Jane Weiner can describe Village of Waltz in three words: Community. Magic. Ensemble.
Making Nancy Wozny’s Top 10 of the decade, Village of Waltz has also been described as Weiner’s “most realized and polished work thus far.” It has quickly become a signature piece for her performance troupe, Hope Stone Dance Company, and tonight, almost one year to the day after its premiere in 2009, Hope Stone will waltz back onto the Cullen stage at Wortham Center to perform Village again. (There will also be a Saturday night performance.)
The work is non-linear and joyful, like the circular triple-time of a waltz. Weiner says, “everybody is accepted at a gut level” in the idyllic world she and her collaborators bring to life through Village of Waltz. Weiner took time to talk about the performance piece, providing answers to our questions, in sets of three, of course.
CultureMap: Have a quick gush over each of these three elements in Village of Waltz — Music?
Jane Weiner: Gush, gush, gush. All live. A pit full of the most amazing musicians: Peter Jones, his incredible creations and his cohorts Terrence Karn and Chris Howard. I also have live violin with Noel Martin. I am addicted to live music. It is so present, so alive. The dancers and musicians fold into the show together.
JW: I am the president of the Ana Trevino-Godfrey [of Mercury Baroque] fan club. She walks into the room and it gets sunnier. Randy Lacy will be singing as well and 14-year-old Julian Goodwin-Ferris is doing a rendition of [Bob] Dylan.
CW: Lighting design?
JW: Roma Flowers. First of all, the coolest name. Second, the coolest designer. I worked and roomed with her for many years in New York City when we worked with Doug Elkins. She sees color, shadow, line, and shape with a different set of eyes than the rest of us, knowing how to enhance and create texture and ambiance. Roma understands my work and so much of her lighting additions are not even discussed between the two of us.
CM: Name three things that have changed for this 2010 performance.
JW: Well, the cast has changed with four new members. I am a year older. Sounds profound, huh? But a year provides that much more experience, knowledge, view changes, and perspective on the piece. Also, the economic picture. It is a tough year, so every ticket, every person coming out and supporting live dance theatre, counts.
CM: Tracing back to the conception and gestation of Village of Waltz. What were your inspirations for the work?
JW: The movie Antonia’s Line. Peter Jones. My grandmother and her lessons of unconditional love. A challenge to myself: to create a seamless dream dance that I could walk away from and say "yes."
CM: That’s four, but who’s counting. Talk about three personally favorite moments in the show.
JW: Oh wow, I have so many moments where the performers just eat up the stage and pour out their hearts and souls. It’s so amazing to watch the care the artists take with my work.
I love when [dancer] JoDee Engle finishes" the waltz section," a section in the middle of the dance composed by Peter Jones. On her final step, the violin from Noel Martin strikes into Bach. The juxtaposition of these two beautiful pieces of music is something I look forward to each run.
In the final piece there is a duet between Lindsey McGill and JoDee that I just love. I can't wait for the two to attack the stage.
The musicians. Watching them watch the dancers.
CM: Give me three reasons you’ll be reserving and providing hundreds of free tickets to Houston youth.
JW: I went to France several times. I would go to packed performances and there were kids of all ages. I thought, wow, they start early. They get them in the theater at a young age and make it part of their life. They don't worry about attention span or if it’s appropriate. They trust their kids and let them experience the experience.
I think we are building too linear of children. Art helps children and teens open their minds, think outside the box, problem solve, and imagine.
Because I think live art is sooo cool and all children should experience it.