A bit of the big city will come to State College Sept. 9-10 when André Koslowski and his TanzTheater company host the world premiere of “this little bit of life” at The State Theatre. A series of eclectic dance performances, these shows provide the opportunity to witness a true, fluid artist tell his story.
These “pay as you like” performances are a culmination of Koslowski’s decades spent on stage working to evolve his craft. Constantly challenging himself, his dancers and the audience, Koslowski is eager to showcase what he has been molding in the studio.
“This time around I have spent more time preparing and figuring out my thoughts than I previously have,” Koslowski said. “We had a substantial amount of time with the Company to develop material. This development was based on me asking dancers different questions that they would then think about and answer in any way they want. Their answer can be verbal, they can make a movement or they can develop small actions which I then catalogue for the performances.
“This has resulted in a show that has movement, music, dance and many stories about life and relationships,” he said.
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After having made a name for himself in Pittsburgh, Koslowski has worked out of State College for the past 12 years. This time spent in the center of the state has helped his work evolve and given him the chance to find his own artistic voice.
“What I really appreciate about being based out of State College is that there is very little distraction. We have a home here and a studio that is available to us at all times,” Koslowski said. “Being in such a concentrated area like this is usually pretty hard to find. Companies in cities like New York do not have their own studios or the space available whenever they want it — we don’t have that issue here. It’s a real luxury and gives us the freedom to work in an ideal, quiet space.”
For some, the sorts of performances that Koslowski puts on can be a bit of an acquired taste. Often times, even just the two words, “performance artist” are enough to send people running in the opposite direction. Although Koslowski admits that there are some similarities between performance art and that of the TanzTheater, he definitely doesn’t consider himself a “performance artist.”
To combat this notion, he and his company serve as an open book. In addition to just their hypnotic stage presence, TanzTheater also helps audiences better understand their craft through audience question and answer sessions, which will occur at Friday’s show.
“The educational outreach that we do allows people to ask us anything and hopefully helps them better understand out work,” Koslowski said. “I think one of the challenges for audiences is that they have a great amount of freedom in how they can involve themselves, how they can assemble their own meaning and story, and how they can allow themselves to be affected by the performance.
I look at what we’re doing as a sort of dialogue with the audience rather than me standing up there just telling them something.
“In this way, I look at what we’re doing as a sort of dialogue with the audience rather then me standing up there just telling them something. I want audiences to see their own story, not just mine,” Koslowski continued.
“It’s hard for new works of any sort to get an audience, and unconventional art can be even more difficult for people to take a chance on,” added the show’s marketing organizer, Pam Monk. “Yet the opportunity to see a new work unveiled, to talk with the creators, and simply absorb the complexities is rare no matter where you live. I would encourage people to come to be amused, puzzled, fascinated, and appreciate the questions without worrying about the answers.”
Koslowski lives to perform and the upcoming shows at The State Theatre are testaments to his unbridled passion. His work with the TanzTheater fuels his creativity, and those who come to see his work are the ultimate beneficiaries.
“If there suddenly weren’t any more theaters in this world, I would still go into the studio and make my art,” Koslowski said. “Of course we do this to perform for an audience, but the entire process itself has its own life.”
IF YOU GO
- What: TanzTheater’s “this little bit of life”
- When: 8 p.m. Sept. 9 and 8 p.m. Sept. 10
- Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
- Info: www.tanztheater-ak.com/