ASU grad student brings movement to Binary Theater Company

Graduate student and ASU theater performance teacher Chelsea Pace is introducing “/impulse/,” an innovative movement piece produced by the Binary Theater Company.

“/impulse/,” a non-scripted and heavily choreographed production starring undergraduate students, explores the relationship and natural instincts for sex and violence.

“/impulse/” is a work of Broken Leg Collective, an artist group that was founded by Pace collaboratively works together to create various pieces. Twenty members of BLC are working in various roles to produce “/impulse/.”

Pace, director and choreographer of “/impulse/,” answered a few questions for The State Press.


The State Press: What inspired the piece?

Chelsea Pace: Two years ago, this piece started as an image I had of this couple sitting in a living room, quietly reading their paper. Then, the couch exploded.

From there, I started working with this idea of exploring the impulse for violence as opposed to just exploring the acts of violence that we often see in theater.

I was interested in exploring the cost of violence and the moments right before and after. I’ve always believed that sex and violence are linked; however, the expression of those impulses differs from person to person.

A lot of these expressions have to do with how we were raised and societal expectations of right and wrong. I’m interested in asking both my performers and my audience where we cross the line.

SP: What is your experience with movement? What is your cast members’ experience?

CP: I come out of a musical theater tradition; I’m a dancer and a fight choreographer and specialize in staging intimacy.

My performers have a range of movement experiences from martial arts to dancing to students with only a sports background. My cast has a broad range of movement skills and abilities.

SP: What is a typical rehearsal day?

CP: We take a moment to check in and connect on a personal level. The work has been focused on teaching new skills. Everyday the performers learn a new skill and we incorporate that new skill, into choreography. For example, they learn to throw a punch and then we’ll stage the bar fight. Not only are they learning that day’s choreography, but also they are learning a wide range of stage combat technique.

SP: What message do you want the audience to take away from your “/impulse/”?

CP: I’m hoping they go away with the question: Where do you draw your line? The piece isn’t about violence or sex; it’s about actual human relationships between people. I’m trying to represent them as faithfully as possible, so that the audience can draw their own lines. I’m not interested in dictating that line through this piece. We are telling the story so people can draw their own conclusions.

SP: What are the biggest challenges in directing a movement piece?

CP: The challenge is that we are staying away from linear storytelling and traditional narrative. We are trying to link vastly different scenarios in a way that’s still compelling. The choreography is very difficult and having the cast members take part in graphic actions of violence and intimacy. There is an ethical challenge as well.


“/impulse/” opens Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and runs until Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. at the Prism theater on the northeast corner of Rural Road and University Drive.


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