This content is co-presented by PlayThey Studios.
Seattle’s Velocity Dance Center is featuring the premiere of a new showcase, IOTA, curated by and highlighting local choreographer, Coleman Pester, starting August 26. IOTA utilizes the work of queer femme choreographers in a ninety-minute-long exhibition. I caught up with Pester to discuss more about their choreography brand and the IOTA project.
Tell me about Tectonic Marrow Society (TMS).
That’s the name that I create my work under. I’ve been making work under that name for about five years now. I wanted something that described the work that I make but still be open enough to where the definition of what I do can evolve. I felt like those words ring true to those ideas. A lot of times in dance I am engaging different levels of an idea, from a micro to a macro perspective, engaging scientific perspectives as well as building emotional context and narrative. I like the use of the word ‘society’ instead of company because I work with a lot of collaborators, and we sort of have this free form of people coming and going. Sometimes people work on this project and sometimes they’re traveling and doing their own work, I feel like society is more accurate to what I am building.
How many people are at the core of it?
Mostly me, but in a few recent projects I’ve been working with a set designer named Cameron Irwin. He designed a set for the piece I created for Northwest New Works called Three Perspectives and then we also used that set in a film that we made that was also [for] Three Perspectives. He recently made a set for this work called Pylon that premiered this past February at the Olympic Sculpture Park. He’ll probably be building another set for the next iteration of Pylon. There’s a film artist named Matt Witschonke. There are some dancers that have been in my work with pretty regularly too.
What other types of media has TMS worked with?
I usually describe TMS as having a focal point of contemporary dance. Whatever art we’re making, there’s the primary element of dance. So far that has just been performance art as well as film, but I am open to other mediums moving forward.
What other areas would you like to explore?
I’ve been collaborating with visual artist, mixed media artists to be more accurate, for the Pylon series that I am doing. I find that to be really engaging. I approach making dance with a strong visual element so to have people who work in that discipline primarily on board feels like it’s able to amplify the work even further. In Pylon, we created a live surveillance system within the installation work. There’s another iteration of Pylon that’s going to be premiering for King Street Station in late October where we’ll be expanding on those ideas even more. I’m currently approaching a few mixed media artists for collaboration. We’re still in the primary stages of that, but those are ways I want to expand. All the work we’ve done so far has engaged different sound composers. That’s also a large part of TMS.
Tell me more about IOTA specifically.
IOTA will premiere August 26th and 27th at Velocity at 8 pm. It’s a mixed bill. I commissioned works from Jody Kuehner, Cameo Lethem, and Jenna Eady. Between us we share these identities of being queer, non-binary, and female. All of us have some way into that or into a piece of that. And that feels important for me. I specifically wanted the show to be a platform for those voices. It feels really good to finally be at a place with Tectonic Marrow Society to be commissioning other peoples’ work and moving beyond it just being my own and IOTA is the first step in doing that.
Explain a bit about how you commissioned the work.
These are artists that I had relationships with over time. Especially Jody, who normally performs as Cherdonna. She’s danced in my work before. She danced in Pylon. I take her class regularly so we have an ongoing relationship and I’m really inspired by these three choreographers. It just felt right to be able to open up TMS to exist and have them be the right people to do that.
How long is each choreographers’ piece for IOTA?
The work I am creating, the solo on Lucie [Baker], will be around 30 min. The work I commissioned from Jody will be around 15 min. Cameo’s piece will be 20 min and then Jenna’s piece will be 8 min. So there’s some variety. I saw Cameo’s piece, well, she showed a work in progress at open studios a few months back. It was when I was formulating ideas for this show. The piece was very strong. I know Cameo hasn’t been commissioned in Seattle before so I felt really great about choosing that piece particularly for this show and allowing her to develop it through rehearsals for IOTA.
I’ve seen some of the fundraising stuff you’ve been doing. Tell me about the goals and purpose of that.
So this is my first time doing a crowdfunding campaign. The crowdfunding campaign via Hatchfund is paying for the whole show. We’ve had some really great donors already contribute. Our goal is $5000 with a stretch goal of $7500. All of that is going toward artists’ fees, commissioning fees, set elements, studio/venue rental. I have enjoyed doing crowdfunding this way so far because it’s been a way to engage my community. I realized how wide those circles really extend and how many these people care about the work that I do. That’s such a great feeling. Also, I found it to be really successful strategically for promoting the show because so many people [who] want to give but are unable to [but] are interested in attending the show. It’s already pushing ticket sales. Cameo, who’s co-producing the show, has been doing a lot of work promoting the crowdfunding. It feels really good to be supported that way.
At the time of the article composition, the IOTA hatchfund reached its $5000 goal and working toward it’s stretch goal. Check out iota.brownpapertickets.com for tickets or more information. To donate to the crowd-funding campaign check out their Hatchfund site.