Behind the Scenes with Shawn Cusseaux

The creation of Manuel Vignoulle’s new work Heal was unlike any creative process I’ve experienced. Building a partnering piece over Zoom presented us with several unfamiliar challenges. Initially we struggled to build a physical rapport – synchronizing and merging our movements – while attending to the demands of Manuel’s choreography. This process involved a lot more conversation than the works I’ve created in the past. Our discussions helped us to untangle the mechanics of Manuel’s choreography, which were difficult to convey over Zoom. Skyler [Lubin] and I also spent a lot of time talking as a pair about how the choreography felt for each of us, and how we could adjust our movements to better support one another. As a result, we developed a deep bond that is reflected in the finished product.

Manuel based his work around relationships, recreating the give and pull between two beings. Balance is crucial in relationships, both in dance and in life. A partnership requires each person to know when to give and when to support. Once they strike a balance, trust can blossom. I will always remember how it felt to create this piece, because it forced me to come out of my shell and connect with the company members. I learned a lot about myself and Skyler through this creation, and we have developed a unique and beautiful bond.

BalletX Independence Foundation Dance Fellow Shawn Cusseaux on making Manuel Vignoulle’s new short film Heal, premiering on BalletX Beyond Jan. 20. To watch Heal in its entirety, subscribe to BalletX Beyond today!