Kate Corby plumbed the darkest chapters of human history for her evening-length dance “In Whole or in Part, ” which takes its title from the UN definition of genocide: “a series of acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” Corby spoke about the evolution and future of the work via phone.
What drew you to the subject of brutality and genocide for a dance?
I was working in Budapest in 2006. That synagogue is the largest in Europe. It’s hard to ignore the history of the Holocaust—there are almost ghosts and a feeling of heaviness. A friend and I went to Krakow and Auschwitz in 2006. I was more struck by the bare bones approach to it: the rooms and rooms of pilfered belongings and hair. One of my friends was living in Rwanda in 2007; I wanted to learn about where she was and the history of that country. I picked Philip Gourevitch’s book “We Wish to Inform You Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families” which is an account of the Rwandan genocide. In 2010 I proposed a project that used these memes as a springboard for research. I started looking at empathy and biting off smaller chunks of concepts. I try to present this work as less a historical account of any particular genocide and more an exploration of themes: violence, aggression, indifference, empathy.
How does the video element contribute to the piece?
It’s really the eighth cast member. Orit’s work is visually striking, deep and saturated. We’ll project it in a three-quarter round, so it will be more environmental and the images will pass through the dancers more than in past performances.
The title has no small dose of irony. How did you come by it?
I usually struggle with titles, and I don’t remember when I decided on this, but it’s been the title from the beginning. Later we want to completely abstract the work and not give the audience any context for the title.
Why do you plan to abstract the subject?
It seems almost comical because I have no frame of reference or personal experience to connect me to this subject. Our goal is to raise questions about larger issues: about personal responsibility and community and aggression. The intention is to provide more entry points for the audience so they can connect. This will be interesting in a small space where you can see and perhaps feel the sweat of the dancers who are so committed that it would be hard for an audience member not to empathize and feel connection either emotionally, kinesthetically, or intellectually. (Sharon Hoyer)
At the Drucker Center, 1535 North Dayton, Friday and Saturday, September 14 and 15 at 8pm, Sunday, September 16 at 7pm. $15.