Hot Spontaneous Performers: FringeArts Interview with David Zambrano on SOUL PROJECT

Republished by kind permission from the FringeArts blog.

“Since the beginning of my career as a choreographer, I have always selected a group of international individuals. I like the idea that everything we have created in dance has come from a cultural exchange.”


Experience soul in all of its manifestations: spiritual and musical, abstract and personal.

World renown experimental choreographer and improviser, David Zambrano, is bringing his high-intensity dance, Soul Project, to the 2015 Fringe Festival. Taking place at Christ Church Neighborhood House, Zambrano’s piece features an international cast of dancers performing a series of solos to classic soul music. Instead of watching the powerful dancers from a distance, audience members are invited to meander about the dancers and see them dance up close. There are two performances of Soul Project on September 18 and 19 and each show, rooted in spontaneous improvised movement, is different. We recently asked Zambrano questions about Soul Project.

soul_project_website_1FringeArts: Why is the title Soul Project?

David Zambrano: I finished my group piece Twelve Flies Went Out At Noon (2005), a resemblance of a social centric society where decisions are made by the community of people. Dancers were constantly moving through each other, under over and around, always going somewhere dancing together. After that work, I got the idea to make the opposite. A choreography where the dancers, one by one, would take any center in the performance room, root themselves on the floor (with feet very well planted), and make the audience come to watch them from close up. After many rehearsals, I thought to give the title for that work: “Solo Project”. I choose Soul Music for those rehearsals. And through the doing with the feet very well planted on the floor, I arrived into the thought that when the sole of our feet feel very comfortable interconnected with the ground, very well rooted into the Earth, our souls feel very happy. So from the combination of the Soul Music and rooted feet dances, I came to the title of Soul Project.

FringeArts: How do your live recordings affect the body?

David Zambrano: Not all the recordings are live recordings. I think there are about three pieces recorded in studios. One strong reason I thought when I heard all those singers singing live, was the way they come out through their voices when they have public. It was more sublime and orgasmic. With the dancers we practice a lot to be able to arrive in those kind of states while performing for each other and later on, for the general public. We have enormously enjoyed to dance to those live performances of the singers.

soul_project_website_3FringeArts: Why is working with an international cast of dancers so important to you?

David Zambrano: Since the beginning of my career as a choreographer, I have always selected a group of international individuals. I like the idea that everything we have created in dance has come from a cultural exchange. My selected dancers and I have always learned a lot from each other while working together. Not only from our different dance backgrounds, but also from different ways of eating, cooking, living, etc. I also love to make a possible environment in all my creations where it feels like a little representation of our world but without borders.

FringeArts: What does the closeness of the audience do for the performance?

David Zambrano: The idea of having the audience coming very close to watch each one of us performing came from the way I directed our rehearsals. Everyday we performed for each other during the creation process, and the way I selected that act was to come as close as possible and watch every little and big movement from each performer. After I took that idea to the general public. We became really good improvisers of small powerful movement that can only be appreciated if public come closer to watch.

FringeArts: How do you approach working with dancers to create a solo that is both yours and theirs?

David Zambrano: I do not teach dance steps to the dancers I select. I many times give them images/qualities/tools to work with as we are creating the pieces. The dance is made by the dancer and myself as a director. For Soul Project I worked more as a coach until they became really hot spontaneous performers.

Thank you, David!

Soul Project runs September 18 + 19, 2015, at 8pm at Christ Church Neighborhood House [20 North American Street], fringearts.com/soul-project.

Photos by Anja Hitzenberger

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About the author

Josh McIlvain

Josh McIlvain is the artistic director of SmokeyScout Productions which he co-founded in 2008 with Deborah Crocker (to whom he is also married!). He has had more than 115 productions of some 70 plays throughout the U.S., including more than 38 New York City productions. Josh is also the leader of the rock collective Josh McIlvain & The Generals of Sexcop (listen to the hot tracks at sxcp.bandcamp.com!), the editor/publisher of Philly Fiction (collections of short stories set in Philadelphia and written by local writers), and the editor of the FringeArts booklet and blog.