Scott Wells, the man who won an Izzy for best choreography (2005 and 2010) is back with seven guys, athletic dance, and balls of all sizes (because it’s not the size, it’s how you use ’em that matters). Known for his powerful, full bodied contact improvisation, Wells’ movement is like a cross between a rich Cabernet Sauvignon (I’m thinking of you, T Vine) and roller derby at Kezar: suspended moments of wild, sweaty panting complemented with the saucy undertones of a master mixer.
What: Scott Wells & Dancers present BALL-IST-IC
When: May 28-30 and June 4-6, 8PM; June 18-19, 8PM and 9:30PM
Tickets: $15 for members; $18 in advance; $20 at the door; online
Wells’ focus stays fast and true to his choreography. On his website, he says, “I don’t aim to be political or to be literal. I focus on movement and am intrigued and dedicated to see what that reveals; about us.” With a new work coming to CounterPULSE, Wells shared a little about his personal style and his new piece, BALL-IST-IC.
Becca Hirschman: Where do you get the inspiration for your wild and energetic style?
Scott Wells: When I was a teenager I started practicing yoga and ended up living in a monastery for a year. One day we all went and played basketball, and I realized how much I loved and missed that type of physicality (I loved all sports as a child). In dance I found connections for wild movement, art, and consciousness.
Is there anything about San Francisco or the Bay Area that tends to ground or drive you?
San Francisco has one of the biggest and most vital contact improvisation scenes in the world. It is creative and world renowned. My choreography and training are grounded in contact improv.
Why balls? I enjoy watching sports and I’m interested in finding what looks compelling onstage. There should be no limits for contemporary choreography. So for me, it’s about what works. Tossing and playing with the balls leads to lively interactions onstage. Also, we have two world-class (seriously) jugglers in the cast–and they can dance.
Why are the performers all men? Does this have anything to do with the balls?
I think the cast could easily include women and might next time we do it. We did one dance last year, which we are re-staging (Call of The Wild, which won San Francisco’s award, the Izzies, for best choreography). This dance is particularly built on the ways men relate to each other.
You’re sharing the program with Jin-Wen Yu (originally from Taiwan and currently the chair of the dance department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison). How did this partnership come about?
Jin-Wen Yu and I went to graduate school (for dance) together 20 years ago. I like his work, and we found a good opportunity to share the bill.