Say It: Bound

Choreographer and Ballet Mistress Julie Niekrasz provides us with the answers to your questions on her upcoming Say It piece, Bound. Julie covers the art of embracing, socially-distanced choreography, and freeing yourself from restraint. Bound is coming to digital devices Tuesday, February 16th at 7pm.

Choreographer Q&A with Julie Marie Niekrasz:

Tell us about Bound and why this piece is different from others you’ve choreographed.

I think we all felt bound throughout the pandemic - bound to our homes or apartments.

You see that play out in the choreography. The dancers are physically bound to their chair and break free of that throughout the piece. The setting ends as the dancers freely move outdoors through Overton Park.

This physical idea of being unbound might even be a thought, a dream or a wish; I’ll leave that up to the audience.

How do you personally relate to Bound during the pandemic?

For starters, everything was on Zoom or staring at your TV. But it wasn’t just the pandemic that changed things, we also had the Black Lives Matter Movement of which I believe was the best thing to have happened to 2020. I felt as a white woman emotionally stuck and bound. I was stuck in my house and wanted to support, but I didn’t know how. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to stand up, kneel, speak out or shut up.. I believed so deeply in the movement though that I wanted to speak up. I didn’t feel safe protesting due to the pandemic, so I was told to listen and educate myself. That’s what I did, though I still have a long way to go.

As Ballet Mistress, has it been difficult being mindful of physical space between dancers due to health regulations?

Bound is an entirely socially-distanced dance with the only partnering happening between two roommates. I had long conversations with both of the dancers to make sure they felt comfortable touching. It’s funny...I first envisioned the piece without masks. Then, we were forced to rehearse and perform in a mask at all times. I incorporated this into the work with one of the dancers pulling her mask down to represent the frustration and tension of wearing it day-in and day-out.

What inspired the music you selected?

I wanted to use a composer of color. I found Joseph Bologne, a classical composer from the 1700s. I was familiar with his work, but I specifically fell in love with the upbeat, though even-keel music chosen. I felt it had a sweet sound to it.

Where did you film Bound and what was it like personally filming your piece?

I filmed the entirety of Bound on my iPhone, the first iPhone I’ve ever owned. The outdoors scenes were tough to film. It was pretty impossible to see due to the glare and turns out, my finger was in the frame half the time.

Some of it was filmed in my backyard and some captured in two different parts of Overton Park--the bridge in the golf course and grassy patch by the pond. Everyday people were walking their dogs in the background wondering what we were up to. I loved being outdoors for that portion of the piece though. There is such a free feeling to it.

Julie Marie Niekrasz, Choreographer
This physical idea of being unbound might even be a thought, a dream or a wish; I’ll leave that up to the audience.​

What will the audience take away from your performance?

Bound might take you back in time to the last year’s summer months. You visually go from black and white to color to represent the transition of feeling trapped indoors to breaking free. This metaphor of being stuck mimics that of Wizard of Oz and the color contrast that takes place in that performance.

You’ll also hear words and phrases recorded by the dancers throughout the piece. “Stand up”, “sit down”, “speak louder”; all these phrases that are contradictory. That’s the difficulty of the whole thing. There’s a lot to relate to here in this piece. The audience can take away what they want to take away from it.

Why do you think now is such an important time for creativity?

With any art, you’ll find things that are relatable. It’s like a horoscope reading. Whatever you’re seeking to find in that art piece, you’ll make it make sense to you.

Also, one of the great things to come from this time is that we’ve finally seen the importance of art. We suffer as a community and as a species without it. Art is truly imperative.