by Aiano Nakagawa
"Wax Poet(s) is an arts and performance collective born out of the desire to create and the love of collaboration. Founded in the principles of dance and movement, our work begins with the body and ends with the audience. We create art utilizing the unique talents of our contributing artists comprised of musicians, dance artists, choreographers, writers, visual artists, designers and poet(s)."
Over the past three months I've had the honor of getting to create with Heather Stockton, Garth Grimball, and Jeanette Male co founders of Wax Poet(s) a Bay Area art and performance collective. I got to chat with them about their company, how they support each other, and their upcoming show, Shouting Through a Window Between Worlds, which premieres Friday March 4th at Joe Goode Annex in San Francisco. Ticket information available below.
AN: Why was Wax Poet(s) created? What makes Wax Poet(s) different than other “dance companies?”
GG: Wax Poet(s) was created as a laboratory for collaboration. I can’t speak on behalf of the processes of other dance companies, but our process allows everyone to contribute, which at times can be a blessing and a burden, depending on the day and how you’re feeling about collaborating.
HS: In addition to what Garth said, there was (and is) a hope to help facilitate experiences for other artists to create and show work. That WPs could act as an umbrella for artists from multiple disciplines to unite in conversation and practice.
JM: Exactly. We had hoped to use our company as a way to connect with other artists of all kinds of mediums, and to not only support our community, but to collectively combine our perspectives in interesting ways. It helps us stretch ourselves (bad pun, not intended) as dancers and choreographers and keeps our creative process fresh.
AN: What do you hope Wax Poet(s) will offer the greater community?
GG: Ultimately I hope we can offer joy and discourse to the community.
HS: I hope that WPs provide a platform for shared and singular experiences. I hope that the conversations that are generated amongst collaborators while in process, that seem to dig into the core of different truths, will inspire conversations outside of the process and into the greater community.
JM: Heather and Garth say it best:)
AN: Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming show, Shouting Through A Window Between Worlds?
GG: This is our first evening length piece. The concept was born out of reading Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree and learning about the research of Guy Debord on psychogeography. We aim to create work that endorses each performer to dance with complete honesty and showcase how identities are created and transferred through this physical manifestation. There are 16 dancers, 6 musicians, and visual media.
HS: Each dance artist was asked to create a solo based off of a shared prompt. This prompt was on vertical and horizontal identity. I feel that in digging into their own experiences and conversations of identity, these artists have created pieces that are simply stunning. There is a purity and richness within each and every solo that is something to behold. I feel so grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to work with such thoughtful, unique, and talented individuals.
I also feel incredibly fortunate to be working with each of the musicians. They are all so generous and gracious with their talents and intuitive sound scapes.
AN: What do each of you bring to the table and how do your strengths support your overall vision?
GG: Heather, Jeanette, and I are all very passionate about dance and creating new dance with all of its splendor and frustrations. In my mind, we each have several defining features that compliment the overall vision. Put simply, Heather embodies patience, Jeanette has laser focus, and I plan long-term. No matter what we just love each other a whole lot.
HS: I second Garth here. There is a whole lotta love, and that is very important. I think that an overall strength that we have as a team is our history. We know each other very well, each other’s strengths and what we are working on as individuals. This provides a synergy that allows projects and experiences to happen. We support, encourage and challenge each other in ways that ultimately promotes growth and productivity.
JM: Heather and I have known each other for about seven years now, and we both met Garth at the same time, about five years ago. A LOT has happened over those years, and it’s true that we all know each other very well and deeply care for one another. We respect and recognize each other's strengths and hold each other together when things get tough, as they always do in creating and producing work. Heather, as artistic director, definitely shapes our ideas about upcoming projects, she brought us together for lunch the day Wax Poet(s) was formed. I am super organized and I love clipboards so managing the logistics of production usually falls to me. Garth does see our future. He thinks ahead, handles much of our grant writing and fundraising, and often will submit our work for other venues when we are not working on our annual show. But ultimately, we three are dancers and we live in our bodies. We connect the best and find joy always when we are in the studio together.
For more information about Wax Poet(s) please visit their website: http://www.wax-poets.com/