Technique Talk: Dance artist CoCo Loupe
Technique Talk is a weekly online Alive feature that spotlights the process of a Columbus artist. Know someone we should talk to? Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CoCo Loupe. Photo by Craig Bortmas Photography.
When CoCo Loupe and her team of contemporary choreography compatriots from the collective They Might Be Dancers opened Feverhead in fall of 2011, they ushered in a new chapter of independent dance in Columbus. Feverhead, a small industrial space in Grandview that the team transformed into a studio, has become an oasis for newbie and professional dancers by providing myriad classes, workshops and opportunities for making art in multiple disciplines. Loupe has also seen her work evolve in the past few years, expressing her incessant need to create through less physical means. She's compelling to watch move, even when she's just hanging paintings she made for a miniature dollhouse gallery. Whichever way she releases her creativity, it is always evident that movement is the way Loupe experiences the world.
What kind of art do you make and why?
i make dances, ink and marker doodles, movement videos, soundscapes and i write a bit. i make dances because it's a compulsion. a habit. i process my experience in the world by moving. more specifically, when i am considering something in my mind...even the most mundane considerations, the ideas have weight, mass, they exert pressure, and are rhythmically in motion. most of my thoughts are images and they move. for instance, if i recall an idea or thought, usually the first thing that comes to me is kinesthetic sensation. the qualities of movement in that thought. not the words of the thought. not the logic of it. the kinesthetic imprint of that thought. so i guess at an early age i started forming those imprints into dances. and i never stopped. i make the other kinds of art either in support of my dance-making process or in place of making dances. i write to make myself think and explain with words. i doodle because i can do it for prolonged periods of time. i can't really dance at a high level of intensity for very long anymore. so these other modes of creating serve to fill in the gaps of activity and making that would normally be consumed by time improvising and composing with my body.
When do you make art?
i make art whenever i can. making dances isn't a solo endeavor. when can i have the people i'm working with in the same space for at least 2 hours? that's when i make dances. if i'm making a solo, i work mostly at night. in the wee hours. i have a full-time job so during business hours, that is my priority. the other creative activities are done when i feel like i need to get unstuck or i want to procrastinate… which is just about any hour of the day.
How often do you make art?
everyday. i consider my daily physical practices (dancing and yoga mostly) to be a part of the creative process. i may not be making "a dance" or "a video" or "a drawing" but i'm always making something or processing something that will find its way into a new work. i have a very loose interpretation of "making art." it's not a matter of sitting down or going into the studio and declaring that i am in fact NOW going to make some art. i am living. therefore i am doing and choosing to not do. in those modes of action and non-action i am continually making the next move toward building a new object. it may never see the light of day but this way of going about life is, to me, a continuous way of making art. i'm typing this right now and know that something OF it will become fodder for another piece.
Where do you make art and why?
i make art at Feverhead - a space for dance, art, music and theatre. at home. in the car. at the grocery store. i did a nice jig in the produce section of the kroger the other night while i was picking out lettuces. there was a jam up song playing over the PA there and i just started dancing. weighing the head of lettuce in this hand and that. passing it around my back and over my head. in the end i chose redleaf and romaine. i'm most comfortable working through content or generating via improvisation in private so i do most of that at home or at Feverhead. but i'm not attached to a particular space or time. i most often have great insights into a piece or a flash of imagery for a new work when i'm in the company of very creative people. but more often than not, i take those snips of inspiration into a private space to work on them.
What has been inspiring your work lately?
yoga. not the physical practice of yoga but the idea of this expansive ancient practice that has so much ungraspable knowledge in it. when i study it and participate in it, the words of it don't stick (except a few mantras that i do regularly) but the historical and spiritual gravity and lightness of that entire concept really captivate me.
my aging body.
thoughts of transformation and impermanence.
making the ambiguous clear and the clear ambiguous.
What advice that you've found invaluable would you give a new artist?
i have two for this that come to mind right away.
1. "calm down. it's just a dance."
2. i just heard this yesterday and it was not related to being an artist but it summarized a lot of what i feel like gets me to my best work. "don't answer the question. question the answer."
What do you do while you work?
depends on what i'm doing. if i'm dancing i'm… dancing. if i'm not dancing and making visual stuff i smoke like a freight train and drink coffee until i shake out of my skin. planning on finding a way out of that pattern. i also listen to music or chanting or soundscapes. Right now, I am absolutely HOOKED on the prayers and chants to Ganesh. Check this album out: "Ganesh Mantras for Blessings, Auspicious Beginnings & Removal of Obstacles." Artist is listed as Inner Splendor Meditation Music and Yoga Project
Do you ever experience artists' block?
yes. no. yes. no. i'm too ansty and curious and impatient for that to happen very often. if something isn't working or i can't find a solution i will sometimes set it aside for a while or abandon it altogether. most often i just make a decision that either there will be a gap or hitch in the system and let that become part of the work or i will improvise the fuck out of materials until something comes through. if i destroy something along the way i either chunk it and say "good riddance" or, if i feel like there's something still salvageable, i keep it on the side for later use. destroyed/abandoned components can prove useful sometimes. there will be another dance. another thing. another process. another piece. until there's no more space and time.
Three artists, living or dead, that you would invite to a dinner party:
deborah hay, buster keaton, patti smith
if they couldn't make it… marina abramovic, pina bausch, auguste rodin