Monday, November 23, 2009
"I set up this past weekend with lots of time for us to rehearse. It was a relief to have room to think, rather than be pushed ahead by hands on a clock. The bigger picture is becoming clearer to me, and who should do what is almost screamingly obvious. I was able to set several sections that had before just been ideas. We cut unnecessary sections with relief, and pieced other small lost sections together rather beautifully. Dancers seem less cross-eyed by my directions; we are all gaining a sense of clarity. Finally."
"I am thankful for the efforts from this group. Feedback has been honest, corrections have been remembered, and freedom to make decisions has been granted."
"We have a few weeks left; the show will be December 16, so less than a month from today. With some leaving for Thanksgiving break, I can only hope they remember the material for when we all return once the December calendar page is flipped."
"For now, I am struck with the task of publicity, programs, and making a musical score. There is a lot of work to be done outside of the studio, and it always seems to present itself when dancing becomes the most fun."
"A guest artist came to rehearsal this Saturday: Sherief Campell, a hip-hop artist who is trying to develop a Vermont company for performances. We have different styles of course, but it was fun to be a dancer for somebody else. The two roles (choreographer vs. dancer) each have their pros and cons, and since I have been stuck in director mode it felt fantastic to MOVE."
"We are using the holiday to take a break from the project, and will begin again in December."
Feel free to join us (feedback would be very helpful at this time):
Thursday, December 3 from 2 to 6 pm, Hoehl Studio
Friday, December 4 from 10:30 to 2 pm, Chase Studio
Saturday, December 5 from 5:30 to 9 pm, Chase Studio
Monday, November 16, 2009
"Mike helped me to realize that with our limited time frame, it is not a good idea to try to create an evening of unison movement with a group that right now is nowhere near unison in style and rhythm. Mike helped to direct the ladies trio (Andrea, Julie, and Lucille) using known choreographic tools, to give the movement some meaning and the dancers more of a relationship to each other. Breaking up the unison was something none of us really wanted to do, so thank goodness Mike stepped in to help direct."
"We all agreed that getting phrase work into a ‘dance piece’ form is often the hardest part of choreographing. Since right now there is little to resemble a skeleton behind the bits of work, meaning there is no notable theme or idea that ties all the bits together, it has been near to impossible for me to get excited over creating a piece of ‘work.’ I have been struggling to feel an urge to direct my movement into ‘dances,’ wanting rather to keep creating movement for movement’s sake. I am starting to realize though that the tidbits can be intriguing if they have a clear connector. Now is the time to figure out that missing link, and start piecing together what already exists."
"I started on Saturday with new ladies Bridget, Erin, Lida and Caroline. It had been about a month and a half since I had seen them dance at the audition. On the drive up to rehearsal my brain clicked into reality, and told me to play easy. We started the rehearsal by plugging into our calendars, which (scheduling) has unfortunately played an enormous role in this project. I began creating phrase work using a five-meter, and asked the dancers to follow my rhythm, direction and level in space, but encouraged them to make up their own details. I think this was a successful way to introduce the group to each other, and a good way to create unison movement that encouraged personal style."
"We then spent a full hour, from 10:25 am till 11:25 am each creating a solo. We had the music, floor and space for our similar inspiration, but I gave free reign for creation. I imagined seeing all five solos set to the same song. It was crazy to see how different five minds and bodies work. Perhaps these solos can act as the missing link to connect the other phrase work into one stream of an idea."
"I am eager for more solid time together, when people don’t have to leave in the middle of rehearsal for class, when I am not exhausted, when other things aren’t dominating all of our minds. I imagine the final push before the showing is about to occur, when dancers know they are going to present themselves, a new work ethic seems to arrive. I am less interested in standing as the lead director, and more interested in seeing how we as a group can pull it all together."
Thursday, November 19 from 6 to 9pm (Hoehl Studio, 3rd floor)
Friday, November 20 from 10 am to 2:30 pm (Chase Studio, 1st floor)
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
"Nevertheless, I can recap the highlights . . ."
