Go Deeper

Marina Libel and The Supervisors

Posted April 30th, 2013

“If you think of a gesture as a word or of a dialogue as a movement phrase, the performance can open up new possibilities.”

THe name of this artists is Marina Libel. Photo: Joshua Simpson.

The name of this artist is Marina Libel. Photo: Joshua Simpson.

Here comes Marina! On May 13 and 14, FringeArts presents our second annual Jumpstart, a showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013 will feature six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. So we turn with Marina Libel, who will be performing her new work The Supervisors with Sarah Gladwin Camp.

Marina is a performance maker, artist, and scholar originally from Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her collaboratively created dance theater works explore relations among the body, language, and the spaces both inhabit. Her choreographies of movement and text have been performed at Williamsburg Arts neXus, Dance New Amsterdam, Galapagos Art Space, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and Movement Research’s Open Performance.

FringeArts: Why is your show title The Supervisors?

Marina Libel: Several years ago, I was making a piece about “women’s work.” And I was pulling a lot of images and text from World War II, Rosie the Riveter type women, from Studs Terkel interviews, and so on. But I also decided to write some of my own texts about jobs that were more fantastical, like the supervisors. That used elements from real jobs—helicopter pilots, managers, people who regulate or survey—but also had elements that weren’t possible in real life, but only in imagination. And I liked the pattern that developed as I wrote it, how it bounced back and forth between the two supervisors, and how much their partnership was emphasized in the content and form—because I love collaboration in performance-making. So the piece is as much about the labor of dance/theater as about the labor of the supervisors. And I’ve realized while working on it that a lot of what they [the supervisors] say they do—”tweak things” “just trying to help the balance” “trying to alter somebody’s day a bit”—is what the piece is trying to do as a work of art.

Working gal of World War II.

Working gal of World War II.

FringeArts: Where did you grow up?

Marina Libel: I was born in Brazil, then I lived in Panama, and came to the U.S., suburbs of Maryland near Washington, DC, when I was eight. That’s where I spent the rest of my childhood. So, my experience of that place was less about the town itself and more about being from another place that was different, culturally and geographically. But I feel both very American and Brazilian.

FringeArts: How did you go about creating this piece?

Marina Libel: Sometimes I start with text, sometimes with movement. In this case it was text. I had the dialogue between the two women and the little steps they do while talking that match and support [the dialogue] when Sarah [Gladwin Camp] came in. So together, we created gestures for each of those lines of text and wove them together to make phrases. That helped us establish a shared movement vocabulary, because we were learning each other’s gestures. We also developed other footwork/floor pattern sequences that sweep over the space. After we had all these separate pieces, I mapped them out and organized them. Then we could work on making it super precise, which is a big part of what makes The Supervisors click and of these characters’ personalities.

FringeArts: How did the combination of gesture, dialogue and choreography become the way for you to express yourself artistically?

Marina Libel: In The Supervisors, we had to embody the machine we’re in—the helicopter—and actually be in it. And express who the characters are and how they function as people. We needed both movement and text to do that, there is no other way. It often goes like that for me. I don’t necessarily start out saying I have to have gesture, dialogue, and choreography but I usually end up with some combination of the three. If you think of a gesture as a word or of a dialogue as a movement phrase, the performance can open up new possibilities and very often reveal something very real about human beings that would never be revealed in an ordinary interaction.

FringeArts: How do you like to spend your last 15 minutes before showtime?

Marina Libel: With the other performers, moving through the piece in the usually tiny space backstage. Trying to have fun. I also repeatedly adjust and check my costume even if it’s just sweats, probably because of nerves.

Thanks Marina, looking forward to The Supervisors!

Monday May 13 + Tuesday May 14 at 7pm
Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
$18 / $12 Students + 25 and under

–Josh McIlvain