Life is a series of encounters — big and small, chance and planned. We meet through friends, fall in love, or walk by each other sharing a sideways glance that, for a moment, means something. Kristin Fieseler, artistic director and choreographer of Annex Dance Company, is fascinated by such run-ins.
"I'm intrigued by the idea of chance encounters and how those sometimes have a profound effect on someone," Fieseler says. Two years ago, she began exploring the idea while choreographing pieces for her former Pennsylvania dance company. "From there it has translated to a much larger idea about relationships — those that can last a minute or those that can last a lifetime."
Fieseler relocated to the Lowcountry in August to build Annex Dance Company, and she continues to explore the idea. The company's debut appearance in the Piccolo Spoleto Dance at Noon series is aptly named "Encounter" and features several pieces that interpret the concept. "I really am interested in a true connection between the dancers as they're performing," she says. "You see the dancers looking at one another, and you can feel the connection between them, whether it's two or five people on stage."
The hour-long production will feature nine dancers — three of whom were members of Fieseler's Pennsylvania company that relocated to continue to work with her. "One group has danced together for years, and some just met," Fieseler says. "This reflects relationships."
The production will feature free-flowing movements as the dancers explore different types of encounters in a style she describes as classical modern dance with an edge. "Some pieces are abstract and might be more of a challenge as to why the dancers are on stage and how they relate to one another." Spoken-word poetry will also be woven into the performances, as several of the dancers will recite excerpts from famous Maya Angelou and Czeslaw Milosz poems both transitionally and within the individual pieces. "They reflect relationships more than anything else, as well as the investigating of one's self," she says. Fieseler adds that the pieces are also very personal, highlighting aspects of her own life. "If I'm staying true to myself, what I'm creating in my work is reflective of what I'm dealing with in my life."
Though this is Annex's first Piccolo performance, Fieseler has previously appeared in the festival as part of a visiting company. She performed in Marion Square years ago for a Piccolo series that highlighted various types of choreography. She visited Charleston several times afterward and eventually decided to move here. "I just loved the arts community here," she says. "There are opportunities to really build it in the absolute direction of why I started the company in the first place."
Fieseler hopes that the Piccolo performance will allow her company to break into the local dance scene, while also allowing audience members to garner a good understanding of all that modern dance entails. "I hope they're challenged by my work yet can find a connection with it," she says.