Greg Dorado (Photo by: Lola Venado)
Who: Greg Dorado
What: Dancer and Artistic Director of SHIFT
Where: Lower Garden District
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: At his kitchen table with essential oils cooking on the stove
Q: What is one of the most difficult expressions to translate?
A: Oh, wow. In regard to the process of making our piece “And the Stars Look Very Different Today” under the performance collective, SHIFT, the most difficult expression to translate has been performance itself. We’re asking a lot of questions about what you perform in your daily life and how you reframe that. This show is about death. The fact that we walk around with this commonality. We all know that we’re going to die, so you go forward in your life based off what you think is going to happen after death.
If you want to deny it’s going to happen or embrace death, there’s a performative element in reaction to that. How do you live and what do you essentially perform for people? Do you remind people of death every day? Do you just do your shopping and buy melons when they’re half price and act like everything is normal?
So how can you translate performance in a performance? What we’re doing in “And the Stars Look Very Different Today,” is trying to not approach the question directly but rather focus on responses. Focus on our normal everyday output and relate that back to the fact that you and everything around us is going to reach entropy one day. It’s all going to stop.
When you’re faced with whether to buy dark chocolate or white chocolate…well, it’s all going to be gone one day.
Even the cast for the piece isn’t translatable. Since SHIFT is a performance collective, there’s a lot of diversity in it. Some of the cast members are mothers. Some are young people just out of college. So you get this great dynamic of people who are maternal and get questions asked of them by their children about death versus the people who are living in that I’m young and vibrant and feel a little bit immortal right now. And then everything between those two points is included.
We’re really like spaghetti noodles against the wall and seeing what sticks.
Q: What dance move do you most often find yourself doing when you’re alone?
A: [Laughing] You know, I once had a friend tell me that all of my movements are crotch-oriented. I would say they’re ‘grounded,’ but I guess they’re ‘grounded’ in the crotch.
I just have this very centered place that is…well, I guess the polite way of saying it is ‘hip oriented.’ I feel a lot of what we do as human beings, including our ideas, come out of that place. We eat. We poop. It’s where we’re born from. There’s just a lot of returning to that place for me, I guess.
Q: What kind of band would you start if you could instantly have all the talent needed to start the band?
A: Oh, a punk band. I would scream a lot and not necessarily play the guitar but break a lot of them.
I love disruption so much, and I love collective disruption. When people are behind an idea and coming from a place that’s somewhat animalistic. Something that’s coming from your limbic system instead of your pre-frontal cortex.
The sound. The action. There’re so many things revolutionary and evolutionary that have started from that place. This congregation of people coming together and deciding that this one thing needs to change.
I tell myself constantly that I always wanted to be a musician, but I was never really afforded the opportunities or the time for lessons when I was younger. I think I became a dancer because it got me closer to the music. It got me into a more integrated relationship with music.
Q: What do you do when you don’t excel at something that you think you should be good at?
A: I try even harder every time I go back to it. When I do fail at something, I doggedly pursue it until I’m at least manageable at it. That way I don’t feel like I failed at it, which is interesting because I’m always telling people in my class that they should mess up. That way they know their limits and know when they’re off balance. One of the only ways to find balance is to find the edge of where you fall off.
I’ve tried to tell myself that I’m not learning unless I’m messing up, so I try to search for activities that I’m not great at it. Almost to a maniacal degree. This is probably why I have so many reference books.
It definitely comes with costs. Moving to New Orleans was a huge change for me. I left my boyfriend, Andrew, back in L.A., and he comes to visit me when he can. I mean, there are times when I ask myself why didn’t you get a business degree. These challenges are not always easy, but they’re definitely worth it.
Q: If you had to put someone else’s photo on your business card, who would you choose?
A: That’s harder than the rest of them. Huh. I would [laughing], okay, it would have to be Neil deGrasse Tyson—the scientist. He’s coming here on the 11th and 12th, and I really want him to come see the show. He totally is able to translate the feeling of awe that I felt when I was learning about science, and he’s able to make that feeling accessible to a lot of people. I love that he’s able to translate these giant concepts.
Either that, or the two-hundred-year-old Galapagos turtles. They’d be on my business card. They amble around being a part of everything like, did I find a pumpkin to eat today? Good, now I don’t have to eat for another six months. There are only a few creatures that can experience deep time, and I highly admire that. Maybe that’s the secret to long life—not being aware of time.
Greg Dorado teaches a company dance class at Dancing Grounds from 11:00 AM-12:15 PM. His new performance “And the Stars Look Very Different Today” is SHIFT’s first performance, and it will be running from November 12 th-15 th and November 19th-22nd at Mags (940 Elysian Fields). Check the Eventbrite and Facebook page to purchase tickets and check the times for performances.