Sasha Ivanochko says photos like this helped inspire her chanteuse character.
THE FUTURE MEMORY HEARTBREAK JUNCTION choreography by Sasha Ivanochko. Presented by Dancemakers (55 Mill). Tonight through Saturday (Thursday, December 11 to 13) at 8 pm. $22, stu/srs $18. 416-367-1800, dancemakers.org.
Where do you go once you've been to Heaven?
If you're dance artist Sasha Ivanochko, first off you put on some clothes.
"The nudity wasn't such a big deal - it was a continuation of my work exploring candid performance," says Ivanochko, about her last full-length work, Heaven, which featured her and two other dancers in the buff.
To viewers of that 2006 piece, however, what proved more provocative than the nudity was the lack of a soundscape.
"I wanted to show that the body is a rhythmical vessel," she says. "It's full of coursing rhythms - your heartbeat, your breath. There's the sound of flesh hitting the floor."
It's ironic, then, that in The Future Memory Heartbreak Junction, Ivanochko's first major post-Heaven work finds her decked out in a fancy costume and employing lots of non-corporeal sounds. She's done vocal training with Katherine Duncanson and commissioned composer Catherine Thompson to create a score.
Ivanochko is also - are you sitting down? - singing. Yes, the woman who can look pretty impassive when executing her or anyone else's moves (chalk it up to early gymnastics training) gets to belt out a few numbers.
"My character is kind of like a 1950s-era torch singer," she laughs. "I call her a tart with a heart. The persona came out of various songs from the era like I Fall To Pieces and go all the way up to a Eurythmics number from the 1990s."
The idea for the character clicked when Ivanochko got ready for the publicity shoot for the piece.
"I found a pair of shoes I thought were cute, I took a dress from my closet, put on makeup and did the photo shoot," she says. "When the photos came out, I said, ‘Oh my god, who is this woman?'"
Strangely enough, Ivanochko says the work's movement isn't its most important feature.
"I was attracted to the idea of repetition - not just repeated phrases, but repeated gestures," she says. "We're creatures of habit. Every day we do the same thing, but there's a slight difference each time - there's a little bit more scar tissue or knowledge. With each repetition I'll be able to offer the audience a little bit more insight into her personality, character and life."
Additional audio clips:
Ivanochko on dance training and vocal work:
On taking a break between works: