INTERVIEW: SUZZANNE PONOMARENKO | ITSLIQUID

INTERVIEW: SUZZANNE PONOMARENKO

Interviews | November 22, 2022 |

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

Interview: Suzzanne Ponomarenko
Luca Curci talks to Suzzanne Ponomarenko during the LONDON CONTEMPORARY 2022 – 4TH EDITION, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.

Suzzanne has been creating, producing, and performing dance in New York City since 2010. As a performer, she has danced with Yvonne Rainer, Richard Move, Lone Larson, Buglisi Dance Theatre, Catapult Entertainment, and the Stanley Love Performance Group at many locations including Lincoln Center Plaza, The Whitney Museum, MoMA, The Guggenheim, Singapore International Arts Festival, The Joyce Theater, New York Live Arts, Kampnagel, and multiple international tours in Germany (Reset Production Co.), Lithuania, Israel, and France. She has produced multiple shows and fundraisers including The Exodus Road fundraiser with Fooju Dance, The Puerto Rican hurricane relief fundraiser with Heather Robles in cooperation with Gibney Dance, The Senior Care Project in NYC and New Jersey, and A Chance to Dance, in Guatemala. Her choreography has been shown at multiple venues in NYC, New Jersey, Cleveland, Detroit (Detroit Museum of the Arts), Germany, London (ITSLIQUID GROUP), and Guatemala (produced by GO! Guatemala). 

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Suzzanne Ponomarenko – I view art as originating from the most intelligible part of human existence and see it as a form of communication that comes from a profoundly deep and primitive place located inside all sentient life; expressing itself through a variety of mediums including dance, song, painting, photography, costuming, etc. It reaches above the realm of ordinary language and what society views as intelligence and connects one another in a way that I personally believe to be sacred and life-sustaining. Engaging in art both as a creator and spectator has been the great privilege of my life.

LC – What are you currently working on?
SP – I am currently putting a show together for a gallery space called, THE EVAC, located in the Lower East Side of NYC. I am working with six dancers to create a melody of my most recent work, all that center around themes of connection, love, joy, friendship, and how to keep an open heart when living in a world of darkness. 

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
SP – The most challenging part about creating my artwork is that I work with human beings. With this comes many limitations including: scheduling issues, injuries, illness, death of friends or loved ones, hardships, break-ups, great days, bad days, and all the ups and downs of human life. My manifesto is that I work with the human first and the artist second, meaning, if one of my dancers is having a bad day, rehearsal may look like listening to how they are doing, more than making dance. I believe that if a dancer feels supported and safe in a space, they flourish onstage and in the studio.

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
SP – Absolutely! I love feedback and descriptions of what landed for them after viewing my pieces. Art is communication. I am communicating to the audience and when they communicate verbally back to me with their thoughts and opinions, it is extremely helpful, and I take every comment to heart. This, to me, is how we create a dialogue, friendship, and community. 

LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
SP – As a choreographer, I pursue artistic themes around what I experienced in life at that moment in time. I do not need to go looking for any outside inspiration, the total range of the human experience is inside of me. When I quiet down and tune in, I have access to everything I need. If I feel stuck, I get inspiration from the talented dancers that I have great luck working with. 

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
SP – My whole process is entirely intuitive (outside the occasional commission). Usually, it starts with a song that I happen to come by that I cannot stop listening to. This usually turns into wanting to connect to the music with my body. From this, arises a theme that the song and movement in combination inspire in me. I call this the “vibe” of the piece. Once the “vibe” is found, like a fire, I keep feeding it logs of the same vibe until it feels complete. This includes, dancers (how many), costuming, sometimes lighting, soundscape, and video.

LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
SP – I often show my work on stages alongside other choreographers, and I found this exhibition refreshing and inspiring. It was so lovely to connect and view work from a variety of artists of different mediums and share the love and passion for art and art making. Often times, dance is the ugly stepsister of the arts, most people go their whole lives and never see a dance show, but every common folk will walk into a museum and see a painting or sculpture. I believe this separation between human and non-human based art forms is something I would like to build a bridge between in the showing of my own work. And this exhibition for me, was just that. 

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
SP – The piece I showed was a solo entitled, EMERGE. I discovered the song for this dance, Machi, by Peia, about 6 years ago and was immediately captivated and obsessed. I knew I needed to make a dance from this song, I just did not know when or why. Winter of 2021, I made a solo on dancer, Lauren Jaeger, entitled, DESCENT, which was about grief, loss, and the suffering of our planet, for a film project. After I completed that project, I knew immediately I wanted to make a summer version of the solo that was in the mood of “phoenix rising from the ashes.” I scheduled studio space for Lauren and myself to make this new solo, and a few days before rehearsal this song came back into my realm, and I just knew, “this is it.” And I made the dance in four days effortlessly. It was a gorgeous process and it felt like the stars aligned to make this solo that both Lauren and I hold so close to our hearts. 

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SP – I enjoyed every step of the process of cooperating with ITSLIQUID GROUP. I felt everyone was extremely responsive and supportive. I enjoyed getting to know the company and being a part of what will be my first of many events. I look forward to sharing my dances in the future and connecting with others who love art as much as I do!

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
SP – ITSLIQUID GROUP is a producing platform that gives space for artists to showcase their work in major capitals of the world. It was started by Luca, and through his own passion for art and connecting and showing artists’ work, has grown into an organization that is continually putting on exhibitions and making art accessible to many.  

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Image courtesy of Suzzanne Ponomarenko

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