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Making new dance overnight in the 24 Hour ChoreoFest

Shane Godfrey/Shane Godfrey.


Kimberleigh Holman


When the 24 Hour ChoreoFest begins on Friday night, Luminarium Dance Company and five other troupes will shut themselves into the Dance Complex in Cambridge and start creating pieces that they’ll perform there on Saturday. Holman, one of Luminarium’s two artistic directors, talked about how she came up with the idea for the event.

Q. Why did you create a 24-hour choreography festival?

A. We were looking for something a little bit different than the traditional show. I had participated in a 24-hour play festival last year as a lighting designer, so I was a little bit in love with the idea of a 24-hour festival and all of the stress, and fun, and just chaos that it brings. In the dance community, everybody is so busy trying to produce their own work that there’s not a lot of opportunity to come together. I brought the idea to my [Luminarium] codirector, Merli [Guerra], and she was like, “OK, sure!”

Q. How is this event going to work?


A. Basically we have choreographers from five other dance companies besides ourselves coming in on Friday night at about 8 o’clock. We’re all going to pull themes out of a hat. From 8 p.m. until 10 a.m. the next morning, that’s the time you get to create your brand-new piece from scratch. They are locked in overnight, so they can’t leave. Besides themes, there are no time limits; there are no musical limits. Anything else is fair game.

Q. What are some of these themes?

A. We are going to reach out to our Facebook followers on our page and ask them to contribute themes, so we’re not sure yet. It’s more related to story lines. Like, not as broad as love and loss, but something plot-specific.

Q. What kinds of dance companies are participating?


A. Unfortunately, well, not unfortunately because modern dance is great, but it was mostly modern and contemporary companies that applied. We’re hoping if we keep this festival going in years to come that we can get a larger spectrum of different dance genres represented.

Q. How many applied?

A. We were surprised, actually. We had maybe 30 groups apply. It was great to see that the community was interested. We were worried that no one would apply because they were just so scared off by the idea of creating overnight.

Q. Will there be any interruptions?

A. We have two meetings. One at midnight, and a 4 a.m. one to see who’s going totally crazy and then just to chat about creating dance and building community. In the morning, we’re going to tech all the pieces, get everything looking really well produced, and then we’ll have two shows in the afternoon.

Q. How long does it normally take to choreograph a piece?

A. Our rehearsal process recently for a normal show has been maybe six rehearsals that are two-ish hours in length. It’s over six weeks, but the amount of hours is pretty comparable.

Q. Will people get to take breaks or sleep?

A. The 8 p.m. to the 10 a.m. check is delegated by each choreographer. If the choreographers feel like they can let their dancers sleep, that’s totally up to them.

Q. How many people are participating?

A. Each company is bringing between two and eight dancers. It’s an average of 30 people. The next day, we’re having a youth dance company, Jo-Mé Dance, come and open the show.


Q. Why are the proceeds going to Young at Arts?

A. We want to give money back to a local arts [program]. This one is really cool because it’s 12- to 18-year-olds. They do visual arts like painting and photography. We’re going to donate the profits and then later on come in and do some work with them so they can taste performing art, too.

Q. Is there a prize?

A. I think walking out of the festival with your sanity is the prize. [Laughs] No, I think it’s just feeling satisfied that you can accomplish this, and you could get this whole new piece done overnight. That is the prize.


Interview has been condensed and edited. Stephanie Steinberg can be reached at stephanie
. Follow her on Twitter @steph_