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Local company brings cutting-edge dance to Austinites.


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Photo: Jacques Productions
Photo: Jacques Productions

Photo: Jacques ProductionsDance often seems be an art form that doesn't interract much with its environment. Dancers on a stage create a world with just their bodies and movement, with little help from anything else. However performers in Sally Jacques' Jacques Productions company have a different attitude toward their environment. Jacques creates site-specific dance performances which embrace their surroundings rather than push them away.

"I’ve been dancing for a really long time, and when you're in just a studio with four walls and some mirrors . . it can get kind of monotonous and a little less exciting," says Jacques Productions dancer Laura Cannon. "With the work that Sally does, we are always in a new space, trying to solve new problems and and that is really entertaining. Your body has to figure out how to get into new spaces, and work with different kinds of equipment every time."

Photo: Jacques ProductionsJacques says she finds a great deal of power in using the dancers' surroundings as part of the art.

"I think site works create a multi level of experiences," says Jacques. "You have to deal with the space of the major collaborator. I think traditional theatre spaces often are, for me, inhibiting and limiting because I wanted to see what the body could do in space and create works that are reflective of our time -- of the era and when you take sites spaces and you have concrete urban environments and in them you want to create images that are beautiful and are suggestive of change, of challenging times . . . then I think the juxtaposition is is visually really really powerful, and transforming."

Photo: Jacques ProductionsJacques also adds power to her work by incorporating her own emotional experiences into the work. When Nothing Falls began as a reflection on the loss of her mother, and in When Nothing Falls II, expands into a more general reflection on loss. Her unique use of space addresses these universal emotional things in a unique and personal way.

"We were given this space and when we walked into it, I just thought, 'My God, it looks like a cathedral,' and it was so vast a space the only way to make movement in that was to use roller skates, so I said 'Lets have roller skates,' and then continuing in the apparatus we’ve been using, which is bungees, webbing, nets, we created Where Nothing Falls and the title suggests that you are always held in the embrace of that unconditional love. You will never fall in that presence . . . And this piece now, Where Nothing Falls II, I started to think Photo: Jacques Productionsabout the collective deaths, like Madrid, or Iraq, or what’s going on in the world, always on that level where a mass of people die together."

Jacques hopes that her innovation in dance will have a positive impact on human perception.

"I think currently . . there’s a huge edge to how everyone’s feeling emotionally and that there’s a place now because of that to really shift consciousness, and I think with any art form, the act of creating is really the antithesis of destruction," says Jacques. "It’s like nature, it’s a collaboration itself -- it unfolds. So, in this experience, it’s the images that are suggestive there -- never literal. You don’t have someone writing, but you have a suggestion of a collective experience occurring."

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Produced by Domenique Bellavia.

Footage provided by Full Circle Productions.

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