They were apprehensive at first but with a child-like desire for whimsical play. And who would blame them.
It was the first time in an arduous schedule of rehearsals when FrenetiCore Dance Theater dancers had the opportunity to interact with the main element in the company's upcoming summer show, an element that they hadn't yet tried to incorporate into their practice — water.
As imagined by founding artistic director Rebecca French, Quench, which runs from Friday through Aug. 30, draws its movement vocabulary from water, literally and metaphorically, in an effort to explore its importance as a source of life, symbology, myths, representations, expressions and the consequences of not taking care of this essential resource.
"Quench is cleansing, a rebirth, a beautiful moment that we can all share together," French tells CultureMap in a video interview. "It's all about producing something that will leave every person who saw it changed, and every person who did it on stage also changed for the better."
"It's all about producing something that will leave every person who saw it changed, and every person who did it on stage also changed for the better."
Water sporadically spurts from perforated pipes that extend the length of the Frenetic Theater stage, making the rubbery floor a giant slip-and-slide in which some of the dance numbers unfold. Water is contained in two kiddie pools that render a mischievous ambiance that recalls the innocence of children at play. At times, the absence of water posits a message of caution.
The evening-length work doesn't dwell on the scarcity that results in yearning, a pain that thirsts to be assuaged. Quench, French explains, is about not even knowing that something was missing. She brings into focus the euphoric culmination that comes from satiating this discovery through a seamless flow of choreographed numbers, film and storytelling.
"The personality of Quench is one of exuberance, celebration and happiness," company member Adam Castaneda says. He sees Quench as capturing the ethereal quality of water in a beautiful milieu that incites audiences to muse on their own connections to the compound.
While French found inspiration for this summer show in the cooling effects of water, the execution of these ideas was drawn from a collective think tank composed of members of the dance company.
"The dancers are all artists — and that's not something every choreographer has the gift of working with," she says. "I've tried to create a space in which dancers can create on their own."
French describes FrenetiCore Dance Theater members as savvy, smart, creative and interesting. They are aware of what feels and looks good in their bodies. She teaches her colleagues a phrase and allows them to develop her aesthetic into something richer and more meaningful, in essence, welcoming them into the process of creation.
"What ends up coming out of that is way better than my voice on its own," French adds. "It's a beautiful chorus of voices, ideas and expressions."
"For all of us who explore the arts as a passion, hobby or career, art is what we need to live."
Dancer Taylor Martin draws a strong parallel between the vital role that water plays in sustaining ecosystems and the critical role that creative endeavors play in the lives of artists.
"At the root of Quench is this idea that water is something that we need for life, from basic organisms to having sustainable societies and communities," Martin explains. "For all of us who explore the arts as a passion, hobby or career, art is what we need to live. Art is how we survive, and each of us have our own story to tell."
This collaborative approach has been a key component in how FrenetiCore Dance Theater has blossomed into a company that balances relevant and sincere art making with accessible entertainment.
"My goal is to bring people in and transform communities through dance," French says. "I want this show, and all shows, to be fun, enjoyable and entertaining while at the same time being thought provoking, cutting edge and pushing boundaries all the time to leave people moved and changed.
"That what art has always done for me, and that's what I want to do for others."
FrenetiCore Dance Theater presents Quench, with dance film and costumes by Ashley Horn, live musical accompaniment by Spike the Percussionist and lighting design by Frank Vela, from Friday through Aug. 30 at Frenetic Theater. Tickets start at $16 and can be purchased online or at the door.