I first met Gregory Dolbashian this past summer while I was interning for BODYTRAFFIC Dance Company’s Summer Program in Los Angeles. As part of my job, I acted as the liaison between the guest artists and BODYTRAFFIC, driving the artists around LA, helping to set them up in their apartments, and assisting them in the studio setting. I met Gregory on the Sunday before classes started at a burger place in Venice, California. He was there with his girlfriend enjoying a burger, fries, and a beer and instantly offered me some fries as soon as I sat down. As I sat there with him and his girlfriend, I could not get over the fact that he was such a DUDE! He was unlike any male dancer I had ever worked with before, a complete bro, yet so smiley, kind, generous, positive, curious, and hard working. As my week with him progressed, he surprised me over and over again. I experienced his devotion and passion towards dance and his craft, his extreme optimism, and his omnipresent generosity. But after a week of diving into his world I had to say goodbye and move onto the next guest artist. Little did I know that seven months later we would be back in the same room, diving even deeper into his unique world!
I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to work with Gregory again in such an intimate, creative, and collaborative process. He brought a very different and new energy to Dark Circles. He always came into the studio with games, tasks, and prompts for us to warm up with that both informed his work and woke up our minds and bodies in a different way than our usual improvisation or ballet warm-up. We worked very collaboratively with Gregory in the creation process of Evermore. Gregory challenged us to create our own phrase work for solos and duets through task-oriented prompts. After we created our movement, he would come in and help to diversify quality, range, relationship, texture, and timing. Through these changes, a concept and context for the piece was further developed.
It was a fascinating process because on the one hand, Gregory has a very specific style of his own that he carries into the work and movement vocabulary. But, on the other hand, he is very committed to the dancers bringing their truest self into the work. For me, this balance or sweet spot between his style and my own aesthetic was very difficult to find. I dance from an internal place, listening to my body and mind to create images or sensations that drive my movement. He comes from a much more tactile, observant of the external, and almost hip-hop influenced aesthetic, resulting in many isolations and holds within his epic movement. Because of this, I often felt that my instincts when performing his movement or even my own phrase work were always incorrect or faulty. I had to work through this negativity and truly listen to his positive and constructive feedback to get past all of the over-thinking I was doing and trust him, the process, and myself. Talking with the other dancers, it became apparent that all of us were going through some sort of emotional or internal conflict throughout the process. Between life changes coming up, fear of the future, self-doubt, conflict within relationships, etc., real life was occurring during our time with Gregory and sometimes it was difficult to separate our dancing from our issues.
Towards the end of the residency, I believe a shift occurred within the work for all of us. We somehow stopped worrying so much, and placed our reality into the work. Evermore, in both the way it was created and the way it is performed is truly just an experience of working through life. One should not watch this piece wondering what it is about. One should watch this piece to better understand oneself, humans, relationships, and the act of existing. I believe there is something for everyone in this work, as it is a piece, which exemplifies that art is not always something separate from reality. In Evermore, we let ourselves get lost within the world we create. Really, we just let life happen.
Reserve your seats for the world premiere of Gregory Dolbashian's Evermore as well as for the world premieres of Joshua L. Peugh's Halt! and Bleachers. Performances take place May 5 through 7 at Erma Lowe Hall, Studio Theatre, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15-25. Tickets can be purchased online at darkcirclescontemporarydance.com