MORAPORVIDA CONTEMPORARY DANCE
Jacob Mora, Artistic Director of Moraporvida Contemporary Dance, knows Denver’s dance scene from the inside out. As a dancer and/or instructor with organizations such as Cleo Parker Robinson, Hannah Kahn Dance, Santee Smith Group, and Sweatshop Dance, he helps make more space for the dance community. He views his participation in the Presenting Denver Dance Festival as a way to raise awareness of both Moraporvida and the diverse dance talent along the Front Range. “Dance,” he says, “is high art. And it’s under fire.” The company performed a world premiere titled With or Without at The Newman Center for the Performing Arts as part of the festival’s presentation of New & Now.
Mora begins the creative process with an idea and searches for anything and everything that informs that idea. He says he defines, interprets, redefines, and then re-interprets. The choreographic process is continual. “Subtext,” he says, “is the perfect word for what I do. It’s like defining chemistry with someone.” Getting at what’s underneath the idea, the causality of what happens in the “in between,” drives Mora’s choreographic process. He’s interested in the undercurrents, the unspoken, the underbelly. He strives to elucidate the emotional center by speaking metaphorically. Even with his social justice work, Mora says he tackles the emotional perspective first and political second. With or Without investigates place, the acts of treading and stepping, watchfulness. He says, “Where kings tread, they bring royalty. Where burns tread, they bring pain.” Thematically, he sees the piece as an exploration of vulnerability.
Mora uses music as a jumping-off point for the movement. He creates his own score by mixing and melding sounds starting with up to 30 different pieces before narrowing it down to three or four that represent the piece. He approaches sound and movement through a kind of synesthesia, asking “How does emotion sound?” He calls the process heady, meditative, tricky, artful. He produces, creates, and performs with multiple bands across the genres of hip hop, electronic, and avant-garde music.
When selecting dancers for the festival and for the company, Mora looks for those with well-rounded, diverse backgrounds because his work melds modern, contemporary, and urban styles of dance. He wants dancers with experience that has “stained [them] in the right way.” He looks for dancers with a certain mental and emotional perspective, those without limitations. He seeks dancers with a willingness to be part of the experience and a lack of ego. He looks for dancers who are skilled but who can also take suggestions, as his movement is not easy and his choreographic process includes exploration, challenge, and trial and error. He says his dancers must have a spiritual and mental resilience and bring their own energy to the work. “If you’re coming with smoothness, I’m coming with steel,” Mora says, “If you’re coming with steel, I’m coming with butter.”
Moraporvida was stunning in action at The Newman Center. Don’t miss another opportunity to experience Moraporvida; you might leave stained in the right way yourself.
Deanne Gertner: A Colorado native, Deanne Gertner is a graduate from Regis University and the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently sits on the board of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop and was previously involved with CultureHaus, the Denver Art Museum’s young professionals’ group. Her writing has appeared in DailyServing, Quaint Magazine, and Scintilla. She is currently at work on a collection of essays about family dynamics in addition to editing a newspaper/zine about happiness for Denver Theatre District’s Happy City project with U.K. artist Stuart Semple.