Taja Will: Move
Here's the deal: Taja Will was made to move, heal, and educate. No question. I can't imagine a better person suited to create holistic, developmental, psychotherapy through the modalities of somatic body work and energy. Wait, what? Yeah, THAT.
I can't imagine you creating through any other medium! Movement and healing seem so fitting for you. Though, there was a time when creating in such a physical way didn't seem possible. Can you tell me more about that?
It's been a really clear progression for me. I danced as a kid, which I don't think really counts at all, BUT I was interested in dance. I went to college to be in the theater, opera performance world. And the dramatic part, because we can't leave out the dramatic part, was that my freshmen year of college I became paralyzed from the waist down for three months. This was from years of competitive athletics growing up. I injured myself but my muscles took over so I didn't feel the injury. Then, after not doing those sports for six months, my muscles unwound, the injury became present, and I was paralyzed. Over the course of two days, I went from just being in pain, to not being able to walk. I vaguely remember all of the details but I trust everything happened smoothly because I have ended up exactly where I am suppose to be. For whatever reason, I refused all medical treatment. After months of no movement, I decided I was going to walk again, despite my doctors thinking that was impossible. So I did! Not very well, but my body healed and I learned to move, re-pattern, and walk again back at college, I became fully immersed in dancing within five months. That's really when I feel like I started knowing my internal spaces and let them be the impulse for movement, creation, and artistry.
Okay, so, you're incredible. What was I going to ask you? Right. How do you rehearse for an improvisational piece?
For the Walker piece I am working on now, it is really easy because our sound score is literally telling us what to do--kick, jump, etc. The piece I am creating with my Hamline students right now, called love, Obviously, we are trying to articulate what we see as love in our world and through pop culture; juxtaposed with how we feel about love and related emotions. From there, we shaped a concept with movement. So, improv dance can be structured, even highly structured, but never completely set.
Have there been moments during an improvisational piece that have really not worked within the concepts structured?
Yes, that happens all of the time! I think the training to be an improviser is that instant readiness--adaptable to spontaneity. So, in some ways, I never totally walk away with the thought of, "Oh, wow, that was a mess." because I get to make the choices of movement, in the moment, all of the time. Likewise, sometimes magic happens--where everyone is on the same page. Last year I did a collaborative piece with other dancers, jazz musicians, and hip hop artists. We had never rehearsed so we had no idea what was going to happen. And it was completely magical, We could never recreate something like that. We didn't even know the magic was happening until the audience told us afterwards!
CONNECT: http://www.tajawill.com // Upcoming Performances:
Walker Art Center Choreographer's Evening, November 29th 7pm & 9:30.
Hamline University's Dance Ensemble performs love, Obviously. December 2014 and May 2015.
Video and copy created by Kristina Perkins