"Thursday’s rehearsal gave me a chance to see the three women alone: Lucille, Andrea, and Julie. They are three extraordinarily different movers, so unison movement for them was a hard thing to watch. The movement seemed disorganized and spastic for the sole reason that their executions were so extremely different. Not a bad thing, at all, just again another project to fix and form differently. Too bad that list just keeps growing."
"I was very thankful for the relaxed time we had on Thursday, for I got to hear both Julie and Lucille’s relationship to dance in Vermont. I was finding myself very disappointed with the dance scene here (due to trying to take my first ‘professional’ dance class here in VT, but only got to sit on the floor and listen to the ‘professional' talk about himself). Trying to stay positive about it, but am feeling a bit under-inspired (and to be honest angry too). I told Lucille and Julie about my frustration, read to them my original project proposal, and asked them bluntly, how they can feel satisfied with the dance scene here in Vermont. Both stories were shocking in their own way, and helped me to see the bigger picture of whom I was working with. At the same time however, it helped me to realize that I still want (and need) a bigger, more challenging, more diverse, more mature, and more happening dance scene to feel happy. At the beginning of the project I asked, can I live happily in Vermont as a dancer? Lately, the answer to this question is ‘No.’"
"Although I have been wishing to get in my car and drive back to San Francisco, this grant will not allow me to stop researching this question, as I am only about halfway through the project. I instead have been trying to focus on where I am, and who and what surrounds me here in Vermont. It is not as full of dance as I had wished, but it is full of other things. The challenge is finding reason and interest to bring the outside world into the studio."
"Friday was a good refresher for the group, as everyone met together (Mike, Julie, Andrea, Lucille, and I). We were able to review all of the segments we have created, and clarify directions and spacing. A lot of the unison work needs more clarity in the group, and I have to challenge myself to break away from using only unison phrasework. The dancers are so patient with me, it is truly a gift. I would like to highlight each one individually, as they are so unique. Next week I am starting a new chapter to this project, by starting with an entirely new group of dancers. Bridget, Erin, Lida and Caroline. They are all very pleasing to the eye and shape, with symmetry, flexibility, and range. It will be fun."
Rehearsals for next week:
Friday, November 13: 11 am to 3 pm; Mike, Lucille, Julie, Andrea (Chase studio, floor 1)
Saturday, November 14: 9 am to 1 pm; Erin, Bridget, Lida, Caroline (Hoehl studio, floor 3)
Monday, November 09, 2009
"The October 30 rehearsal took a lot of energy, and by the end left me feeling overwhelmed. Luckily, the beginning was a blast. Mike and I started rocking out to Ron Jeremy (background music used during his years as a porn star) and I just kept adding new movement material, unsure where it was coming from. Mike sets a good pace for me, as he requests detailed instructions to movement that I, if left alone, would just assume I would remember later. Yet he is also completely willing to keep going without a slight pause."
"Julie came early to give feedback for Mike and I. She recommended we find a way to connect physically sooner in the phrase work, so that the lift mid-dance wouldn’t seem so out of place. (Yes, he literally flings me on his shoulder and carries me from one side of the room to the other in the middle of a bunch of unison dancing . . . I knew we would have to work on it.) Feedback from others almost always challenges your own ideas in an arduous way—as good as it was to have, I bit my lip at the thought of actually creating it. Mike and I had been doing a ton of unison, so incorporating a more obvious connection is a definite need-to-do."
"When in the studio, I find that I want to just keep making material, whether or not it makes sense, just to have a bulk of work to prove the style of this group. I am wondering, which will ultimately feel more satisfying: a bulk of work? Or short, clarified, sensible phrases? For this project, I am leaning toward the bulk of work goal, since the grant is geared toward helping the beginning of an artist’s project."
"Julie, Andrea, Mike, and I continued into the second hour reworking the diagonal improvisation pass we had set last week, although it wasn’t as easy to come back to as I had assumed. The individual movement assignments were present, but a bit foggy. I wonder what is a good way to keep the ideas fresh? Assign movement homework?"
"We also reviewed in depth some group phrase work, thanks to Julie speaking up. My brain gets awfully full in the studio, so it was nice to have her voice of reason."
