In Conversation with Tatiana Desardouin of Passion Fruit Dance Company

Passion Fruit Dance Company will be bringing their work Dance Within Your Dance to our In the Park series this year! Passion Fruit, based in New York, is a street/club dance and educational company, founded in 2016 by Tatiana Desardouin, composed of three core members: Mai Lê Hô, Lauriane Ogay and Tatiana. We spoke with Tatiana, Choreographer and Art Director for Passion Fruit, about the work and the upcoming festival:

GD: What about your work are you most excited to share with the audience?

T: I look forward to sharing all the intricacies of our dance styles through women’s bodies, and sharing our journey to find our grooves in street and club dance. In other words, the process of finding our identity. This is an excerpt, but we hope it will be enough for the audience to feel the difference between moving and dancing, where dancing is defined in a different way in Afro-descendant dances than in Euro-centric dances. Most importantly, we hope that the audience will be able to feel our personal grooves during our performance. Since the piece is about the “Groove”, and therefore about black culture, we hope that the audience will be inspired by it and interested in its meaning, the “why” of the Groove.

Photo by Loreto Jamlig

GD: What was your biggest takeaway from the process of creating this work? Has the work shifted over the past few years?

T: The full work is 65 minutes long and is usually followed by a conversation/lecture about race and the importance of preserving black culture. The lecture/conversation portion has become more structured, so the way we deliver the message we want to get across is more effective.

In addition, we usually open the piece with the projection of Lauriane Ogay’s photographic work, where you can see the shadows of our bodies grooving as we overlay the photos. The photographic work is a series of images captured in the street and club dance scene, in clubs, performances or battles, as a tribute to the community and the countless grooves shared in different spaces. 

In the original piece, there is also a projection of interviews with people from different backgrounds and professions around the world, who were asked “What is the groove? The video montage evolved in a more creative and immersive way, as five projectors surround the audience. We wanted them to feel surrounded by grooves while listening to the interviews.

Also the first version premiered in 2017 at BAAD!Theater (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance) after a residency called “Dance Your Future” curated by Pepatiàn organization and BAAD!Theater. I had to turn the piece into a duet with Mai Lê Hô and I, because Lauriane Ogay tore her ACL at the time. So I made an adapted version of the piece that was always intended to be a trio. Once Lauriane was completely healed, I put her back in the piece.

My biggest takeaways is the patience it required from the three of us to create and complete the work. It took me 100 of hours to create it. We started the process long before we got our first residency, then Mai Lê and I waited for Lauriane to get better and the final version was finally performed in 2020 in Washington D.C. at Dance Place. This piece is very symbolic for the company in that sense, but also for its social justice aspect, where I use it as a socially engaged art project to invite people to understand black culture and educate on the “why” of the emergence of this culture through the simple (yet very complex) act of grooving.

Lastly, our friendship is very special, it’s not always easy to work with friends, but I am really grateful to have them. We were friends before I even started the company,  I’m amazed by their trust, support in the process and their understanding of their privilege, their position as a guest within black culture (as I am too in a different way and level of course…) and their willingness to advocate for black culture. We know each other so well that it makes the process so easy in my different works. I really feel it when we perform together. It’s a pure joy and blessing!!

Photo by Loreto Jamlig

GD: This is the first year the GD Festival is showcasing both live and live streamed versions of artist’s works. Can you speak about the opportunity to perform in front of live audiences again as well as view your work digitally?

T: Fortunately, we were able to perform online in 2020 for different online festivals and we started to perform again in person in early 2021 at the Guggenheim with another piece called “Trapped” when the theaters were just starting to open. Since then we’ve given several public performances. But it’s amazing to travel outside the United States to perform it. This is the second time we’ve performed it in Canada, and just to share it in another country is amazing for us. We really miss traveling for the dance and connecting with different audiences. Even though we know the groove doesn’t feel the same digitally, it’s always a pleasure to share with more people through the online medium.

It’s really an amazing opportunity to share our world, and we hope to tour with the full piece in Canada in the future.

You can see Passion Fruit’s Dance Within your Dance by donation at our In the Park series, happening on June 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Visit our festival page to see the full festival schedule!

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