Subject:Matter is gearing up to push the boundaries of “Swan Lake” with “Some Pulp,” a show that re-imagines the music, style and gender dynamics of the classical ballet as a way to break out of the mold of concert dance.
While Subject:Matter choreographer and founder, Ian Berg, is a senior at Boston Conservatory, the cutting-edge tap group has members ranging from ages 19-28. For “Some Pulp,” the group is teaming up with New England Conservatory student Steve Bass who has composed a score of swing, Afro-Cuban, Latin, mambo and rumba music based on the music of Swan Lake for his .
Berg, who is trained in classical dance, says that he wants Subject:Matter to push against many aspects of that world.
“Those aspects mainly revolve around the fact that dancers and their bodies were treated as only that — which is, bodies — and the way that most training for concert dance forms works is that they try to make dancers that can fit into a mold,” Berg says.
One way that Berg hopes to combat these issues is by giving his company members artistic voices. He explains that the group utilizes improvisation heavily as an outlet for the members’ creativity.
“The improvisational voice and the choreographic voice in tap dance are really, for me at least, one and the same,” Berg says.
Subject:Matter also aims to blur the line between performers and audience members in a variety of ways, including tapping in the audience or offstage. The name “Some Pulp” itself works toward this end, as Berg explains that the dancers give the audience members a “shapeless mass of material” and hope that they will interpret it in their own way. There’s even a designated time in the show for audience members to tell the dancers how they understood the performance.
“Some Pulp” will also challenge the hypermasculine and ultra-feminine roles present in “Swan Lake.” Berg explains that there will be some “gender-bending elements” and that many of the duets won’t be heteronormative.
The show promises many surprises and creative twists, including a handcuffed performance in lieu of the famous Little Swans dance, in which four ballet dancers typically lock hands. Due to the emphasis on creativity and improvisation, Berg emphasizes that each show will be unique.
Subject:Matter will present “Some Pulp” on March 11 at New England Conservatory’s Brown Hall and May 25-26 at the Armory in Somerville. NEC show is free; Somerville tickets are $20.