Visiting Artist | Site Visit March 28 - 31 / May 6 - 17, 2019
Los Angeles-based choreographer Milka Djordjevich returned to MANCC following her March 28-31 site-visit to develop her latest work CORPS, which examines labor and the feminine body through the lens of regimented movement, and reveals similarities across traditional, militaristic, ritual, athletic, and folk movement forms. This residency built upon information gleaned through her site-visit in which she met with Sergeant Major Russell Brown, Senior Marine Instructor of JROTC at Leon High School. She also attended the Springtime Tallahassee Parade, as well as FAMU’s Green and Orange spring football game, which featured performances by The Marching 100 and FAMU Diamond Dancers.
CORPS is an evening-length work for six dancers and explores repetition and conformity in both individual and group formations. Inspired by the collectivity of large regimented group formations, from ballet to majorette lines, Djordjevich continues to examine how individualism becomes suppressed. Through repetition, she seeks to track how actions evolve and take on new meanings, exposing new perceptions of feminine forms. The work draws out the idiosyncratic and virtuosic potential of minimalistic forms by building complexity through composite patterns that mutate and evolve. The movement language blurs the distinction between codified/uncodified, male/female, ordinary/extraordinary, center/margin, authentic/inauthentic, and binary/non-binary. Over the course of the work, form is destabilized with increasingly complex and difficult movements, blurring the boundaries of perfection and failure. The goal is to reveal the cyclical feminine labor of regimented movement forms and the impossibility of replication and perfection, while illuminating an innate resistance to erasure.
As a continuation of her site-visit research, Djordjevich returned to Leon High School, this time with her collaborators where they all attended the JROTC course led by Sergeant Major Russell Brown and Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Reaves. Alongside students, the dancers learned basic drill commands and movements that they were then able to translate into their work in the studio. During this visit, Djordjevich met high school sophomore, Megan Steele, who is the student leader of the drill team. Djordjevich and Steele later met separately to further discuss the choreographic aspects of drill routines and Steele also attended Djordjevich’s open rehearsal.
Additionally, Djordjevich had the opportunity to meet with Dr. David Plack, Director of Athletic Bands at FSU. During their meeting, they discussed the choreography of marching bands, the theatricality of drum corps, and the ways in which these practices translate into contemporary choreographic practices.
In an effort to see an amplified version of the movement vocabulary, Djordjevich invited a group of seven FSU School of Dance students into rehearsal for a two hour block, during which they learned one of the work’s structures and its accompanying movement vocabulary.
Djordjevich and her collaborators presented the work in progress in the format of an open rehearsal within the School of Dance, followed by discussion.
As part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, writer Tim Reid joined Djordjevich and her collaborators. Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this initiative is designed to support the re-imagining of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms.
CORPS is set to premiere in Los Angeles in 2020 with additional performances at New York Live Arts in New York City.
Djordjevich’s site-visit was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.