Maria Caruso is still trying to find herself as a choreographer. Last season, for instance, in her work "Kaleidoscope," the 27-year-old artistic director of Bodiography Contemporary Ballet experimented with a different movement language, one that purposely steered clear of such habits as movement directly tied to emotion.
Caruso considered the experiment a success. So for the company's latest production, Innovation 2008, Caruso seeks to marry her newfound way of looking at dance movement with her passion for emotional themes. The result is "Bound," her 45-minute work set to the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and set to premiere April 12, at the Byham Theater.
"Bound" centers on a group of individuals seeking psychotherapy. Caruso says she got the idea from talking with a psychologist friend. The work's backdrop includes a dozen actors portraying patients and a therapist; the patients' disorders and conversations with the therapist are played out in a series of vignettes danced to such Chili Peppers hits as "Under the Bridge," "Californication" and "Scar Tissue."
Caruso consulted with three psychologists during the creation of "Bound." They informed the piece as a dramaturge might, helping to direct the work's 12 actors and 14 dancers to present each disorder.
"From the therapist's feedback I found that some of the gestures and movements I used to communicate a particular feeling or disorder, such as having the dancers placing their hands over their mouths, had a different meaning to the therapists, who saw that gesture as being associated with an altogether different disorder," says Caruso.
While "Bound" deals with therapy of the mind, Caruso's other work on the program, a restaging of 2005's "Solace," set to music by composer Arvo Pärt, deals with therapy of the heart. Inspired by a life-threatening auto accident her mother was involved in, "Solace" recognizes the unexpected support people can receive in times of trouble.
"People came out of the woodwork that we hadn't heard from in years, and what they did gave me and my mother such a wonderful sense of support and comfort," says Caruso. "I wanted to relate in my piece that sense of community and support during a traumatic time that often comes unexpectedly and goes unacknowledged."
Innovation 2008's final work, "Partita," comes from choreographer James Martin, associate chair of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
Set to Bach's "Partita no. 1," Martin's 17-minute contemporary ballet for five dancers celebrates both Bach's music and the company's dancers.
"What inspires me about Bach's music is I feel like he is able to balance elements of recognition and surprise in an elegant and beautiful way," says Martin. Caruso calls Martin's "Partita no. 1" a sensitive and beautifully constructed dance work.
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet presents Innovation 2008 8 p.m. Sat., April 12. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $25-40 ($15 rush, available 30 minutes before curtain). 412-456-6666 or www.bodiographycbc.com