CounterPointe Choreographer, Morgan McEwen, talks about choreography

The Second Annual CounterPointe performances will feature the work of seven women choreographers, all who make work on pointe. In the lead up to the performances, Norte Maar is posting interviews with each choreographer.

Morgan McEwen, ballerina turned artistic director launched MorDance in January of 2013. MorDance premiered at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center on May 3rd, 2013 and recently had the opportunity to perform at Socrates Sculpture Park as part of Dance at Socrates produced by Norte Maar.  Morgan performed as a dancer with Gleich Dances in CounterPointe 2012. It is exciting to bring her back as a choreographer in 2013.

MorganClaireHeadshot copy

Why do you create for pointe work? I am still very much an active dancer in addition to choreographing and it is in the pointe shoe that I find my strength and resolve.  As a choreographer I find extreme freedom in making works on pointe.  There is such an expanded realm for movement on pointe.  On the other hand, there are obvious challenges as well but I feel those complications add to the finesse of dancing on pointe.

What has been your biggest challenge? As I choreographer of mainly works on pointe there are technical challenges in having dancers on pointe. I like to look at each of those obstacles as gifts for me to create something that is possible but on the verge ofimpossible. To simply be able to do steps on pointe takes years of training, strength, and athleticism.  I don’t want my dancers to just do steps I want them to move, to dance, and to explore boundaries.

Which female choreographers do you look to as role models or inspiration? If I were to be one hundred percent candid and someone were to ask me this question, three or four male names would roll off my tongue.  I would then pause and realize the question was gender specific to females and not choreographers as a whole. As a young female choreographer I blush a bit at saying that.  When given a second to further think about the question, instead of speaking on impulse, I would have to acknowledge our matriarch and trail blazer, Marie Sallé, who is credited with being the first female ballet choreographer.  I also look to her as a role model as she was the first female dancer to choreograph ballets that she danced herself.  This is something that I have done and enjoy doing when given the time to act as both choreographer and dancer.  If I move into more contemporary times I have to note Pina Bausch as a driving and inspiring force in the field of female choreography.  When watching her work I see the influence on many of the great works I have admired and performed by other choreographers.  At the present I can’t go without noting Amy Seiwert the choreographer in residence at Smuin Ballet.  As of recent a few females have stepped into roles as artistic directors of ballet companies but she is one of the first to take the helm as a resident choreographer.  This is a role she more than deserves. Her movement and work is pivotal and speaks for itself. She is a choreographer who uses movement to tell a story, express emotion, and captivate audiences not with gimmicks and flash.  She is truly a breath of fresh air in the dance community.


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