Rachel Tess: Souvenir
With a foot in Portland and a foot in Sweden, this Portland native's latest work reflects her itinerant lifestyle: Souvenir, a dance set on a transportable stage of interlocking pine boards, enough to fill a 40-foot shipping container. Tess created the piece in Sweden, premiered it in Manhattan, and will stage a new version of it in Portland next spring after a preview this month. She calls the travelling stage "a mobile choreographic environment."
Souvenir germinated in 2011. Having previously choreographed dances for nontheatrical locales such as galleries and unfinished retail spaces, Tess wanted to push the limits of mobility and interactivity by building a set that was both stage and seating. She collaborated with a cabinetmaker in Sweden to create a structure from hand-planed planks connected by pegs—something the dancers could assemble on-site. The self-contained theater has built-in cubbyholes, which viewers occupy, while dancers perform contemporary solos and duets set only to localized sound—the scuff of a dancer's foot, distant traffic noise—which means Souvenir changes with every location.
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