Meet the Artist: Connor Schumacher

Dance artist and artistic director Connor Schumacher is hosting Pilot PC in CT on November 6 and 7. He wants to bring people together who love to dance, move and be together. His own love for dancing and raving and especially the progressive queer rave scene is what he wants to convey with his social choreography. Everybody is welcome!

To get to know Connor a bit better and learn more about Pilot PC, we gave him a call!

Hello Connor!
What place do you call home? And where do you work?

I call Rotterdam home. I’ve been in Rotterdam for eleven years now. I’m from the US, but I moved around a lot as a child and in one more year The Netherlands and Rotterdam will be the longest time I’ve ever lived in one place. So yeah, I really do call Rotterdam home!

I work for my own Stichting, ARK Connor Schumacher, that was founded a year and a half ago. I’ll be connected with building my practice at Dansateliers in Rotterdam and making performances with Theater Babel, which is an inclusive theater company. It’s made up of people with disabilities, both mental and physical. They’re asking me to build an inclusive practice there and make social choreographies with them. So that’s basically what I do now, I don’t make stage theater performances, but I make social choreographies.

How would you define that term, social choreographies?

You can also call it immersive dance performances or participatory dance theatre. Anything where we work on social agency together in a space.

Why are you keen on having the audience participate?

Actually, I was telling a friend of mine last night… Dance didn’t change my life because I watched it. Dance changed my life because I did it. And that’s the best thing I can do. Try to change dance from being performance art to being an applied art form. That is kind of the goal.

That’s beautiful! Can you tell us what ARK stands for?

Ark stands for Anatomy Reframing Knowledge. For me, it also kind of reclaims the metaphor of the Ark from the bible: a mobile house that is supposed to survive and help living things survive natural disasters. There are more metaphors in the bible like the rainbow and the dove with the olive branch: the rainbow is now more associated with queerness and LGBTQIA+ than anything and the dove is an international symbol of peace. So this time, everybody is welcome at the Ark, instead of this binary, two of every kind thing. I think it’s time that we move beyond that.

And can you also say something about how Pilot PC was made?

The working title of Pilot PC was Still this is a concept. It was going to be the follow up of Funny, soft, happy and the opposites. I had told myself that this would be the last time that I would present something in this classic stage setting with the audience sitting and the performers dancing. The new concept was basically one large advertisement for making people want to move. So with this concept it would be the first time that we brought everybody into the performative space in the theater to move.

But then corona came. I had to think of what type of movement fills an 1,5-meter space with as much energy and potential as possible. I am a firm believer in raving and especially the progressive queer raving scene. And then I thought, of course, in 1,5-meter you can reach the heights of ecstasy at a rave. So slowly we designed this space so that people could warm up to themselves and shake shit up in their body again and at least share it in a room together, even at a distance, even with less people and I wove it together with this narrative of what it’s like for me to be at a rave for the first hour.

So would you say this show is part of a series?

A while back, through some research into an area of neuroscience, I decided that I was going to repeat the same metaphor principles in the practice until it creates culture. Until I have said it enough times with enough people. That we all group ourselves in the same physical behaviors and memories and experiences. That these things become habits and shared habits between humans become culture. And so actually, between Funny, soft, happy and the opposite and this other alter ego character that I have used the past 3,5 years, there are about nine performances where I use the same base principles and say them in every space possible. Everything opens and closes, your hands, your lungs, your heart, your mind, your memories, your experiences…

Everything in the known universe is made out of curves. Nothing is straight, not even your thoughts. Just to repeat this everywhere and through this basic framework you can go in any direction.

Where can we see more of you?

Right now we are finishing up the tour of Funny, soft, happy and the opposites and Pilot PC. Soon we will present a new production called Hold, which I am making in collaboration with people working in all kinds of disciplines and fields. It’s going to be about different forms of governance in space.

Get your tickets here for Pilot PC on the 6 or 7 November 2021.
Or follow ARK/Connor Schumacher on Instagram here.

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