The beginnings of a dance are easy, exciting, invigorating, exhausting, and difficult. I know those things may not seem to coexist, but believe me, in creative work, they certainly do. As I begin any new dance work, I am flooded with ideas – about the movement, the stage, the costumes, the props, the film, the music, the dancers – really everything. The tough part is focusing those ideas and really getting to work! It’s fun to sit around and think about what a dance might be, but it is another thing to get to the real business of making everything fit together into a coherent piece of art.
But, it is that time to work. Before heading into my first rehearsal with the dancers several things happened:
I connected with a new composer for our company (Julia Price) and selected one of her compositions for use in our dance (Sun Kiss).
I was inspired by several poems by my long-time friend (Jessica Temple) and asked her to record them for us (sound clips coming soon!).
I ordered (and received) foam flooring to use in our show – both for color and to protect us from any uneven areas in the Artspace floor.
No sewing has started on the costume-front, but I have colors (yellow, blue, green) and textures (voluminous, fluffy ruffles) in mind at this point.
Movement is always the tough part – to start finding your vocabulary for the dance. A few things came right away, but mainly the movement was slowly draw out of my body, through hours spent just moving (improvising) in my small home studio. I did have two solid phrases going into the first rehearsal, which is quite a lot of dance to have so early (but we do not have a lot of time before this show, thus the hurry). I’m calling the first our “16-count Gesture Phrase” and the second our “Phrase in 3’s.” I also had an idea to play around with to have the dancers help generate a bit of movement if we had some extra time in that first rehearsal.
Time for dancers to join the process!
These first few rehearsals are all about throwing the material at the dancers: seeing what works and what doesn’t, seeing who thrives with which phrases, and not worrying too much about the details at this point. I taught the “Gesture Phrase” first, then started putting this phrase into a spatial plan (formations, transitions and levels/dynamic changes). Knowing we only have a short amount of time, as soon as I feel the dancers have this in their bodies, we move on to the “Phrase in 3’s.” This movement is learned all together, then is put into a duet, with timing and spatial changes for the downstage dancer.
I watch Natalee and Kristina perform the duet and am struck by how different they are as dancers. In my mind, I envisioned the duet as two facets of the same personality but what I am seeing is two completely different people having a similar life experience. They are in two different places, having different responses to the same situation. Perhaps this is what the piece is about: seeing how different people live in an environment. When do they approach a problem the same? When do they look completely separate? When do they help each other?
I think these are good questions to ponder as I continue to process.
(Code f.a.d. Artistic Director)