redcurrant collective

Category: Meet The Members

Other People Dancing: Benjamin Kimitch’s work in progress

On the breezy evening of July 19th, RCC berries Julia, Sarah, and myself curiously arrived at Brooklyn Arts Exchange for an in-progress showing of new work by Benjamin Kimitch. We were all looking forward to seeing what Ben had been up to with dancers Julie McMillan and Claire Westby since we had last seen his work in an academic setting.

What we weren’t prepared for was how deeply Ben would take us into his artistic process. It is a rare thing for a choreographer to lead you through the evolution of their thoughts step-by-step, providing visual aids, anecdotes, and rehearsal experiences as context for considering their work. Rare, but incredibly rewarding. From a Chinese dance and laser show spectacular, to an M.I.A. music video, to ancient cave paintings, to cityscape photographs eerily devoid of people, to a passage from Artaud, I felt like I was taking a vacation from my own analytical head, only to dive into Ben’s. Once Claire and Julie began their demonstration of material, I felt I had an immediate context and understanding of their movement, which only increased my interest in the dense yet tender nature of their duets.

And then there was that word: duet. Ben’s work here was so refreshing because he somehow managed to have two dancers moving together without  any of the trappings of a”duet.” It was more like they were both part of the same person, affecting the space and time around them as well as one another with the same energy one might use in pursuing two separate trains of thought. Their movements were layered and intricate; their journeys through space, pleasantly strange. The dancers’ downcast eyes represented a distinct artistic choice (Ben stressed this non-confrontational aspect of Chinese traditional dance) rather than a performance habit. It was fascinating to see the bones of a dance, already sculpted and polished so extensively, without the larger form of a “piece.”

I was further intrigued by Ben’s self-proclaimed struggle with the task of creating an environment in which an audience might begin to consider and meditate on a theme (in this case, loss). This difficulty is one that all dance-makers face at different times and in different ways, and one ideal outcome was articulated on the back of my program: “A real stage play upsets our sensual tranquility, releases our repressed subconscious, drives us to a kind of potential rebellion (since it retains its full value only if it remains potential), calling for a difficult heroic attitude on the part of the assembled groups.” [Antonin Artaud’s The Theater and its Double, Calder, 1993]

Ben’s longtime collaborator, Matthew-Flory Meade, is developing an original score for the work’s premier in 2013. A few recordings from the group’s time at Kaatsbaan were played alongside bits of choreography, and I was struck by how sparse the music, with its lone, resonant piano notes, was in comparison with the incredible complexity of the dancing. A second in-progress showing will take place on Saturday, October 13th at 6pm in the newly renovated New York Live Arts studios. You better bet I’ll be there!

Words: Liz Montgomery

Dancing: Julie McMillan and Claire Westby for Benjamin Kimitch


Meet The Members: Julia Jurgilewicz

We’ve asked each of the ten RedCurrant members what they’ve been up to since graduating from Tisch and what they are looking forward to doing with the Collective in the next year.

Amidst a group of nine, radically active individuals, all of which hold down a minimum of two jobs and multiple side projects, there is invariably one organized person who manages to get them all together in one room at the same time. For RedCurrant Collective, that person is Julia. Ceaselessly scheduling with the help of our new favorite toy, Doodle, Julia still manages to always send an essential email, find one last typo before we go to print, and realize an impending disaster before any of the rest of us. Without her, not only would we never see each other; we’d probably all be spontaneously combusting.

Like many of us, Julia has been surprised by the various directions in which her career has wandered. Yet her resumé knows no equal in her eclecticism.  She has been a cover for the Met Opera’s production of Don Giovanni (and actually got to perform!), danced for one weekend with San Francisco-based company Levy Dance, acted as a consultant for the Charles Weidman Foundation, performed with Stacey Rose Collaborations, been in a commercial for the Guggenheim’s collection in Australia, and even appeared as an extra on “Law and Order.”

Like a few of her fellow berries, Julia is a part of Claudia Hubiak’s The Anata Project, a bi-coastal experiment in mindful dance creation. Whenever I encounter her, whether it be in the morning at Gibney Dance Center or for rehearsal at Triskelion Arts, Julia  is invariably coming from/going to another gig. Just the other day, she was explaining to me the recent stint she’d had as a be-sparkled backup dancer for a Canadian-Indian Bollywood singer. One thing’s for sure: JJ has got M-O-M-E-N-T-U-M, and she is dedicated to constantly finding new ways to keep dance a main focus. I count myself lucky to be among a very select few who can accurately spell her last name.

Thanks Julia!

Julia Jurgilewicz has never licked an eyeball. She likes to eat Irish-oatmeal-raisin cookies while folding laundry. Her favorite place to read fantasy fiction novels is the subway. One day, she would like to own a pig for a pet.

words:Liz Montgomery and Julia Jurgilewicz
photography: Samantha Siegel and Julia’s parents


Meet the Members: Sarah Hillmon

We’ve asked each of the ten RedCurrant members what they’ve been up to since graduating from Tisch and what they are looking forward to doing with the Collective in the next year.

