Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Toni Valle at Fringe Festival

Toni Leago Valle: David A. Brown

Toni Leago Valle

Photo by David A. Brown

Toni Leago Valle, a prolific choreographer on the rise, will be showing three pieces in the upcoming Freneticore Fringe Festival. Valle freely uses her own life as material, yet manages to stay clear of "journal entry" dances. She gives us a glimpse of the Valle vortex below.

29-95: You danced I am Mother, a Butoh-inspired dance about fertility goddesses, when you were about to give birth. Now, you are a mother of a five year old. What's different?

Toni Leago Valle: Mythological mothers and realistic mothers don't have much to do with each other. But, that said, I can do a lot more than I could than when I was pregnant, like back bends.

29-95: Why did you choose Butoh?

TLV: I studied the history of Butoh in college and have always been interested in the form, although I am not trained in the style. Butoh is a backlash to traditional Kabuki dance, just as modern was to ballet in the West. Butoh sought to move away from Kabuki fairy tales and show the reality of life, hence the often deformed body poses and facial gestures.

29-95: You also will be showing The Victim solo from Tetris, your most recent piece. Why did you choose this excerpt?

TLV: The festival aimed at more theatrical work and I thought Catalina Molnari's solo would stand alone. It's very athletic and performed on top of Thomas Boyd's magnificent set of gigantic boxes. You don't need to know who she is.

29-95: The two excerpts from Cracked, your confessional opus on women, contains your most compelling, and dare I say, disturbing work. Both Interview for a Date” and I Take my Clothes off, show women in a subservient position. The man interrogates his potential date, asking her about her body, her finances, what she brings to the table. Finally she screams "I am good at sex." You seem to be saying women are still second-class citizens.

TLV: Discrimination is still around, it just went more underground. Women are still expected to be thin, beautiful and successful. Now, it's just more subtle and less overt. My mother never told me to be subservient, but told me to find a good man. When I realized that these issues were still there, I was able to fight it.

29-95: What's the second section, "I take my clothes off" about for you?

TLV: I wanted to be able to get up in front of an audience in a bra and underwear and say this is my body and totally except it.

29-95: Give me a break. You have a great body.

TLV: But that's the point. As a dancer, I am always still looking in the mirror. It doesn't matter what kind of body have, the fact that its not good enough is woven into the fabric of our society.

29-95: You have big news: You're starting a company called 6', (a reference to six degrees of separation) and will be sharing a double bill Amy Ell at DiverseWorks in May of 2010. Why start a company now with this dang recession going on?

TLV: I have gone as far as I can as an independent artist, so I am ready to make the next move. I want to grow more.

The Frenetic Fringe Festival presents works by Toni Leago Valle, Mary Ellen Whitworth, Paul Locklear, Eric Fensler and Laura Harrison Aug. 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. at Freneticore Theatre, 5102 Navigation Blvd. Tickets are $18 at the door, $15 advance.

Reprinted from