John Allen is one of the featured artists creating a dance film for the New Orleans edition of Dances Made to Order. Curated by Diogo De Lima.
Why are you interested in making dance film?
Simply put, as a choreographer I just love the creative possibility and artistic control that the use of a camera and editing software provide. I know that the word, control, has a rather negative connotation to it, especially with regard to creative endeavors, but I can’t think of a better word to use right now that would more aptly describe an artist’s ability to manage or manipulate (I know, another bad word) a work so that it is more exact in terms of the vision s/he is trying to portray.
What are you looking forward to about the Dances Made to Order project? What are you nervous about?
What I look forward to the most about this project is simply just the opportunity to again engage with the creative process in film, which, despite the fact that my first experience in Dance for Camera was 16 years ago, is still a fairly new and somewhat foreign space in which to create for me. Of course there isn’t anything stopping me from doing it anyway but I find being involved in experiences like this with other like-minded artists to be very inspiring for me. The thought of being able to put my work up alongside other filmmakers/choreographers helps to spark an impetus and subsequent energetic momentum to create that I sometimes have a hard time instigating on my own. But as you might imagine, that is also the thing about this project that makes me nervous as well. I don’t think I’ve ever worked creatively on a project that didn’t, as some point or another, lead me through a period of anxiety as I struggled to find the most honest way to give life and form to my inner state, knowing that that honesty, which is often a little scared and shy, would be seen by others.
If we were going to spend the day with you hanging out in New Orleans, what would we do?
I’d want to take you to areas where you could experience the quieter side of this city. There is so much about New Orleans that relates to good times rolling and all that, which I’ve definitely indulged in and absolutely love about the culture here. Live music, bar crawls, costuming for no apparent reason, amazing eats, rides on the street car, Bourbon Street, bourbon in general, countless music and food festivals, paddleboat cruises, dive bars like none other where things happen at 3am the likes of which you couldn’t, nor would you probably want to, explain to somebody who wasn’t there, etc. This list is endless, really. But I think you would have already heard about many of those things to do and so would have made a plan in that regard. So what I’d want to do is to take you to my favorite park (Audubon) or abandoned golf course (City Park) or better yet, take a short trip outside the city and out into the swamps. Originally from the parched state of Arizona (a beautiful area in its own way), I wasn’t really prepared for the amount of life that is teeming out there. The flora and fauna are so diverse and abundant you can’t ever really go out there without experiencing something you’d never experienced before. And most of those experiences, much like the ones you’d have on Bourbon Street, are about exposing you to a side of yourself that you either didn’t know existed, or at least haven’t had the chance to get in touch with in a while. Only these would be a bit quieter in nature. Haha So if it were up to me, we’d go out there and wander for a while.
Tell us something surprising about yourself.
Well, this may not be as surprising to many as I’d like to think it is, but I often don’t really know what I’m doing. Having said that, I suppose I should also acknowledge that despite that, I’ve often managed to be involved in experiences and creations the likes of which would seem to require a great deal of knowing and planning. I recognize that a certain measure of that is due to being very fortunate in the collaborative partners I’ve had. Beyond that, though, it’s still a mystery to me how much of what I’ve been a part of has managed to come about.
Select the ideas that will inspire our artists work from from September 19 through September 27 and get your tickets for the exclusive online premiere on the Dances Made to Order site on October 17. For 20% off tickets and passes, use the discount code: NOLA. Offer expires on September 27. Visit our homepage.
Once the films premiere, you can watch them whenever you want, as often as you like from your computer or favorite mobile device.