The Making of Giant with San Francisco's ODC Dance
I bring a specific goal into the studio for commissions, generally some notion about how to advance my craft. But when I encounter a lively group of dancers, I instinctively zero in on them, listening to their voices in a dynamic conversation. I set up improvisational prompts to hunt for ideas, leads and chemistries. My process is based on experimenting and trust-building, which I love to do with dancers. Giant emerged from just this sort of investigative flux-and-flow. The individuals in the room help form meaning: how they shine through, what special qualities they offer, what energy rises when they move, or interact with each other.
In Giant, I was playing with ideas of heroism, singularity, power-play, grandiosity. Giant works with formal scale, and a scale of human will as well. There are motifs dealing with spatial issues: how huge does the space get, or the body itself, how tiny, bent or pressed? How do people contain or shape space, each other? Who gets to shape space? I use a lot of soloists in this piece, individuals pitted against a group, or groups pitted against each other.
Giant has a sort of comic-book structure; one character predominates, hero-like, and then another. I don’t hook the sections into any narrative but let them bump up against each other for texture and contrast. Each section explores human will, while my set & lighting designer, Matthew Antaky, frames the action in outsized visual scale - rendering humans tiny in a vast universe - whether or not we think we may be Giants.