Q&A with eXpressions Assistant Artistic Director Esin Yunusoglu '19| Mar 23, 2016
Interviewed by Contributor Taylor Kang '19.
Maybe you've been to The Frick Collection, maybe you've been to The Phillips Collection, but you've definitely yet to attend "The Collection," that is, eXpressions Dance Company's Spring 2016 show, "The Collection." Street sat down with Esin Yunusoglu '19, the assistant artistic director of eXpressions to learn more about this upcoming art-themed dance performance. “The Collection,” will run Friday, April 1 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, April 2 at 6 and 9 p.m. Tickets are available at Frist and online.
The Daily Princetonian: For those who don’t know, what is eXpressions?
Esin Yunusoglu ’19: eXpressions is an all girls dance company, and it’s actually the first dance company at Princeton. It was founded in 1979, and we mostly do contemporary but we’re very open to new styles and some other styles just like hip-hop fusion. We have two shows per year, one in the fall and one in the spring, and we also have two auditions per year. We rehearse during the week, during the night, and the weekend.
DP: What can Princeton students expect from this upcoming eXpressions show?
EY: So we’re actually really excited, particularly about the theme of the show. It’s called “The Collection,” and basically the theme is about getting inspired by a variety of images for each piece that we’re doing. Some of them are really famous artworks, like Persistence of Memory or some Jackson Pollock, and some of them are very iconic photographs, some sculptures. But this time we actually tried to stick to the theme, and we’re trying to explore how those images are affecting our imagination. In some ways, very literally, and in some other pieces, they’re affected more abstractly. So we’re exploring some different themes with different artworks, different images. We’re excited about everyone’s interpretation, every choreographer's take is very different towards each artwork or each image. I think it’ll be interesting to see the overlap between some different artworks for the audience because it’s interesting to explore how dance is a dynamic art form and can get inspired by a very still image or a very still art form and transform it into movement, so I’m very excited to show that to our audience.
DP: How did the Company decide on the theme, “The Collection”?
EY: We just realized that we have a lot of art history nerds in the company, and it was just one of the first themes we thought of, and it started as a joke, like, ‘Oh, let’s do the Ecstasy of St. Teresa, and we’ll call it Ecstasy — eXpressions presents Ecstasy!’ But then when we thought about it seriously — it just sounded like a good idea because it’s interesting to see the overlap of the art forms because I feel like a lot of the dancers are not only just interested in dance but they are people who are interested in a lot of forms of art, so why not just incorporate them? When the new officer board was elected, we really wanted the theme to actually be a part of the show and not just a name, so this was something that we could actually use because the previous theme — we had a lot of fun with it, but when you call the show APEX it’s actually hard to implement it in some of the pieces because it’s maybe too abstract, we wanted [it] to be more concrete.
DP: Could you describe the upcoming show in more detail?
EY: I can talk about my piece that I’m choreographing as an example, which is Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí. I’m trying to interpret it more abstractly, but I was also more inspired by the visuality of the piece. So you know it’s a melting clock — so at first I started off with the idea of movements that look like melting or look like you can’t control your body, but then I worked with some contrasts, how you can actually try to control it, and then I’m even just inspired by the name of the piece and the sense of time in movement, so in the piece I think you’ll be able to see similar moves done in different timings, so I was just using the concept of time that got me inspired from the artwork, but I know for some other pieces, someone’s using, you know the iconic image of the V-J Day image with the sailor [V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt]. And she’s inspired by the whole concept of war, but you know how the girl is leaning back, she’s just inspired by that pose and exploring that throughout the piece. And someone’s using Gustav Klimt’s gold paintings — she’s using the piece Nothing Can Stay Gold and using it more at a costume level, so it’s a different way of getting inspired by the pieces.Editor’s note: eXpressions President Claire Egan '17 was also contacted for an interview, but deferred comment to Yunusoglu due to scheduling conflicts.