Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flynn N.A.S.A. Grant Recipient Hanna Satterlee - Blog Entry #2

Friday, October 16 - "I started last week with three technically strong dancers: Mike, an ex-Jazzercise instructor; Andrea, a UVM dance student; and Julie, a yoga teacher and dancer in Burlington. They brought me a great sense of relief and excitement. I sensed that they were as hungry for the work as I was, which, as a choreographer, is a very privileged feeling."

"Andrea, Mike, and I started with a directional focus: a diagonal pass, which is a proven strong line of direction on a stage. We used fists to confirm a straight wrist aesthetic, and each developed unimportant counts of eight—unimportant because I want to focus on timing and overlapping, rather than cool movement. We need to even out the awkward space between Andrea’s height and Mike’s. I would like them to weave in and out of each other more fluidly. Of course it was the first day, but they are opposite sizes, so it could be a challenge."

"Mike, Julie, and I created a short standing phrase focusing on rhythm and dropping movements into the next. Mike is much more staccato and firm; Julie, smooth and circular. An interesting contrast, but it needs attention. We ended with a floor phrase, increasing our heart rates and shifting horizontally through space. We also did a lot of splicing movement phrases together, which we need to do more of—small pieces, repetition, breaks in between watchable dancing."

"I work by making small pieces and putting them together. Usually, what happens in the moment stays unless our gut instinct immediately throws an idea out. I have warned my group that we will create based on what happens when it happens, and whose body remembers what. The speed at which we worked was phenomenal; I was able to give movement assignments, and piece each person’s version together within minutes. All three dancers seemed comfortable with starting right in. I’m glad not to waste time."

"I am also intrigued by the idea of twin dancing: similar looking people, not relatives."

"Characteristics, attributes, style, stamina, and stance. And I am slightly obsessed with back-up dancer movement (think of a glorified step-touch). I’m hoping these ideas will be how I bring in the other chosen dancers. I envision creating a medley of music and dances, the challenge being what thread can tie it all together."

"I also need to find a proficient music editor/maker/DJ?"

"I have to keep reminding myself to stay put. Don’t focus so hard that I can’t see straight, but just STAY PUT."

Next open rehearsal is Friday, October 23 from 11am to 2 pm in Chase Studio at the Flynn Center. Please come!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Montpelier Dancer Hanna Satterlee Receives Flynn N.A.S.A. Grant

Montpelier native and dancer Hanna Satterlee is the newest recipient of the Flynn’s N.A.S.A. Grant Award. The San Francisco resident is an accomplished dancer and choreographer (as well as yoga teacher) whose previous experience includes work with Kelly Kemp, Laura Arrington Dance Company, and the All Purpose Dance Company. Satterlee’s recent return to Vermont has prompted her to explore her roots and connect with dancers in the region. The N.A.S.A Grant will create an atmosphere of collaboration between established Vermont dancers and Satterlee, who will investigate how the culture of the Green Mountain State people, nature, speed, liberalism, health, sound, trade, and effort influences movement.

Hanna is contributing weekly blog entries to provide a look into how her work is progessing.

Tuesday, October 13 - "I suppose it has been a month now, since the initial meeting about the content and expectations that come with the Flynn’s N.A.S.A. grant. A month seems like a lengthy enough time to prove I have a solid start, but I can only confess to having started an experiment."

"When I was given my keys to the Flynn, I spent the first two weeks eager and happy to lock myself in the studio and create dances for myself. Not thinking of a larger picture, I simply used the time to familiarize myself with the space, my feet with the floor, and my movement with sound. Music, I quickly realized, would be a key companion."

"Two weeks after this free-form (perhaps self-indulgent) solo dancing, it was time to host an audition. I had tried my hardest to get the word out about it—I emailed friends of friends, searched Vermont University dance programs for contacts, posted fliers, sent news blasts, and posted on craigslist, all hoping to have a large number of prospects to meet."

"I had said I wanted 10 people for the project, originally liking the idea of starting with one, and adding a dancer per week for the ten week duration. Exactly 10 people came to the audition."

"I left that evening happy for the experience, but secretly devastated that at least 30 people hadn’t shown up. In a city, I figured, the room would be crowded. Friends reminded me that one audition is not enough to see the scope of who is in the state. But after so many publicity efforts, I was drained at the thought of finding more options. I immediately wondered what I was doing, and how it was going to work."

"My original quest for this project was to find the hidden pocket of dancers in Vermont, take them in as they are, with how they have trained, and what they can creatively produce, and see what type of work we could make together. After letting the audition experience settle for a few days, I eventually felt satisfied to realize that even if the pocket here is small, there is experience and effort and range to choose from."

"Because of chaotic scheduling, I decided to forget about the number 10 and start with the strongest dancers to create a bulk of movement. I have several dancers from the audition who have agreed to join in November and December, and a few artistic friends intrigued and curious about collaborating in some form later in the process as well."

The next rehearsal is Friday, October 16 from 11:30 am to 2 pm. The public is welcome to attend any portion of my process.