Recently, ARCOS Director Erica Gionfriddo dove into collaborative experimentation with Austin’s Breaking String Theater Company! Erica has choreographed for Graham Schmidt’s Gusev, a dance-inflected adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s short story of the same name. Gusev tells the story of a young army private, recently discharged, on a voyage home from his posting in Siberian coast. This fantastic interview with Gabrielle Randle (excerpt below) provides a glimpse into Erica’s dance theater exploration and reveals her versatility and mastery of the directorial craft.
GR: Gusev’s narratives about life, death and the meaning of suffering are universal, but also deeply personal. What in particular about this story sticks with you? (What was your most poignant source of inspiration?)
EG: Two images or ideas struck me in the first read and have stayed with me throughout. First, that in the end, no matter the course of our lives, the actions we take, the people we love, or those we harm, we all are alone in the moment of death. Those surrounded by loved ones and those on a battlefield across an ocean have the same experience in that one moment. It’s an incredibly isolating yet unifying paradox. To this effect, the second image of the ship and the sea has been returned to over and over throughout the process. Both contain strength and vulnerability, peace and terror, refuge and destruction, the idea of equal and opposite forces was a rich place to draw from and return to in moments of uncertainty in rehearsal.
Erica is greatly honored to have been part of this production and found it a welcome opportunity for artistic development and a fantastic complement to her work with ARCOS Dance. Gusev runs August 13-29 at the Salvage Vanguard Theater on Manor Rd. More information and tickets available at Breaking String’s website and on the Gusev Facebook event page.