Until recently the Los Angeles-based choreographer Lula Washington did not use e-mail. Actually, she resisted most forms of technology. Her dance company had a Web site; Ms.Washington just hadn’t visited it. So it’s somehat interesting that a few years ago she found herself working with one of the most technologically innovative directors in Hollywood.
Ms. Washington, whose company is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and will be performing at Peak Performances@Montclair beginning on Thursday, helped choreograph the ritual movement and body language for the Na’vi people in James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar.” Dancers in her company also helped provide motion for the characters through performance-capture technology. Ms. Washington, who grew up in the Watts section of Los Angeles, worked with Alvin Ailey and specializes in reflecting the African-American experience through movement. She speaks very softly, but her bright poppy-red lipstick hints at her feistiness and strength. Her new piece, “www.connections.2010,” which is having its world premiere on Thursday, is inspired by the ways people connect and expose themselves through social networking on the Web.
We talked to the choreographer at the Ailey Studios in midtown Manhattan about her experience working on the film. Here are excerpts from the conversation: