We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Pearson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Bodies in Play was developed as a platform to create live performance experiences, with bodies as a focal point for creative expression. As with any performing arts production, being in close proximity with other bodies has always been a key element for both the process and presentation of the work. As I write this, in September of 2020, many of the projected projects for Bodies in Play have been placed on hold or sent back to the drawing board. The current health risks associated with bringing bodies together are simply too high to operate or create as originally intended. Prior to this pandemic, when thinking about risks in the performing arts, we often thought about creative risks in relation to the audience. If we make this choice, will people buy tickets? Will we get a good review? Will people be impacted? All of these are important questions to ask since as performers, our relationship to audience is symbiotic, but I’ve always also looked at risk from a more selfish point of view: How will these choices make me a better artist? Whenever I take on a new project, whether I’m the performer, creator, or producer, there has to be some element of fear involved for the work to feel worthwhile. There has to be some sense that I may not “get it” or achieve the desired result, and in many cases, I’ve failed. As a dancer, this may look like not quite landing that move I’ve been practicing or not quite hitting the musical timing as desired. As a choreographer it might look like overcomplicating the steps or creating something far too derivative and unoriginal. However it’s these failures that produce growth and allow me to take bigger risks in the next project. So now the question is, in the current climate, what scares me artistically? How do I support Bodies in Play in ways that keep my health and the health of my collaborators and audiences in mind while still stepping beyond my creative comfort zone? So far, the risks associated with the coronavirus have put me in a state of pause and reflection – failure, in this case, is not an opportunity for growth. Failure is simply not an option. Yet in a city and industry where popularity has often been a key factor in relevancy, to pause presents a slew of risks that scare me in ways I haven’t been scared before. Thankfully, if my past projects are any indication, this fear suggests I may find myself becoming a better artist on the other side. And that’s a risk worth taking.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Bodies in Play is much more of a concept or an approach, rather than a fully formed company. I work on a freelance, project to project basis as a teacher, creator, and performer. I specialize in collaborative processes with artists of different disciplines to create body-centric work and coach/direct movement for a variety of projects.
My teaching practice includes fitness classes; dance technique classes for beginners to professionals; and movement training for non-dance based performers like actors or singers.
As I creator, I work in theater, opera, concert dance, film and music video, and gallery exhibitions. I also create solo work that blends theater and dance through collaborations with musicians, writers, sound designers, and actors. My most recent evening length solo show has toured throughout the country and abroad.
My performance work mirrors that of my creative work. While the majority of my career has been spent in dance companies, I have always excelled at the more theatrical projects which has led to performances at The Ford Theater, the FIAC Art Faire in Paris, a video installation for Zhu at Coachella, and an opera with the LA Philharmonic.
As a choreographer and performer, I’m known for the way my work blends humor with sincerity and thoughtfulness. As a mover, I’m known for my use of subtlety combined with a physical virtuosity defined by fluidity and articulation. As a teacher, I’m known for clear direction, mental and physical challenges, and a calm demeanor.
Bodies in Play is still in its infancy, so I suppose I’m most proud of how much has been accomplished in the past year. Of course, much of this is the culmination of my career as a whole, but since launching Bodies in Play last October, my evening length solo has been presented at 3 new venues, and an excerpt of the work was presented at an international dance festival in Poland. But beyond the performance work, witnessing the growth of my students, both as artists and as people, is one of my biggest sources of pride.
Bodies in Play is currently in a time of pause and reflection. This excerpt from 2018 provides info about the origins of the work. Since the time this was written, Bodies in Play has gone on to produce two additional evening length live performances and we look forward to the day we can do so again.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To the directors, performers, and collaborators of LA Contemporary Dance Company, past and present, who helped me learn to value the beauty and opportunity in artistic risk taking. https://www.lacontemporarydance.org/
Photographers (listed in order from top to bottom image): Casey Kringlen, Brian Hashimoto, Drew Mandinach, Angel Miguel Reyes, Orange Cat Photography