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Collaboration at 620: Lazaridis + Jones + bloom + residue

Bill DeYoung

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Choreographer Alexander Jones, left, and artist Rebekah Lazaridis. Photo by Steve Lazaridis.

Five years have flown by since artist Rebekah Lazaridis and choreographer Alexander Jones collaborated on an immersive work called bloom and residue at The Studio @620. Inspired by Stravinksky’s “The Rite of Spring,” the 2019 piece used the growth cycle of plants as a jumping-off point for creative movement.

The pair have re-approached bloom and residue, and the 2024 version will debut Thursday – just two days into the Spring Equinox – and continue with performances through Saturday.

“We’re different people,” explains Lazaridis, who worked for many years as a scenic designer for theater and film. “We’ve gone through a pandemic and all kinds of different things. Life has happened to us. So we wanted to approach this concept of the Rite of Spring cycle, transformation, as the people that we are now.”

According to Jones, the founder and artistic director of the modern dance company projectALCHEMY, bloom and residue has been changed, added to, taken away from re-imagined in places. Time, of course, brings about all sorts of new things.

Still, Jones admits, “Out of the five years, I feel like bloom and residue with Rebekah is one of the things that I hold so dear. I’ve done a lot of collaborations in St. Pete, out of St. Pete, in grad school, out of grad school, and bloom and residue was one of the things that really, to me, felt like a true collaboration.

“And even in this iteration, it still does. It’s very ‘together.’”

projectALCHEMY company photo for 2024. Image: Sarah Hamilton.

Their friendship began as a mutual admiration society, Lazaridis recalls, back in 2018. Jones saw her installation The Unseen and approached her: “I want to work with you,” he said.

“And I had seen him perform at Beacon, with Helen French, and I was like ‘I have an art crush on you. I want to work with you, too.’”

Fast-forward half a decade. “This feels like such a different piece to me,” Lazaridis enthuses. “There’s a light to it that wasn’t really there before; it feels lighter – I don’t know, maybe that’s just a state of mind that I’m in right now.”

The main difference is that the immersive dance element of bloom and residue is now centered around the Rose of Jericho – also known as the resurrection plant – mounted in the performance space. “There’s another one, at the entrance to the space, that’s in full bloom,” she explains.

The dancers are Kirsten Standridge, Talia Demps, Jonah Perez-Lopez and Heidi Brewer. “A lot of my movement came from me writing prose about the cycle of the Rose of Jericho,” says Jones. “From conversations that Rebekah and I had, It was me just sitting with the rose, my interest in astrology, the moon, nature and movement … I just started writing from there. I wrote what ends up being four sections of the work. I pulled the verbs of what was happening with the flower, and that’s how I crafted the different sections of the work.

“I shared it with Rebekah and said ‘If anything inspires you to come up with something for the mural, go for it.’”

Lazaridis explains the visuals: “I’ve created a mural in the space, so all of the walls have been touched. There are several 10 by 6 foot hanging panels of fabric that the audience is going to have to weave their way through in order to get to the space, to view the actual performance. The wall mural is covered with beautiful branches that are all inter-connected with each other, and go through a transformation from the beginning of the piece to the end.

“I’ve created an imaginary forest of a kind, that you have to push and move your way through to get to what we’re calling the clearing. There are going to be theatrical things and lighting within that space, too. And the dancers will interact with them.”

The pair have been deep in discussion, she says, for many months. Because this particular collaboration is important to them both.

“Dance,” gushes Lazaridis, “is such an amazing art form. It’s the most emotional art form I’ve ever come in contact with. It’s visceral how emotional it is.”

For tickets, and more information, visit the website.

The mural in progress. Photo provided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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