Since 2005, dancer and choreographer Megan V. Sprenger and her MVworks company have been exploring the relationship between audience and performer, individuality and personal identity, and the making of connections in today’s world, drawing on inspiration from such visual artists as Gregory Crewdson and Jacob Landau and such mathematicians as Blaise Pascal and Fibonacci. In her first evening-length piece, 2007’s quietly affecting No where, Sprenger incorporated Pascal’s triangle both thematically and structurally, built around three woman dancers moving within a confined space. Two years later, Sprenger went in a different direction with the immersive, explosive . . . within us., in which four dancers interacted with the audience members first by speaking with them, then charging around them in a flurry of energy. Sprenger, who has also choreographed and performed such solo pieces as One-Shot, While Waiting, and Direction Lost, will be holding the world premiere of her third evening-length piece, Flutter, this week at the Chocolate Factory in Long Island City, examining abstract and non-narrative methods of storytelling through movement and sound. Between preparing for that and working in public relations, the always amiable and charming Sprenger took time out to discuss her creative process and more with twi-ny.
twi-ny: For Flutter, you developed movements that were very particular to the unique personalities of each of the four performers. You’ve worked with Tara O’Con since 2007, while Donna Cicchesi, Michael Ingle, and Anna Adams Stark are new to MVworks. What was that process like, especially because you are much more familiar with one of the dancers than the others?
Megan V. Sprenger: One of the most fascinating and rewarding aspects of making this work has been getting to know all of the dancers better. Regardless of how long I’ve known or worked with each of them, the process of making their “mini movement biographies” was the same. Each of the dancers was asked to improvise for a set amount of time that varied slightly per rehearsal. This process resulted in hours of footage that I culled down into four-to-five-minute solos that became the base for the work.
twi-ny: In most of your pieces, including Flutter, the dancers perform to silence or to avant-garde soundscapes, never to more traditional songs or music. Is that something you consciously set out to do with each new dance? How would you describe the role of music/sound in your creative process?
Megan V. Sprenger: Working with original sound is a critical part of my process. Jason Sebastian and I have worked together since 2007, and with each process we begin by discussing the inspiration and tone of the work and then decide what we think might be the best general direction for the composition. It’s true that both No where and …within us. utilized more of an environmental soundscape; however, for this work we decided that we wanted something more melodic and the result is a composition that is much more instrumental than what you might expect.
twi-ny: For many years you worked in the marketing department of Dance Theater Workshop and then New York Live Arts, specifically promoting dance. You’re now at a company that handles much more than just dance. What has that experience been like?
Megan V. Sprenger: What I love most about working at Polskin Arts & Communications Counselors is how much I am learning about other artistic fields such as music, visual art, and architecture. It has been extremely rewarding to see how what I know about dance is transferable and at the same time to be learning more about other genres.
twi-ny: In 2006, 2008, and 2010 you performed solo pieces, and in 2011 you participated in Bill T. Jones’s Continuous Replay at New York Live Arts. Are you getting the urge to get back on stage yourself? Might you be working on something you will perform in?
Megan V. Sprenger: I haven’t decided what will be next for me artistically. Making work for yourself can be a tricky business, though I love performing and I do miss it. Who knows, a short solo for myself isn’t out of the question.
twi-ny: You’ve now been involved in the New York City dance world for ten years. What are some of the most important changes you’ve noticed over the last decade? One thing that strikes me is how the internet has come into play; for example, people can go to your website and follow the progress of Flutter, as you’ve posted videos of a number of rehearsals going back nearly a year.
Megan V. Sprenger: Over the past ten years the internet has definitely played an increased role in the dance industry. In particular, crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and RocketHub and video sharing websites like Vimeo and YouTube have changed the way dances are made, promoted, and shared. I would also add that popular culture interest in dance through television shows like So You Think You Can Dance have significantly shifted how dance is viewed and appreciated across the country.
twi-ny: In your free time, if you have any, do you try to keep up with what’s going on in the dance world, or do you prefer to see other types of art and live performance?
Megan V. Sprenger: I try to see as many dance performances as possible. That’s honestly one of the things I miss most about working at New York Live Arts, where I was constantly exposed to new work and artistic voices.
twi-ny: Are there any companies that you consider a must-see?
Megan V. Sprenger: Must-sees? That’s a really hard question. I suppose I would just encourage people to try something new. I vary rarely regret going to a show that I know very little about or created by an artist I am not familiar with.