en masse | 2009
Commissioned by the Walker Art Center
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis, MN 2009
2010 City Pages Best of Award for Best Dancer
2009 Minnesota Dance Sage Award for Outstanding Design
2009 Minnesota Dance Sage Award Nominated for Outstanding Performance
Choreography and Direction
John Koch and Vanessa Voskuil
Crane Adams, Indira Addington, Diane Anderson, Jeffrey Berger, Florence Brammer, Helen Buron, Joshua Carter, Jay Cai, Suzie Cheng, Phillip Countryman, Dane L. Cree, Mary Davies, Rae Eden, Angelica Erickson, Jessica Fiala, Pedro Fonseca, Ryan Gonzalez, Elana Gravitz, Kara Greshwalk, Rudy Hansen, Anne Hanson, Launa Helder, Sarah Henning, Kris Herberg, Melanie Holland, Neal Jahren, Rochelle James, April Kaisen, Stacy Lee King, Rebekah Knauer, Emily Kroeck, Maria La Nave, Renee Lepreau, Kimberly Lesik, Robert Loomer, Victoria Nohl, Joan Madden, Dave Madson, Virginia McBride, Kathy Moran, Natalie Neal, Erin O’Connell, James O'Neill, Valerie Overby, Gretchen Pearson, John Pederson, Priscilla Pope, Michelle Raczkowski, Tammy Ray, Elle Richards, Anna Reichert, Tara Rowe, Kyle Samejima, Sammy Samejima, Maija Saulitis, Velleda Schervee, Sandra Shallcross, Nate Sit, Tamara Statz, Erica Sun, Rachel Svihel, Sophia Teeple, Mari Titcombe, Karis Thompson, Benjamin Tufte, Vanessa Voskuil, Stuart Wiberg, Mike Williams, Amanda Wolf.
En masse is a grand, pulsing, unpredictable body of communal experience designed with the intention that anyone, regardless of background or barrier, can participate. En masse attracted 80+ volunteer participants. Participants joined the project from all areas of the community. The bulk of the work was inspired by the rehearsal process among the discussions of the participants during a time of economic hardship and the outbreak of H1N1 virus.
Thematically, En masse grapples with the world's growing and evolving consciousness and the collective animal power of the masses. It explores a simultaneously individual and global human spirit, moving in perpetual conflict against itself towards an ever-present harmony. Ultimately it is a celebration of coming together and a call to continue to cross barriers.
"...like a giant organism seeking a higher purpose"
"...fascinating....can't stay unmoved....there's no denying the charisma of the crowd. A group this large is magic; there's no looking away."
"Voskuil skillfully taps into...humanity's vulnerabilities as much as our strengths through simple demonstrations of conflict and cooperation."
"...humanity at its worst...and its best..."en masse" left one with faith in one’s own and other’s humanity..."
“What an honor, what a privilege and what a healing experience this has been.”
– Kyle Samejima
“[En masse] has inspired me to do more creative things where I can be seen and heard. None of that would have been possible if you hadn't created a space that was comfortable to work in. This whole experience ended up being thoroughly healing for me. On opening night . . .I immediately felt such a sense of pride and gratitude for being able to work through my fears. That moment was one of the best gifts I've ever received!”
– Participant in en masse
“I’m amazed at your ability to give us something so beautiful that we can call our own.”
– Launa Hedler
“It really transformed how I feel about group dynamics and working together.”
– Tamara Statz
“I have waves of emotion come over me, at these last few rehearsals, sometimes when simply walking in a circle with others. It’s hard to say what, exactly. It is definitely something spiritual that is going on here. Your positive energy, beaming smile, and ever-so-generous heart has coaxed me to a kind-of reconnection with others that I so needed.”
– Kathy Moran
“What a great positive experience and atmosphere you created . . . this experience has allowed me to test the limits of my comfort and to branch out into new creative expressions. I’m so grateful for that!”
– Participant in en masse
“I have been thoroughly impressed by your level of organization, inspiration, positivity, respect and talent.”
– Jim O’Neil
“This has been a transformative experience for me. Thank you for your generosity and loving presence.”
– Virginia Mcbride
“Thank you for your guidance and patience with all of us in en masse. You pulled something together truly beautiful. Seeing people of different shapes, sizes, backgrounds, genders, dance experience, it was a truly humbling experience.”
– Natalie Neal
The confessionals were shot at the cast party of en masse. The performers were asked during the creative process not to comment on the work until after the last performance. After the last performance, it was promised that they would have a chance to comment on anything that they would like.