"When we hug we slide." High rises, sudden drops. Long limbs, deep backbends. Quick turns, big jumps. These dancers move viscerally and emotionally, sweating from start to finish of each rehearsal. Close by and circling the group is choreographer Ami Mattison, who is magnetized by the energy and intensity in the room.
Background + Inspiration
Born and raised in Michigan, Ami pursued a professional dance career in New York and later moved to Los Angeles where she founded her contemporary jazz company, Mattidance, in 2014. For DRC’s Home Grown @ Bootleg, Ami is actualizing an idea that’s been marinating for some time. This new body of work is based on deviations of ‘normal’ behavior. Her interest in psychology combined with personal experience questions the limits of behavior, ranging from: repetitive thoughts, body issues, delusions, internal voices, and more. “When is it considered a clinical disorder?” she asks. Where do we draw the line – and at what point is it too much, and out of the scope of normalcy?
Best of Both Worlds
Ami is choreographically interested in integrating strong technique with pedestrian movement and deep passion portrayed by the dancers. As I sat in on a rehearsal, I saw she incorporates a sense of urgency within her work too, which I later surmised is influenced by years of working in competition dance. She’s used to contributing to three shows per season, generating material regularly and rapidly for various performances and competitions. “It’s like signing up for a 5K marathon,” she tells me. Meaning it ensures you run everyday because an achievement/ accomplishment is there to greet you on the other end.
Having grown up dancing competitively myself, I wondered what, based on her experience, positively stands out about the competition dance scene. She told me she appreciates the drive and versatility among the dancers she teaches. She’s also noticed how a reward based system in the hard working environments of commercial and competition dance can instill a rigor in dancers she has the pleasure of working with. And it’s true, even during rehearsal, her dancers dance fully and feel want to drip with sweat.
In her experience, she's seen that the genre she primarily works in (contemporary jazz) is well represented in commercial dance, but less apparent in concert dance. Not wanting to be limited by creating one-time pieces only comprised of aesthetically beautiful movement, Ami also wants to bring more complex ideas to life in concerts and long format performances. Developing an idea for DRC’s Home Grown @ Bootleg has offered a fresh sense of spaciousness to Ami’s creative process as she blends the best of both worlds in which she intends to keep immersing herself as a Los Angeles based choreographer.
By J. Alex Mathews
Associate Director, Director of Programming