Inside Out by Amy Llanes To Close Out HopeWerks’ 2012-13 Season

To the Brim, Lena Silva

To the Brim, Lena Silva

Amy Llanes wants you to feel uncomfortable when you view her choreography. To Llanes, the Artistic Director of Rednerrus Feil DanceCompany (RFDC), when an audience leaves feeling awkwardly pensive, she’s done her job. Her upcoming performance Inside Out, which will be closing the 2012-13 season of HopeWerks “works-in-progress” series, is centered around some weighty topics, such as coming of age and feminism, and yes, this might make some audience members squirm in their seats but that is the point.

When Llanes was invited to be a part of the HopeWerks’ season, she was quite nervous about the expectations. Llanes is a fly by the seat of her pants type of choreographer — she’s been known to scrap an entire dance half-way through if she feels it has gone astray from her original vision — so having to commit to a specific production for HopeWerks was new for her.

“I had to give them a lot of information about the show and then stay as true as I could to those descriptions,” Llanes says. This was a bit scary. But Llanes embraced the challenge as she does with challenging themes in her work, and this showcase is no different. Inside Out will feature two pieces, a solo and a duet, both of which explore Llanes personal ethics and emotional wisdom.

In the solo piece, Llanes worked with two dancers, Jamie Zahradnik and Danielle Gonzaba, who have been a part of RFDC for many years, and let them guide the direction the piece would ultimately go. Llanes wanted to tackle the universal theme of coming of age and maturity, and she and the dancers spent some time just talking about their own growing pains. Those memories were transformed into the current solo, which will be performed by a different dancer each night. While the actual choreography will be the same, Llanes expresses that the vast contrast between how each dancer builds character and makes use of their environment is quite distinct, and she is excited about that. “I gave these dancers the liberty to put their own impression on the piece,” Llanes explains, “and from one night to the next it will be like seeing two different dances.”

Llanes’ second piece will be a duet based on her experience with marriage and what it means to be a modern feminist. Growing up with very traditional family values, Llanes has had strong feelings on how to be a wife and her own woman simultaneously. This duet is a way for her to process what the word “feminism” means to her and the connotations it has in society. Llanes feels that it is a word people tiptoe around and it is her intention to put it out for all to contemplate.

This duet aims to blur the traditional lines between man and wife, and Llanes cast this piece with much consideration of how to distort these lines. When choosing dancers for the work, Llanes cast a male and female dancer that look somewhat similar. They will be dressed similarly as well and she hopes that from certain vantage points the audience will not be able to tell them apart. Casting in a theatrical manner like this is something completely new for the choreographer who tends to just focus on the strength of the performer.

While Llanes is native to the greater Houston area, she still considers herself relatively new to the Houston dance community, despite being named one of Houston Press’ 100 Creatives for 2013. She had left the area to complete her M.F.A. in dance from Sam Houston State University. She formed the company in 2006, and since then they have performed in various festivals across Texas and Louisiana. She sees Inside Out, however, as a jumping off point into what she hopes will be a large show sometime this fall. It will be the company’s first official full production. While she is still feeling it out, she sees the solo from this workshop transforming into a longer piece along with other work that she is currently creating.

Llanes is excited about the upcoming showing and looks forward to how the audience will react to the material. “My work is honest, and that is what makes people nervous,” she says. “But if you feel something, even if it’s being annoyed with me, that is a good thing in the end.”

Inside Out by Amy Llanes will take place on June 28 and 29, 2013, at 8:00pm at Hope Stone Studios. Tickets for each of the shows are $5 and are available at the door. Hope Stone Studio is located at 1210 W. Clay #26, Houston, TX 77019.

Abby Koenig is a Houston based playwright and arts writer.

About the Author

Abby Koenig received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from the Dramatic Writing Conservatory at the State University of New York at Purchase. She is a published author of creative non-fiction, in addition to being a regular contributing writer to the Houston Press, Arts + Culture Magazine, Dance Source Houston and Houstonia Magazine, among others. She is also a playwright with several of her works produced in New York, Houston and Colorado. In 2011 she received her Masters Degree in Communication from the University of Houston. She is a professor of communication at Houston Community College and the University of Houston Downtown.

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