Saturday, March 01, 2008

Staying a Step Ahead

posted by Rachel Siegel
Siegel is one of two current N.A.S.A. grant awardees. She will be blogging about the progress of her work in progress, leading up to an informal showing on Sunday, April 13 at 4 pm.

These dance rehearsals are the highlights of my week. I am so happy to be making art again. What a relief to get out of the minutia that makes up most of my time in charge of little kids and a household.

Here is some of what I’ve been working on:

I wanted to get away from the hierarchal feel of the two groups being called A and B, especially since the A group was the group with more dance experience. So they are now called the Stars and the Moons. (Then it was pointed out that “stars” has a connotation of fame….) Each group is fabulous to work with. They’ve learned almost all of the movement vocabulary and we’re working hard to iron out the details of how to make the phrases work in a round. The spacing and the timing need to be just right for it to work. Working with the Stars is challenging since most of them have not done this kind of work before and learning to use peripheral senses (vision, sound, “group sense,” inner clock) takes a lot of practice. Working with the Moons is hard because it’s a little content heavy. Since I’m really interested in the relationships we can represent using the dance phrase, not the phrase itself, we’d be able to represent a lot more variations with less content. Too many variations on a three-minute theme and we’ll end up with a five-hour showing. Yikes.

I’m trying to stay a step ahead of the participants and have been working out what I consider to be the “collage” part of the choreographic experience. That is, I’m coming up with the exact variations of how the dance phrase will be done (e.g., James and Winnie in unison upstage simultaneously with Laura and Kirsten in a round downstage, everyone in chaos, everyone in unison except one person, etc.) and then stringing all the parts together. In another week I’m going to actually teach this sequencing to the participants. It’s hard to believe I’m that far along in the process already.

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