW: Right now, we are interested in making work that is glittery and shiny; it’s youthful and euphoric, but also dense and sad at times. There is a sense of iconography in our work, its a bit fantastical at times. The films we make with Jacob Rosen evoke these ideas and the sound design that Lena Simon (MU ’11) creates with us also represents these themes. The YC is our commentary on youth, fashion, swag, our personal lives, you as the audience, etc.

KW: So tell us Vago, what is the essence of the YC?

LV: “You always try to get things to come out perfectly in art because it’s real hard in life”—Woody Allen.

LV: What do the YC’s dreams look like?

KW: Hearts, stars, bunnies, neon colors, pop songs, rainbows and drones.

The YC


YC Raw from Kate Wallich + The YC on Vimeo.

Kate Wallich is a choreographer and dance artist based in Seattle, Washington and director of The YC.  Kate received her training from Interlochen Arts Academy and holds a BFA Magna Cum Laude from Cornish College of the Arts.  She has danced and been mentored by artists Tonya Locker, Zoe Scofield (zoe|juniper) and Danielle Agami (Ate9).  Kate has received creative residencies with The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva, Flordia and with Velocity Dance Center in Seattle, WA.

Lavinia Vago is a dance artist from Italy. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Cornish College of the Arts. She had the honor of working with great artists such as Tonya Lockyer, KT Niehoff, and Zoe Scofield.  Lavinia performed with Sidra Bell Dance New York, and toured internationally with Korhan Basaran and Artists. She is currently working with Rubberbandance in Montréal, and Loni Landon Projects in NYC. Lavinia is co-director of and dancer with The YC.

IMAGE: Kate and Lavinia poolside at the Rauschenberg estate on Captiva; photo by Malia Jensen.


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