Excerpt from Life Size (1994) by Hilary Easton from Danspace Project on Vimeo.
Hilary Easton on Life Size (1994)
Life Size premiered at the Danspace Project almost 20 years ago, in April of 1994, when my company was just a couple of years old. The work was commissioned by Danspace, and I developed the movement specifically with St. Mark’s Church in mind. The dance’s primary theme is an examination of scale: both artistically and professionally, if one can separate the two. The movement contrasts lots of small, specific details and gestures (shrugs, waves, shimmies) with big lush movement and much traveling through space, courtesy of the setting. There are projections by photographer Joshua McHugh on an upstage screen that do the same, showing us details like a spoon in a glass, a door handle, or a foot and a knee, vying with images of big sky, trees, industrial structures and more.
At that time I was thinking a great deal about issues of scale—both aesthetically as an artist and pragmatically as a company director. My young dance company was being offered engagements in, and I was getting commissions from, much larger venues—settings that required me to adjust to larger stages with audiences farther removed from the action. Concurrently, I was coming to terms with the ways the company was growing. Life Sizereflected all of this: it was my first time choreographing to a big symphonic score (Mendelssohn’s Symphony #8), the costumes, by my friend and long-time collaborator Cynthia Rowley, were suitably glitzy, and the work was by far the most movement-centric piece I had ever made.
St. Mark’s Church, with its performance space both soaring yet intimate, made the perfect venue for the work. It’s a treat to re-visit the piece, after not viewing it for many years: the dancers look terrific (you may recognize a number of them from more recent work with me and others, along with their own choreographic projects), and the piece’s tight structure makes me very proud. While my work has matured considerably since then, to this day I am addressing issues that came to light in the creation of Life Size.
—Hilary Easton, 2013