Creative Work, Dance, Perfect 10

Dear Nature: Week 4

I was so excited to talk about our great company technique class in my last post, I didn’t even mention that we still got some great new work done on dances with Dear Nature in the weekend rehearsal. All the dancers learned the movement material that will accompany another of Jessica Temple’s poems (Gregarious), and the class phrases will be used in a solo for Christina during Sun Kiss. (We also reviewed “Ocean” and “Phrase in 3’s.”

So, on to Week 4! This week was mostly about filling in the missing pieces or details of the work. Once I pieced together Christina’s solo from phrase-work she already knew and gave our Gregarious material its spacing, the dancers knew almost the entire piece. What was missing were all the transitions and having the dancers really understand the flow and scope of the work. They knew all the parts but did not know how they fit together (mostly because I did not know how they fit together until this week as well).

We review all the material as I start to give the dancers the order and deal with the details of getting dancers on and off “stage” – knowing we are working in a space with no wings or “backstage.” The dancers are essentially onstage even when I take them out of the performance space, so that needed to be dealt with, as well. These are somewhat the “boring” details of the dance-making process, but once complete, we are able to see the whole work very close to performance-ready, and that is exciting!

This week I also started the costuming process. While I’ve had ideas about costuming since before even starting rehearsals with the dancers, those original ideas have changed a bit (necessitated by the movement vocabulary), and until this week, I had not tried out any costume ideas of the dancers. So we test out a few dresses, a few skirts, and some crinolines and tutus. What have I decided on? Well, you’ll just have to wait until the premiere next week to see!

(Code f.a.d. Artistic Director)

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¬†above: rehearsal photos with “stand-in” costumes

Creative Work, Dance, El Anatsui, Finding Place, Guest Dancers

Rehearsal 7: How does it end?

While most may believe the ending of a dance is naturally the last part to be created, that actually rarely happens with my work. I usually know how I want a piece to end sometime near the beginning of the process. I recall, for example, making Indulge – the idea for the ending of the dance actually came up in our first brainstorming session between video artist Colby Hoke, dancer Natalee Campbell, and myself. (If you haven’t yet seen Indulge, you’ll just have to trust me that it is a memorable ending – involving the consumption of almost an entire red velvet cake…)

So, true to form, the ending for Finding Place occurred to me rather early in our process, though I hadn’t had the chance to map out the exact choreography with the dancers until this (our seventh) rehearsal. Seeing the material with our music, with all those dancers, it just looked better than I could have imagined! The projected video is also a huge part of the ending especially; we will be projecting an image of El Anatsui’s Group Photo throughout the closing of the work. The dancers become the living embodiment of this sculpture installation; they bring those ideas about community and who we associate with to life. I’m sorry that the dancers will not be able to ever see the work in its full realization, but that is the plight of the live concert dancer. You can watch videos of the work after the fact, but it is never quite as memorable as being there in the moment. I’m just so grateful there continue to be wonderful dancers to choose to perform and create those moments (even while sacrificing ever seeing them for themselves).

costume imageAs we come closer to the end of our process, we also began nailing down all those other details for the performance, like costumes. While I initially contemplated ocean-themed costuming (blues, teals, and greens in flowing fabrics), I had a few dancers try on some jumpsuits in the Code f.a.d. costume arsenal, and for some reason those just hit a nerve. Now to complete the idea by finding jumpsuits for a dozen dancers (perhaps minus our one man who will surely be fine in pants and a shirt)… A few of the jumpsuits and rompers found can be seen in the photo above; I can only have faith we’ll find enough that function together by the big premiere.

(Code f.a.d. Artistic Director)

The premiere of Finding Place will be Saturday, July 7, 2012 at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Performances will be held at 2pm and 3pm; visit for more info.