With Valentine’s Day looming, Courtney Peix has been playing matchmaker—though not for hopeful singles. Instead, Peix, the founder of Contrapose Dance, has been working with Fort Point Theatre Channel co-founder Marc Miller to connect local choreographers with Fort Point artists from different disciplines who may never have set foot in a dance studio. “We tried to pair up people we thought would be interesting collaborators,” Peix says of the cross-pollination project, a showcase for the ’hood’s diverse art scene. “We told them there are just a few restrictions: You have between 3 and 6 minutes to choreograph, you need to collaborate with the artistic partner we paired you with, and then go! Do it. Let’s see what happens.”
The rest of us will get to see what happens on Feb. 13-14, when the eight resulting creations premiere in Channel/Dance, a free show at Atlantic Wharf that’s the latest in FPTC’s Exclamation Point! series of short new works. It’s an eclectic program that promises to suit even the shortest of attention spans. “Robotic Interruptions” will have the Wondertwins (aka local dance duo Billy and Bobby McClain) interacting with Nick Thorkelson’s animated androids. “Coming and Going” flips the standard choreography process, with composer Olivia Brownlee creating music to suit Audra Carabetta’s moves, rather than the other way around. Other works incorporate helium balloons, giant hats and projected text; there’s even a piece that will be largely developed backstage during the show’s running time. And peppered between the dances will be six new plays—“palate cleansers,” as Peix puts it—each less than two minutes, connected to dance in some way and selected from a pool of 80 submissions from playwrights around the world.
But Peix isn’t just helping curate the evening. She’s teamed up with artist Daniel J. van Ackere, one of the talents behind Starry Night, the installation that’s brought beauty to an overlooked urban nook on A Street, adorning the stretch beneath the Summer Street overpass with hundreds of blue LED lights. Hoping to evoke its effect indoors, van Ackere set out to build a platform embedded with LEDs and covered with a white canopy, creating a mini-stage that will spotlight Contrapose dancers Nina Brindamour and Maggie Foster from both above and below. “What he has ultimately done is given me a space that seems changed and unusual and singular and special,” says Peix, who in turn choreographed “Dulcamara,” a work that riffs on relationships. “I’m interested in exploring these ties and connections that humans have to one another, so I’m playing with movement concepts where you’re folding into and out of one another, or limbs are connecting in an interesting way, and you’re sort of getting tied into a knot and unfolding from that.”
The only catch? Everyone has a day job, so Peix and her dancers won’t actually get to work with van Ackere’s creation until the day of the show. “I think of it as a challenge. There’s a little bit of thrill involved in it,” says Peix, who’ll also have to wait until show time to see the seven other finished works. “I’m really excited to see what these pieces are going to look like. It’s going to be like a giant present come the 13th of February.”