By Gina Hoch-Stall, choreographer
In the past few weeks I have often been asked why jobs and work are the inspiration for the company’s newest evening length dance. Here is my answer:
Because I believe that we often define people by their work. We categorize, label, stereotype and organize them in this way. We have all been victims and perpetrators of this type of sorting and I wanted to know, is it true? Does your work say something about who you are?
I am also curious about what different types of work sound like, look like; how people feel about what they do and what it means to them. This project is one way to learn about the human experience and it is something that I, never having had a ‘proper job’ with a salary and benefits, am not sure that I completely understand. It is also incredibly timely as ideas about work and jobs are currently changing dramatically.
I am choosing to make a dance because I love making dances; I love working with my dancers and performing. But I also think dance is a great medium for fully embodying what work looks like, showing passion/drive or casual precision. It is helpful for perceiving process and problem-solving and for tackling issues from multiple sides: telling a story, asking a question, and digging into all of the physical stuff in between.
However, I don’t want to overlook the reality that many people do not consider dancing or creating dances a job. Not because we do not work hard but because we are paid poorly or not at all. We have no benefits, no retirement, no stability—and almost all of us have to retain other jobs to support our dance life. It is possible that this particular reality of a dancer’s life gives me a skewed perspective on the working world but I have also found that people’s reactions to my career and employment say a lot about what they believe work is about: passion, money, relationships, boredom. I am still figuring out how to incorporate my own experiences, as well as the dancers’, into the work but I’m sure I will find a way.