2015 Lab Artist: Wally Cardona
Wally Cardona is a choreographer who is deeply interested in the place of dance in our culture – where it is and why it is. Dance being the main motor of his thought process, Cardona actively creates projects for his dance practice that mutate in proximity to others, resulting in collaborations that are intimate and crowded, strange and seemingly unrelated.
Cardona’s current work, THE SET UP, is a multi-year project that starts with an encounter through dance. The project explores questions of appropriation, contemporary practice, and received politics. Created in collaboration with choreographer Jennifer Lacey, THE SET UP is a series of eight dance works made in partnership with eight international artists viewed as “masters” of existent dance forms, as well as multiple contemporary dancers, composers and musicians. In THE SET UP, Cardona and Lacey are displacing their contemporary dance practice by living temporarily within a tradition of mastery, putting their own cultural motor of doubt in relation to one operating under "belief.”
As part of THE SET UP: Saya Lei, Cardona has traveled to Myanmar to study with Saya Lei, a master of classical Burmese Mandalay style of dancing. His training continued at VPL in March 2015 when Myint Mo, a disciple of Saya Lei, came to Vermont to work with Cardona.
In May 2015 Cardona returned to Vermont with U.S. based collaborators to transmit his version of the dance, melding it with his own contemporary Western dance practices to create a response to the encounter with Saya Lei. The resulting dance was then presented to the master for their personal/cultural reading, interpretation, and opinion to be solicited. The final dance that comes out of this dialogue will be presented as an autonomous performance called THE SET UP: Saya Lei. VPL audiences had the opportunity to see first-hand the “training” period and the full arc of the project during a work-in-progress presentation at VPL’s Open Lab.