Jody Oberfelder is very small and very strong—and a dance generation or two older than her live performers. She’s set herself, for this week’s run at the Joyce Soho, one of the trickiest challenges choreographers face: making a piece based on visual art. Her inspiration here is Marc Chagall. But, she says, “if people didn’t know it was based on Chagall, it wouldn’t bother me.”
“Making a dance is always about moving energy,” she observes, describing the way this one is being assembled. “lt’s very layered, with foreground and background, dealing with midlife and end-of-life, hope and despair. It has a big range of human spirit, from really gay to really melancholy—holding on to memory, dreams, to each other.” It also has a new dancer, Peter Sciscioli, who happens to play the violin, adding an authentic frisson of melody to Oberfelder’s interpretations of Chagall’s imagery. The choreographer can be found in her signature position: standing on her head.
“The things that come to the foreground in our memory are the things that are really important,” she muses after a rehearsal. “I wanted to mold the things we remember between people. It’s not surreal, but it’s subliminal—the dream you don’t want to end, which is life.”