Sarah is RedCurrant’s treasurer and ever-helpful number cruncher, and boy are we glad! While the rest of us were avoiding math classes like the plague in college, Sarah was tackling advanced trigonomics and algebrometry. She is currently serving as the general coordinator for our upcoming showing, Tags Attached.

Sarah spent most of the summer relaxing and took some time off to visit her family. She also explored her new neighborhood and took serious advantage of our Gibney Dance Center connection, meaning a lot of cleaning in exchange for ballet classes. She worked at good ol’ Macy’s in Rochester, NY and danced at Garth Fagan’s summer program. Sarah’s current day job is at Capezio where she helps to supply tights, leotards, and tiny black shorts to all manner of dancers… and sometimes regular people who are looking for Black Swan costumes.

She recently became an alternate with the Lucinda Childs Dance Company and has been rehearsing for an international tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’ opera, Einstein on the Beach, with choreography by Childs. When she isn’t dancing, taking class, or working, you can find her at her home in Crown Heights where she lives with fellow collective member, Allie, and a cat named Dylan.

Sarah has seen a lot of us lately (in addition to rehearsing multiple pieces, she has also acted as a peer reviewer for our works in process), but she isn’t sick of us yet! As far as the future goes, Sarah hopes that we will continue making new works together and in doing so, get our names on the map.

Thanks Sarah!

Sarah Hillmon has never mastered the harmonica. She likes to drink extra strong coffee while watching Netflix movies. Her favorite place to daydream is in her head. One day, she would like to see the world.

words: Liz Montgomery and Sarah Hillmon
photography: Samantha Siegel and on of those school photographers

Meet the Members: Russell Stuart Lilie

We’ve asked each of the ten RedCurrant members what they’ve been up to since graduating from Tisch and what they are looking forward to doing with the Collective in the next year.

Russell Stuart Lilie is perhaps the zaniest of us all. His ideas range from the slightly strange to the downright bizarre, and listening to his explanation of them is always entertaining (made more so if he happens to be wearing his poncho). Russell and Laura (also known collectively as ‘gossip girl & boy’ and sometimes ‘Ramona & Steve’ in their team emails to us) serve as our art direction team by creating projects to produce media that we can share with all of you! In the future, they will also be making big picture decisions about our RCC shows.

Since graduation, Russell has been working with the choreographic luminary Shen Wei on a project-to-project basis and has been on tour to some really cool places like Ljubljana (you don’t pronounce any of the J’s and only one of the L’s,) Slovenia and Reggio Emmelio, Italy (“that’s where they make Parmesan Reggiano cheese!!!”). Russell really likes cheese.

Russell and Brighid often work together under the name “Greene Lilie.” United by a similar movement aesthetic, they have forged ahead in making dance work and a class curriculum together. We can’t wait to experience their creations first hand! Russell is also a member of Claudia Hubiak’s bi-costal dance experiment, The Anata Project.

And as if all of this weren’t enough, Russell has been taking class, hanging out with friends, getting to know his new roommate, and figuring out how to be an adult.

Tune in soon for our next installment. Thanks Russell!

Russell Stuart Lilie has never sculpted a gargoyle. He likes to eat starfruit while sparkling. His favorite place to chimney sweep is the Star Fleet Academy. One day, he would like to hybridize azaleas.

words: Liz Montgomery and Russell Stuart Lilie
photography: Samantha Siegel and Russell’s parents

Meet The Members: Samantha Siegel

We’ve asked each of the ten RedCurrant members what they’ve been up to since graduating from Tisch and what they are looking forward to doing with the Collective in the next year.

Samantha Siegel is the other half of our web development and social media team (and she is by far our most prolific tweeter; check her out on Twitter here). Samantha serves as a Social Media Consultant with Design Brooklyn for Jordan Matter Photography and his Dancers Among Us project.

If we had a “photography” team in RedCurrant, Sam would be it! She took basically all the photos at our first shoot and has since been spotted snapping pictures all around the city. She spent New Year’s Eve 2011 covering the final performance of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and also shot WestFest at the Merce Cunningham Studio (wow!). She was even published in December’s issue of Dance Magazine (double wow!) You can check out her photo work here. Sam has also assisted with behind the scenes shots with Jordan Matter for Dancers Among Us and the Paul Taylor Dance Company 2012 Moving! Campaign.

Samantha is in LOVE with swing dancing (and she is using this post as a platform to tell the world that Gene Kelly’s DO still exist!). Sam is currently a dancer with the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers. She will be performing with Ground Grippers Dance Company (which fuses swing & Lindy-Hop with modern dance) in Cirque-Off at Triskelion Arts this Friday, January 20th!

Tune in soon for our next installment. Thanks Sam!

Samantha Siegel has never been bored. She likes to eat nutella while not being bored. Her favorite place to do things is everywhere. One day, she would like to meet every person in the world.

words: Allie Pfeffer and Samantha Siegel
photography: Samantha Siegel (shot by Ben Olk and Julia Jurgilewicz, respectively) and Samantha’s mom