Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gotta Dance

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Until now, I've appreciated Tommy Lewey's artistry through his work with NoExit Performance. As part of this local theater troupe, he's proven himself a delightful actor and very capable director.

But until now, I haven't seen him ply his true craft. As an '09 grad from Butler in dance pedagogy, those talents in choreography definitely translate in theater pursuits. But it's high-time we see more of this kid dance.

Thankfully, his New Year's resolution involves us all in a very personal development of his craft. With Project 52, Tommy aims to produce what he calls "a video-choreographic exploration of found space" each week.

Lewey chooses spaces for Project 52 that challenge and restrict his movement. - ANNA PETERS
  • Anna Peters
  • Lewey chooses spaces for Project 52 that challenge and restrict his movement.

I caught up with him over coffee recently to discuss the methods and goals for his dance mission.

I begin our conversation by asking him about his inspiration for Project 52.

"The photography craze, 365 Project, partly influenced this process," he says. "I was really impressed with these visual artists' commitment to work every day at their craft, and I wanted to appropriate this idea to my work as a choreographer."

As a setting for each performance, Tommy plans to use "found spaces," which is probably not a surprise to anyone who's caught one of NoExit's plays, which often take place in nontraditional settings.

"If my work with NoExit Performance has taught me anything, it's that performance can be created anywhere," says Tommy. "As a young artist with hardly any conventional resources at my disposal, I thought that I would try to broaden my expectations of how I create work and the work itself."

For the dance teacher at Broad Ripple Magnet High School, the more constrictive a space the better: His fourth entry takes place in a bathtub with running water. Gone is the traditional expansive floor space, high ceiling and mirror-covered walls.

"Right now I am most interested in spaces that drastically limit my ability to move in certain ways," he explains. "While traditionally not good places to dance, what they offered inherently were perimeters and specifications for how I was able to move. In some ways, you can say that the space dictates the choreography, because I can only move a certain way within the given space."

So then I asked him how far ahead he has planned his locations and dances. "I don't have all 52 weeks planned out yet, and sometimes I don't decide on a place until I see it," he confesses. Further discussion led me to believe that the pressure of producing and performing a weekly dance adds to the excitement of the locations he does choose. He's also open to ideas or commissions.

But surely he has some dream locales in mind.

"Currently I have my eyes on those stadium seats from Bush Stadium that are placed by bus stops," he interjects. "I would also like to get inside those creepy hallways of Footlite Musical's stock, maybe the staircases at the IRT and other iconic Indy landmarks and buildings ... and some less-than-iconic Indy places."

Tommy is producing this project entirely by himself, as a kind of video dance selfie.

"I set up my iPhone to record on this funny contraption that's basically a gigantic binder clip attached to an industrial-strength pipe cleaner," he illustrates. "Part of this process is also learning about video editing software. Hopefully, as I get more comfortable with it, the quality of the editing will improve as well."

As another evolution of this project, look for Tommy to not only get out of his house (especially when the weather's better), but expect guests in future performances.

"I have a feeling that people, including myself, are going to get bored of seeing my face in this series," he confesses. "I'm talking with colleagues about making videos in which I am choreographing and directing behind the camera. The more bodies I get to work with, the more enriched my process comes."

Each week, Tommy posts the video of the finished dance on his website, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. And, yes, he encourages your feedback, both praise and critique.

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Speaking of...

  • Phoenix Rising

    Justin Sears-Watson of Dance Kaleidoscope shares his story of pain and perseverance and why he and his partner opened Phonenix Rising Dance Studios.
    • Jan 4, 2016
  • A New Twist on The Nutcracker

    A time-honored holiday tradition, The Nutcracker ballet gets an urban update as performed by one local dance company.
    • Dec 1, 2015
  • Dance Kaleidoscope on the Fringe

    DK dancers take experimental leaps in choreography as they participate in the upcoming 2015 IndyFringe Festival.
    • Aug 11, 2015
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Well-Endowed Artists

    Jennifer draws Seinfeld-esque parallels to artists' financial challenges with education, but offers easy ways to help.
    • Mar 2, 2016
  • Positive Impressions

    Ben chats with IMA’s artist-in-residence about introducing the process of woodblock printmaking to the masses.
    • Jan 10, 2016

About The Author

Hugh Vandivier

Hugh Vandivier

Hugh Vandivier is an online editor for Angie’s List. He’s a proud alum and volunteer for Wabash College, holds an MSJ from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and was a board member and director of grassroots arts nonprofit Primary Colours. He also interviewed Indy native Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in 2002.

More by Hugh Vandivier

  • Writing Wrongs

    While reading may be the secret to better writing, Hugh has found a singular literary education through reviewing others' work.
    • Oct 15, 2014
  • Recalling The Ban

    Hugh recalls his time last year holed up in the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in support of banned and threatened books, and he tells of this year's Banned Books Week.
    • Sep 17, 2014
  • Inventive Incentives

    Hugh is happy to learn that there are others fighting to bring more film production to Indiana.
    • Sep 3, 2014
  • More »

Latest in Sky Blue Blog

  • The Nice Things

    Ben has enjoyed his opportunity to give notice to some of Indy’s 'nice things' with Sky Blue Window readers. He hopes you’ll find and share them too.
    • Mar 9, 2016
  • A Gray Sky-onara

    Dan looks back at some of his most memorable blogs at Sky Blue Window.
    • Mar 8, 2016
  • Well-Endowed Artists

    Jennifer draws Seinfeld-esque parallels to artists' financial challenges with education, but offers easy ways to help.
    • Mar 2, 2016
  • More »
© 2017 CICF
Privacy Policy
Contact Us:
P: 317.634.2423   F: 317.684.0943
Central Indiana Community Foundation
615 N. Alabama St. #119
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-1431
Sky Blue Window is presented by:

Website powered by Foundation