Talk Dance is a podcast series devoted to in-depth conversations with dance artists produced and hosted by local dancer, educator, and commentator Justin Jones. In this installment, Jones speaks with Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs, local dance artists known for their witty and precise choreography and curators of this season’s Choreographers’ Evening. Listen to the entire podcast here.
Chris Yon, Taryn Griggs and I go way back. I first met Mr. Yon in our “C” level ballet class at NYU in the fall of 1998. I remember Chris was wearing a ripped “Headbanger’s Ball” t-shirt and I thought to myself, I have to know this person. So, I did. Not long after, we were collaborating, making duets together. Shortly after we graduated from NYU, Chris and Taryn met at an audition for a piece Chris was making at the Bessie Shoenberg Individual Choreographers’ Residency at The Yard. As they described in a recent conversation in their Powderhorn neighborhood kitchen (with their 20 month old daughter bouncing between the three of us as we talked) it was love, personal and artistic, at first sight, and they’ve been making work together ever since.
I am a huge fan of Chris’ choreography and of Taryn’s dancing of it. I think at this point I’ve likely seen as many (possibly more) of Chris’ shows as his parents have. I look forward to any opportunity to see what they’re up to, and I was thrilled when I heard they were curating this year’s Choreographers’ Evening. Knowing them, I wasn’t surprised that they would find some way to twist their approach to curating. That twist comes as their imagining the evening as a mix-tape, which they’ve dedicated to curator of The Club at LaMama, and long time friend and supporter, Nicky Paraiso.
In our conversation, I wanted to hear them talk more about their choice to frame the show this way. I wanted to know what it was like to curate the premier “Mixed Bag” type dance show in the Twin cities and I was also curious if they had any good mix-tape stories. Presented below is a text-mix-tape of some stuff they said while we sat in their warm kitchen, eating tater tots and sloppy joes (which were delicious).
Chris: “Nicky Paraiso’s been a figure in our lives since basically the very beginning of our relationship … he gave us our first shot when it felt like no one else would or wanted to, at LaMama … and he’s successfully cultivated a large dance presence there … he’s a huge fan of dance.”
Taryn: “Chris and I often watch things in different ways. I can fall in love with a lot of pieces because of the people in it or the way they’re doing something.
Chris looks at the big picture. It’s hard for him to love a piece, no matter how good the performers are, if he doesn’t like the choreography or the stage picture.
… I think one of the things we loved about Nicky is that he’s … able to fall in love with pieces because the composition is great, and he’s able to fall in love with pieces because he loves performers.”
Chris: “The fact that he walks around with such humility and he’s just always aghast and agog at those around him – and I want to feel that way all the time, and I often do here. And this is an opportunity, when people are like, “why did you move here?” and I feel like this show could be like, “this is why” because these people are here and I get to watch them.”
Hear the rest of Jones’ conversation with Yon and Griggs on the Walker Channel.
Choreographers’ Evening takes place on Saturday, November 30th, at 7 pm and 9:30 pm at the Walker’s McGuire Theater.