Inside the Creation of Colin Connor's THAW

WinterSong 2022 features the world premiere of THAW by California-based choreographer Colin Connor. In his sixth creation for CCDT, the piece sees an ensemble cast of ten dancers transform from frozen to free-flowing; isolated to interconnected. Caitlin Feanny, one of CCDT's newest company members, shares her experience from inside Colin's creative process and the dedicated work that is taking THAW from the studio to the stage.


From Left: Madison Costa, Hope Fritz, Caitlin Feanny, Willem Sadler, and Tessa Ziemba Lee in rehearsal for THAW choreographed by Colin Connor. Photo by Drew Berry.


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Working with Colin Connor has been an unforgettable experience. As our company is counting down the days until WinterSong, we’ve spent time delving into his original intent behind movements and how we can truly perform the work with our full expression. As Colin explained to us, THAW represents the slow shift between the ice cold winter and the melting into spring, a transformation that begins right from the winter solstice.


When we began the process for creating THAW during SunDance 2022, CCDT's summer intensive, we were given multiple creative tasks to challenge our artistic interpretation within Colin's guidelines. One task I specifically remember was being separated into groups: ice cracking, ice melting, and stuck underneath the ice. People with the same topic joined together in pairs. I had ice cracking, and after approximately 15 minutes of creation we were asked to combine our phrases to make a series. From this, we were able to integrate a handful of different dancer-choreographed sections, including our series. This was such an interesting activity to see how each person interpreted the broad topic into movement and the capability of working hand-in-hand with peers to make something fascinating. It was entertaining to see a choreographer use the creation of the dancers in their piece as I had never really worked like this prior to joining CCDT, other than in student-only choreographed pieces at my performing arts school.


Choreographer Colin Connor, left, in rehearsal with dancers Valeria Chiappetta, Caitlin Feanny, and Willem Sadler. Photo by Drew Berry.


Since the initial creation of this piece happened during SunDance, many changes needed to be made once the CCDT company's season began this fall. With Colin making a short visit in October, we only had a full weekend, Friday through to Monday, to push through the 10-minute-long work. We took all the phrases we knew were going to be carried through from SunDance and reworked them to fit into Colin’s new vision for THAW. Although stressful and overwhelming at times, it was such an adventure. There were so many moments in that course of action where I remember discussing with the company, “How does he even think of this?” or, “How does he know this will all work out?” or even, “I really wonder what his notebook looks like.” Even when things sometimes went haywire in the process, Colin was somehow capable of getting any issue with movement to resolve itself almost immediately.


Something the cast and I truly love about this piece is the engagement we have with each other on stage in the second half. Once we make it to this point, especially closer to the very end, the liveliness builds and we have so much fun feeding off of each other's energies. By showing this human connection, touch, and the sharing of emotions, Colin also wants the dance to mirror society's return back to normal life post-Covid-19. I think this connection is something truly special that will be felt through the audience. Every audience member has this joint experience from person to person, across all communities, and THAW perfectly encapsulates the tenderness of human interrelationships. Just another reason to come see this brilliant piece by Colin Connor this WinterSong!


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Caitlin's CCDT debut is coming up with performances of THAW by Colin Connor alongside dances by Carol Anderson, Rodney Diverlus, and Alyssa Martin in WinterSong - dances for a sacred season running Dec 9-11, 2022 at Fleck Dance Theatre. For details and tickets, click here.


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WATCH TEASER VIDEO: THAW - a world premiere by Colin Connor

Video by Drew Berry



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