CounterPointe Choreographer, Sheena Annalise, 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.

Sheena Annalise, artistic director of Arch Contemporary Ballet, is praised for her ground breaking process for creating new work. Annalise’s repertory is choreographed in silence and is completely set before bringing in a composer to study her work. In collaboration with high caliber composers, original compositions are then created to Annalise’s finished piece. In past years ACB has presented at the Paramount Theatre in Boston,  Marlene Boll Theatre in Detroit, Cowell Theatre in San Francisco alongside Lines Ballet Training, San Jose State University’s Theatre in San Jose, CA, Secret Theatre, John Ryan Theatre, Alvin Ailey Citi Group Theatre in New York, and more.

Sheena Annlise1Why do you create for pointe work? I create work on pointe because of the challenge and beauty a pointe shoe brings to a piece. The beautiful line, extended from a dancers leg and continued by her pointe shoe, creates a never ending illusion with perfect technique and beauty. When choreographing on pointe, I am constantly redefining boundaries and challenging my dancer’s balance using classical technique to create new limitless movement. These challenges become very rewarding when you create new work with movement that has never been seen before, which is why Arch Contemporary Ballet pieces are so intricate to watch.

What has been your biggest challenge? My biggest challenge in creating new work is patience. My process, which involves choreographing everything in silence before bringing in a composer to study and create an original composition to the work, is a lengthy and rewarding one. It takes time to build a piece on its own, creating rhythms, tempos, melodies, and paces with just silence. Thus when you add in a new factor of collaborating with a composer, you are creating an entirely new work. The music completely transitions the piece. Sometimes it reflects my initial concept for the piece and sometimes it takes it in an entirely new direction that I end up loving. At the end of the day, being patient with the direction my piece is going in is my biggest challenge.

Which female choreographers do you look to as role models or inspiration? Martha Graham is one choreographer to whom I look for inspiration. Even as a modern choreographer her Graham technique exudes a lot of movement that I am personally drawn too. From my work, you can see how I use Graham technique to infuse into my ballets, prominently her C Curve, and I also use release techniques that come in abundance in many if not all of my pieces.

Sheena Annlise


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