Nancy Guppy Interviews Performer Dayna Hanson

Nancy Guppy gets real with Seattle dancer, actress and filmmaker Dayna Hanson
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Dayna Hanson cracks up Nancy Guppy

Multidisciplinary performer Dayna Hanson is known for making stage work that is very smart, very funny and very strange. Her new show at On the Boards, The Clay Duke (12/5–12/8; $20;, delivers on that reputation.
COFFEE SHOP: Macrina Bakery in SoDo
DAYNA’S ORDER: A glass of water and a slice of quiche. (No actual coffee consumed.)

Nancy Guppy: Give me the elevator pitch for your new show.
Dayna Hanson: The Clay Duke is a dance/theater piece inspired by a 2010 school board shooting in Panama City, Florida—with a little Charles Bronson and Chekhov thrown in.

NG: Is this show an artistic challenge for you?
DH: Finding the right language within this hybrid dance/theater form to convey deeply ambiguous points about culture, humanity, psychology and love is challenging.

NG: You’re a filmmaker, choreographer, dancer, musician—all this from an English major. What gives?
DH: When you study literature, it takes you in so many different worlds, because literature is the study of humanity. I just want to be in the constant service of exploring the crazy, weird mysteries of what humans do and how they interact.

As an audience member, what turns you on?
Realness. I like beauty, I like a great light effect, I love watching unusual, compelling dance, but anything fake and I’m like, “See ya.”

NG: One of your key creative collaborators is your partner, Dave Proscia—when there’s a disagreement, who wins?
DH: Usually the person who’s right wins.

Is there value in working with the same people over time?
DH: Oh yeah. I have a duet with Peggy Piacenza, who I’ve been working with for 20 years, and there’s a moment where she wraps her arms around me—I can’t describe the emotional quality of that moment. Somewhere between nausea and being cradled.

NG: What has been your scariest creative moment?
DH: Every time I undertake something new, there’s this rosy kind of “full of possibility” feeling and then, when it gets close to the performance, the question becomes “Is my glorious vision going to translate into a meaningful experience for anyone else?”

Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her show, Art Zone (