By Melissa Durante….
With the sun finally having melted the last of Ann Arbor’s deep freeze, it seems the Dance in the Mitten Intensive is just around the corner. In preparation for the week-long festival, we caught up with Tanya Calamoneri—one of the talented artists guest-teaching during the program.
Tanya is currently a visiting professor at Colgate University and artistic director of the SoGoNo Company. Her work is artistically interdisciplinary, the effect of earlier influences that have profoundly impacted her career. She explains these influences, saying, “Dancing in the San Francisco Bay Area – first with Kim Epifano and others within the dance-theater/contact improv community, and then with my own company, violent dwarf – shaped my aesthetic immeasurably. Dancing there in the 1990s, I experienced a complete blurring of dance/theater/music/art and it was the norm to be provocative with form as well as content.” Her work is further influenced by her experiences with butoh dance, a Japanese theatre-dance form which portrays distressing images and often takes on the taboo or the absurd. Tanya happened upon butoh seemingly by accident during physical theater training with Action Theater. Following a three-month training period, the artist Shinichi Koga asked her to join his company for a tour of Germany. She says, “I had no idea what butoh was but was quickly submerged and remained so for about 13 years.” She’s had the opportunity to study under many notable artists in the butoh community, and this dance form continues to inform her work.
Her personal style has continued to evolve. As artistic director of SoGoNo, she brings together a variety of interdisciplinary artists, and draws on not only her butoh experiences but also physical theater, contemporary dance, and occasionally jazz or burlesque forms. She describes her aesthetic as “darkly comedic.” When asked why she dances, Tanya explains how dance provides her the chance to “grapple with my thoughts and imagination in real time.” She further explains that she dances, “because I can still surprise myself when I dance, and because it allows me to express things that language cannot.” To learn more about Tanya and her work, visit the SoGoNo website at sogono.org and dance with her this summer at the Dance in the Mitten festival!