Santa Fe native Eleanor Bauer is a PhD candidate in choreography at Sweden's Stockholm University of the Arts. A performer as well, Bauer's new work is a collaboration with filmmaker Matthew Barney (The Cremaster Cycle, River of Fundament); Redoubt shows at the Center for Contemporary Arts' The Screen on Sunday Dec. 22 at 3:30 pm ($12, 1600 St. Michael's Drive, 428-0209) followed by a conversation with Bauer and Sally Berger, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art. The film retells the myth of Diana and Actaeon in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains, and SFR spoke with Bauer to find out more about her choreography and how movement replaces language in the film.
What was your inspiration for the choreography in this film?
Matthew's original intention when he invited me to work on this film was to do a portrait of the landscape, specifically the Idaho Sawtooth mountain range. We both share coming from the Rockies. I'm from Santa Fe and he's from Idaho, so one of the original inspirations is this sense of scale of such a sublime landscape that really dwarfs the human perspective. For me there was a lot about seeing and hearing and humility in the human role in relation to the environment—such as the landscape, the conditions and the animals, especially the wolf.
There's a native hoop dancer in the film. Was that something you choreographed?
As a portrait of the landscape it was really important to include an Indigenous perspective in the film. We discussed how to do that in a way that wouldn't further marginalize the people native to Idaho. We wanted to include the character of a Native dancer who was also versed in contemporary form.[Matthew] found Sandra Lamoushe in Canada. She's a hoop dancer, which is a modern form of dance that takes from Indigenous symbols and movements and costuming. All of the dancer roles in the film were collaborative efforts between the dancer, me and Matthew. Choreography is very much about a negotiation between the person's own subjective experience of movement in their own body and their history and training in the context of the artwork we're making.
In the film you take the movement outside. Was that a challenge in the winter?
The conditions were crazy and unpredictable. I knew the human scale and relationship to the environment was going to be a thing, but it became more of a thing everyday. The snow was different every day, so every single choreography we rehearsed, whether it was indoors or in the snow, we tried to be prepared for the conditions but there was no being prepared. We were always dancing with the conditions and there were always improvisational skills involved. It was performing live in that moment because we couldn't do another take. Once there were footprints in the snow it had to be over for continuity. Also, the layers of clothing and clumsy shoes and boots made it hard to be graceful.