Erin Kilmurray’s newest work, Search Party, premieres in the Pivot Arts Festival on June 6, 8 and 9. She discusses the work and her inspirations with Alexa Erbach, Marketing Manager, below.
AE: You describe Search Party as “a live dance work that exists somewhere between the dance floor of a nightclub and a sports arena” charged by the current political climate. What inspired you to create this new piece?
EK: I think of Search Party as a piece that is reacting to, rather than a piece that is inspired by. It is born from a feeling that taking action is as necessary as it is impossible – an experiment in taking up more space and making more noise in our bodies and our environments. The piece makes a world where women, femme, and queer bodies are seen in competition and collaboration, as individuals, as a group – who are powerful, strong, rageful, exhausted, driven by desire, in communal healing together, and embodying unapologetic JOY.
This reaction isn’t a new need in our current political moment, thought it is timely. It is an accumulation of lifetimes of experiences – mine, my mother’s, those of my dancers, of our peers, of the stories we read. Search Party is tipping point and an invitation for wild release during a time where there is more energy being put towards tearing us apart.
AE: Your body of work is not only highly physical, but also engages with its audience, and Search Party seems to be no different. Can you explain the importance of the performer/audience relationship and how you are shifting the traditional duality of transmitter (performer) and receiver (audience)?
EK: I have spent a lot of time performing in clubs, on podiums, in music venues, at parties, as well as on formal theater and concert stages – all have greatly informed my work and how I think about the rules around how we witness people, both in live performance / art and in society. These experiences have led me to understand that performer and audience are both transmitters and receivers, with roles actively shifting throughout a single live performance. I am interested in recognizing equal responsibility to one another.
In Search Party, we include the audience, not in a “participatory” sort of way, but rather just shaping the terms of the room. Dance floors and sports arenas are spaces where people come together and can be physically and vocally out of control or out of bounds, both as performers and as spectators. I hope this framing helps acclimate to the lens we are asking our viewers to see us through, to make space for humanness and interaction. I wonder what taking that step offers, or maybe sometimes what it gives away.
AE: Many people know you as the creator of the wildly popular The Fly Honey Show. How does it feel to be going into your 10th season? Are there any new, exciting performances we’ll be seeing this year?
EK: With some familiar structures in place, we actually create a brand new show and new design every season. It feels WILD to be bringing The Fly Honey Show into its 10th year and to reflect on how much life this project has lived since starting out. I had no idea it would turn into the beautiful beast it has become. What a thrill!
I am incredibly proud of the FHS team and our growth – it is a massive collaborative effort from countless people – choreographers, writers, producers, stage managers, performers, musicians, designers, marketing, curation and front of house teams. They are all such talented, smart humans. I feel lucky to get to create and keep learning with all of them.
AE: Do you and your performers have any pre-show rituals or backstage shenanigans you can share with us?
EK: Oh sure, yes! It varies from project to project. The Search Party squad developed a warm-up sequence together that they co-lead before each rehearsal and performance. It is important to me that all six of them have a moment to lead the group and also follow and listen to each other.
AE: And finally…what’s one fun or unexpected fact most people don’t know about you?
EK: I am equal parts tender-hearted and tiger-hearted.
Thank you, Erin! Search Party premieres in the Pivot Arts Festival on Thursday, June 6 at 7pm; Saturday, June 8 at 9:30pm and Sunday, June 9 at 8pm. Tickets are going fast and can be found on the festival page at pivotarts.org/festival.
Note that if you see the show on June 6 or 8, you get a discount for Don’t Forget Your Mother by Brittany Harlin and if you see the show on June 9 you can received a discount on Gilgamesh and Enkidu by Seth Bockley, Jesse LaVercombe and Ahmed Moneka (in Moneka’s U.S. premiere!).
Photo of Erin Kilmurray by Matthew Gregory Hollis.