Interview with Choreographer Lauren Withhart: Femininity within the Architecture of the Body
Each year, third-year students in the Dance MFA program present their thesis concerts. In October 2010, we present Lauren Withhart’s They are of threaded glass.
Withhart recently shared with us the meaning of her concert’s title and explained how she will use the performance space to give each audience member a unique experience.
What’s the meaning of the title of this piece?
Lauren Withhart: The “they” are the women. “Threaded glass” is a strong, spiraling architecture made out of fragile material. I wanted to find a title that made a statement, giving an ambiguous identity yet specific texture to the women.
Can you explain some of the main themes?
LW: The work is an exploration of femininity within the architecture of the body, of our home and space around us, as well as of our relationships.
…This is a culmination of my three years here.
The creative process came from an investigation of public vs. private space, revealing vs. concealing and the layering of periphery vs. core.
Talk about your creative process and the development of this piece.
LW: As my MFA thesis concert, this is a culmination of my three years here.
There are some sections that may be recognizable. I revisited “Fragmentation of Femininity” and “[||]”.
There are only three of us in this cast and each of us as women are in completely different phases of our lives. We did a lot of talking and processing about femininity from a very personal perspective, making our stories into movement through improvisation exercises.
I was also influenced by the book “The Glass Room” and how the author made the glass house an actual character in the story. I wanted to do the same with the incredible set designed by Collin Ranney.
There is a very specific relationship between the dancers and the space design. The environment is as important as the movement within it.
…The audience member has the opportunity to choose his perspective and to change it at any time. … Each audience member is going to have a completely different experience.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this?
LW: Upon arriving in the space, the audience member has the opportunity to choose his perspective and to change it at any time. That was very important to me.
The set is in-the-round and each audience member is going to have a completely different experience. One may see the dancers without any obstacles, while another may view the dancing through a glass wall.
I want the audience to have a thoughtful and fulfilling experience.
Join us October 14 & 15, 2010 for Lauren Withhart’s MFA Thesis Concert They are of threaded glass.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.