Sessions in the Studio | In Conversation with Matthew Pawlicki-Sinclair

Sessions in the Studio | In Conversation with Matthew Pawlicki-Sinclair
© Brian Simcoe

Matthew Pawlicki-Sinclair was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. He received his high school diploma from North Carolina School of the Arts and additionally trained at Jacob's Pillow, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and San Francisco Ballet School. He joined Kansas City Ballet as an apprentice in 2005. During this time, he had the opportunity to dance featured roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, and Antony Tudor. He joined the corps de ballet of Dutch National Ballet in 2008 and his repertory includes John Cranko's Onegin, David Dawson's Tristan + Isolde, George Balanchine's Rubies, William Forsythe's The Second Detail, Justin Peck's Year of the Rabbit, Alexei Ratmansky's Piano Concerto No. 1, Wayne McGregor's Chroma, and Christopher Wheeldon's Concerto Concordia. Pawlicki-Sinclair joined Oregon Ballet Theatre as a soloist in 2018.

Choreographically, Pawlicki-Sinclair has created for New Moves, (Dutch National Ballet's young choreographer program) a work that CriticalDance writer Maggie Foyer observed was "multi-layered and multi-textured…characterized by confident, mature movement ideas and an interesting juxtaposition of the groups."

In 2014, Pawlicki-Sinclair co-founded the creative company House of Makers with Dutch writer Sterre van Rossem and British choreographer Peter Leung. House of Makers has created original site-specific work for museums, theaters, events, and brands including the Van Gogh Museum, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Ostadetheater, Nederlandse Dansdagen, Nikon, and Tommy Hilfiger. The team is fascinated by the role of the performer and its relation to the audience, displacing expectations between disciplines, the performers, and the audience."

For their latest creation, catch the House of Makers' Shaker Loops (Life After Human Life) at Lake Area Music Festival on Saturday, August 10 & 11, 2019, Tornstrom Auditorium, Brainerd, Minnesota.

"…Shaker Loops (1978, revised 1983) [is] the earliest of several John Adams scores that have become bona fide contemporary classics. When it was new, this work was like a lightning bolt for fans of Minimalism who had seen the biggest stars of the movement (Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich) retain the notion that repetition and gradual harmonic development were the essential hallmarks of this nascent style."
— Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, August 18, 2009

New Zealand-born Gemma New will conduct John Adams' score. New is currently Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. She was recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, a position she will assume in the 2019/20 season.

House of Makers

Spotify playlist

Matthew Pawlicki-Sinclair
photo by Joni Kabana

Can you explain how House of Makers came about?

Along with Sterre van Rossem (writer) and Peter Leung (choreographer) we had a common need to create interdisciplinary work. Especially coming from disciplines that are so introspective, we really yearned to create in a way where each idea could confront and inform the other. We founded House of Makers after curating artists together for a festival called Nuit Blanche in 2012. That process had been really inspiring and things just grew from there.

Is a score the starting point for considering new projects with the creative team?

No, not in general. Different projects will have different starting points. For example, when wemake a film, the narrative is usually the starting point and a score is added at the last moment.And even when we do more traditional dance pieces, music sometimes comes in last. Ourmusic director Nicholas Thayer is great at seeing our movement, light design and text and thencomposing a score to it. Sometimes though, music is the starting point and it has been the starting point for Life After Human Life, our performance to John Adams' Shaker Loops. We listened to the score a lot and it directly inspired movement and the concept for our narrative.

How do you go about exploring composers and scores for your choreographiccreations?

Every project has different parameters and these affect the choices that we make.We're generally interested in and attracted to new contemporary work from young and emergingcomposers. We all spend a lot of time on Spotify exploring new releases to find what is beingcomposed that speaks to us. Other times, using something that has already existed for a whilecan bring an interesting layer to the performance and concept.

A few years ago the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam asked us to make a performative work inresponse to their exhibition Van Gogh & Munch. After researching for a while, it led us to ArnoldSchoenberg String Quartet No. 3, Op. 30. We chose this piece of music by Schoenberg not onlyfor the relevant time period, but also because of the nervous yet inspiring tendency of thecomposition which mimicked and echoed the energies of Van Gogh and Munch.

What drew you to John Adams' Shaker Loops score?

This creation was commissioned by the Lakes Area Music Festival who sent us a few scores tochoose from. Shaker Loops was the standout choice for us. It's so vibrantly alive! The music isvery dynamic and varied, the entire score just takes you on an incredible journey and I could immediately visualize movement, and Sterre could visualize the concept.

Have you used or danced to John Adams' music previously?

I performed in a piece choreographed by Margo Sappington to The Chairman Dancesby Adams, at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in 2005.

Peter choreographed to Shaker Loops before for a music series at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJAmsterdam. The piece was called Surface and performed by musicians from the RoyalConcertgebouw Orchestra. It's the same music, but an entirely different piece. Peter workedwith the dancers from Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company. It's fascinating to us that onepiece of music can inspire so many different creations.

It's actually one of House of Makers' obsessions, to use something more than once but createdifferent performances to it. Or to give the same piece different titles and see how that changesthe whole perspective on the piece.

Have you previously created on the six dancers performing from Oregon BalletTheater for Shaker Loops?

I joined Oregon Ballet Theatre last season, so this was really the first opportunity for me to create on my fellow colleagues. I have been choreographing for Dutch National Ballet for the past 10 years and I'm excited to now choreograph on my OBT colleagues. All the dancers bring a lot to the table and are very involved in the process.

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