Fertile Ground 2011 is a ten-day arts festival celebrating new work by Portland artists. This year’s festival will feature over 50 Portland-generated new works, along with a myriad of other arts events from Portland’s creative community. From fully-staged world premieres in theatre, to ensemble and collaborative driven work, dance, comedy, visual art and film, this festival spans the spectrum of creative endeavor and seeds the next generation of creation through artist conversations, workshops, lunchtime readings and more.

Oregon Ballet Theatre staff and dancers will be participating in world premiere works all over town on seven of the ten days of the festival. Below is a choreographer interview with OBT’s own Gavin Larsen about her work for the Fertile Ground Festival, from Fertile Ground’s Blog written by OBT’s own Claire Willett

NAME: Gavin Larsen
PROJECT: A Ghost In the Room With Us

A Ghost In the Room With Us plays at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 26th and 6pm on Sunday, January 30th at Conduit (918 SW Yamhill, 4th Floor). Tickets are $15. More info here.

Gavin Larsen has danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alberta Ballet, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Ballet Victoria and most recently as a principal dancer with Oregon Ballet Theatre. She is thrilled to continue exploring the limitless language of dance by incorporating, considering, and learning from the distinct dialects of her fellow artists and collaborators, David Biespiel and Joshua Pearl. Gavin is currently on the faculty of the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre.

1. A Choreographer I Admire Is . . . I admire anyone with the bravery to create dance!
2. My Choreographic Style Can Be Described As . . . “Gavin Larsen the Dancer” Meets “Gavin Larsen speaking without words”
3. A Portland Artist I Admire Is . . . Josie Moseley
4. I Am Terrified Of . . . Feeling trapped
5. I Am Obsessed With . . . Moving and expanding outside the boundaries of my own skin
6. The Book Currently On My Nightstand Is . . . Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon
7. Three Adjectives That Describe This Play Are . . . Thought-Provoking, Classic, Beautiful
8. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . . [EDITOR’S NOTE: Gavin didn’t answer this question, but Claire feels strongly that she should be played by Embeth Davidtz. If you’ve seen Matilda and have met Gavin, you will agree with her.]

1. Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival project.
Three of us, poet David Biespiel, dancer Gavin Larsen, and musician Joshua Pearl — the trio that call themselves Incorporamento — are returning to the Fertile Ground Festival with a collaboration of original poetry, dance, and music, “A Ghost in the Room with Us.” Building on last year’s heralded Fertile Ground performance, we’re trying to allow audiences to interpret performance in a new way. We’re defining and fusing the lines between three classic forms of art. “A Ghost in the Room with Us” burns with recollection, introspection, and meditative reverie in a fabulous performance of renewal, insight, and pleasure.

2. How did this piece come about? What inspired it?
As soon as last year’s FG Festival shows ended, we were already talking about what we would do next. We knew we wanted to move to a more polished and fully produced show, much more in-depth, and include both original and existing work. We kept meeting to have “jam sessions” all spring and summer, and the pieces in this show are the results. We’re inspired by the concept of noticing that inner self that we all have, who travels with us through life, but is often as mysterious and effervescent as a ghost.

3. Talk about your creative process. (How do you work? When do you work? What gets you moving?)
We each work independently, and then bring something to the table, so to speak, at each rehearsal. Some of our pieces were born from the seed of a piece of music, some from one of David’s poems, and some from my movement. We blend them together without stepping all over each other’s work.

4. What is the most exciting/inspiring piece of live performance you’ve seen in Portland?
Honestly, it’s some of the OBT performances that I have either performed in or seen my colleagues do. I am routinely floored by the amount of talent and creativity in these studios.

5. What are you up to these days when you’re not creating?
I teach full-time at the School of OBT and coach the children that appear in any OBT production, so that has kept me very busy all fall and winter. When I’m not doing that, I’m refreshing my soul by moving my body and trying to live up to the high creative standards of Joshua and David. Doing this FG performance is like getting a drink of water after a long thirsty spell. I can’t stop gulping it down!

We are so proud to have so many OBT artists presenting work for the Fertile Ground Festival. Get your tickets or festival passes today!
Tell us what you think – What’s the best part of seeing a world premiere performance?

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