Human Measure, HOME, Manchester, UK 2021, production still, created by Cassils, choreography by Jasmine Albuquerque, photo by Manuel Vason.

Backstage with Human Measure Choreographer, Jasmine Albequerque

Canadian Stage interviews Jasmine Albequerque

We’re honoured to present Human Measure this month from internationally acclaimed visual and performance artist, Cassils at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

In this edition of CS Grid, we take you behind the stage to hear from renowned US choreographer Jasmine Albuquerque on her creative journey exploring the material, what makes this production unique to her and what she hopes audiences will take away from this performance.

 

Can you introduce yourself and your role in Human Measure?

My name is Jasmine Albuquerque and I am a dancer, choreographer and instructor based in Los Angeles. I had the honor of choreographing Human Measure.

 

With the dance, I wanted to create movement that told a story of struggle, pain and trauma but also one of breakthrough, beauty, ritual and resurrection. There is choreography but I wanted to leave enough room in each phrase for the dancers to bring their own style, to tell their own story and to feel free to break out of any dancer mold or confinement. To walk the line of dancer and human. Each of these dancers sing with their bodies. I wanted to give them room to scream too.

 

 

What is so unique about the dance aesthetic produced in Human Measure?

The aesthetics of Human Measure are unique because it is meant to emulate a photographer's dark room. The dark red lighting and dramatic use of flash give it a quality that is both sensual and disruptive, almost shocking to the system. The dancers are partially (some fully) naked and the lighting creates silhouettes of their bodies that move on stage almost like ghosts or a second cast of bodies. Because of this lighting, their bodies become like sculptures where at times only parts of the form are revealed. As an audience member you feel like you are looking at a moving painting rather than naked bodies filling the stage. The notion of the trans body being invisible almost flips on itself as a powerful statement of ownership of self. With the dance, I wanted to create movement that told a story of struggle, pain and trauma but also one of breakthrough, beauty, ritual and resurrection. There is choreography but I wanted to leave enough room in each phrase for the dancers to bring their own style, to tell their own story and to feel free to break out of any dancer mold or confinement. To walk the line of dancer and human. Each of these dancers sing with their bodies. I wanted to give them room to scream too.


What does Human Measure mean to you?

Human Measure has become almost like a family member to me. It feels like a living organism that breathes and evolves over time. It is the only piece in all of my career that I have been given the opportunity to work on over years. That space has allowed me to see it in many forms, to feed it in different ways and to adapt it to the changing nature of the world around me as time ticked on. It is an honest statement about being silenced and being bold, about holding each other, about touch, about love, beauty and pain. It is a catharsis and a mother ship all in one. I see it almost as a river where the dancers can come and sing into it, cry into it, shout into it or simply sit by it and listen. It is forever changing and morphing every time it is performed mostly because these incredible dancers are so open, so attuned to the music, as if every one of their pores are receptive to each other, receptive to the air around them, to the slowing down of time, to the very moment that is created within its space.

 

It is an honest statement about being silenced and being bold, about holding each other, about touch, about love, beauty and pain.

 

How does it feel working with Cassils?

Working with Cassils has been a god send. Cassils is a dream collaborator, someone who knows what they want and yet are always open to ideas and new concepts. When I am at a loss, Cassils fills in the gaps. They are one of the most fearless performers I have ever worked with and I am so glad they have decided to move into the medium of dance with this piece. A room with Cassils in it is supportive, safe, almost royal. They give me space to create as I need but also have wonderful feedback and are always trying to find deeper meaning, to push ideas to the next level, to take the art up a notch. The trust they have given me is priceless and I feel so grateful to know a human as golden as Cassils. They are completely committed to their art and so profound in their ability to speak about it. The only problem now is that I am completely spoiled!!!!

 

 

Working with Cassils has been a god sent. Cassils is a dream collaborator, someone who knows what they want and yet are always open to ideas and new concepts. When I am at a loss, Cassils fills in the gaps. They are one of the most fearless performers I have ever worked

 


What do you hope audiences will take away from this performance?

I am the type of performer that lives under the idea that you know you have made a good piece when some of the audience gets up and leaves. I want this piece to make people feel uncomfortable. We do not change until we go through a deeper unraveling of ourselves. I want this piece to hit people in spots they didn't even know they had. If it makes you questions things wonderful. If it makes you cry a little or get the chills I have done my work. If you re-live some pain while watching it, I hope too that you see that you are not alone and that it is through coming together and holding each other that we move on, that we rise up. In all the discomfort, I wish that the audience feels the massive love Human Measure was birthed from. I dream they walk away with a golden thread and can use that thread to stitch a new quilt.

I dream they walk away with a golden thread and can use that thread to stitch a new quilt.


Human Measure created by Cassils.
On stage October 27 - October 29, 2022.
 

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