Collaboration is Worth It

Wow! This year has flown by.

We are currently in the midst of our fall concert series, and I’ve been reflecting on the year. In particular, several people have commented to me on Cerqua Rivera’s interactive, collaborative culture. That’s something I’m very proud of, and it’s gratifying to hear their kind compliments – because it’s a lot of work. I thought I’d share a few thoughts on this part of my artistic life.

If you know Cerqua Rivera, you know that our work is unique because we bring together a diverse group of artists to make multi-disciplinary performance pieces. I don’t use the term “diverse” lightly. Every year, as I figure out which artists are returning and what new artists will join the company, I purposefully assemble a group that brings lots of different things to the table – different family histories, different professional experiences, different talents, different personalities and ways of communicating. After all, we can’t have a jazz band with 9 people playing the same instrument, and we don’t want a dance ensemble all the same either.

Then comes the hard part – helping all these talented, strong-willed people work together. Collaboration isn’t about “getting along” or “giving in.” And collaboration can have a leader. The key is to bring many voices into the conversation. When one voice dominates, we don’t get the best art out of it. When other voices – literally or artistically – harmonize, support, add to that leader, that’s when something special comes about.

Our new work in 2018 reflects different kids of collaboration. Our lead artists this year – me, Monique Haley, Joe Cerqua, Joshua Ishmon, and the amazing Pharez Whitted – work and collaborate differently. Our dance ensemble and jazz band are flexible enough to thrive within these mini-environments. That’s on purpose.

I’m so proud of our artists and the beautiful, thoughtful, and distinct new works we’ve made this year. Collaboration is worth the effort!

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