"The third hour arrived with Lucille, proving that I was a bit ‘behind’ my intended goals for the rehearsal. When considering Lucille, I must admit, I was unsure of how to bring her into a group that had already worked for weeks together. My mind fluttered to ideas of a solo for her? Drop everything and start fresh with the four of them? I couldn’t do either, since Mike, Julie, Andrea, and I had already gotten pretty far into our previous creations. I had to keep going with what we were already in the middle of. Lucille was totally up to just join in, so I tried to be up for it too, although I could barely wrap my head around it. She was brave and joined upon cue, but I left feeling unsatisfied."
"I had spent too much time on counts, not enough on the new dynamic of the group. What is a good way to start once you add in a new member?"
"Before the hours ended, the five of us put all of the phrases together (in the order they were created), and ran through all the different sections of movement as if they were one long drawn out idea. It took ten minutes. Ten minutes for over a month’s amount of work! The ratio of work to product is always so amazing."
"I decided for next week to try a rehearsal with just women, as a way to more smoothly incorporate Lucille, and will work on a trio with Julie, Lucille and Andrea. I have a few Saturdays coming up with a trio of different women, so I think I am going to give out my same ideas twice, to the two different groups, and see how drastically (or not) they compare at the end."
Small projects with the goal of creating lots of new phrase work for a bulk of material.
Please feel free to watch, comment, join, and enjoy the rehearsals!
Thursday, November 5 from 11 to 3 pm
and Friday, November 6 from 11 to 2 pm
Chase Studio, Flynn Center, 153 Main St., Burlington
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Friday, October 23 - "I am beginning to clarify my purpose of this project. I was recently reminded by the Flynn directors that my time in the studio is not 'rehearsal' time. We are not supposed to think of the final result, nor should we be preparing for a big show. The grant is intended to provide time to answer questions through movement, to process creative ideas and themes, to mix talent, and experiment. I am used to treating studio time as work time, as I enjoy drilling phrases until they are crisp and clear, leaving with a satisfying sense of completion in some form."
"This grant is a challenge for me, asking me to focus on subtler details, honing in on creating a comprehensive 'style' that we as a group have created. Even though we will ultimately present our work in a showing, my purpose of this project is to create movement experiments without attachment to the results."
"To keep myself entertained, I have been focusing on details of joint rotation, placement of limbs, and articulation of fingers and toes. Small concepts, but when they’re paid attention to, it creates a big difference in clarity and style of a group."
"I started this rehearsal with Mike, wondering if we could be a set of movement twins. We are both large movers, tall and with a demanding presence. We cut and pasted the phrase from the audition, and it felt good to do it standing side by side. Since I am moving not watching, I am interested to hear what details we can focus on to bring our styles closer together."
"Andrea and Julie then arrived, and we began as a group by referring back to the diagonal pass theme we had worked on last week. This week instead of setting all steps and counts, we sourced their old phrases in an improvisational score. I gave different directions to each dancer—Andrea focusing on horizontal movement in arms; Julie focusing in spine initiation to move through space; Mike growing from the floor up to a stand, elbows helping the lift. All three instructions were layered on top of a general movement image—inwardly-rotated shoulders, sickled feet, with the two sides of the body wrapping around the core line."
"When you have smart movers, random ideas like this can turn into beautiful images. All three wowed me, again, with their willingness to try, and mix of contemplative mind-work with ease in body movement."
"After a show I saw this summer, created largely on the theme of improvising with initiations of the spine, I spoke with one of the dancers about the process and learned that they repeated the same idea every time they met (almost without any discussion) until it became more comfortable for each dancer and they were able to define their understanding of the concept. I think the score we created at this rehearsal would be an interesting one to come back to every week."
"Mike, Julie, and I continued into the rehearsal after Andrea left, reviewing the floor phrase we created together last week. It took most of our attention to remember the nuances, leaving little time to add on. We moved into the standing phrase between Mike and Julie, which is when I began to feel stuck. I tried repeating the phrases four times, making a minimal sequence change for every directional shift (front, left, back, right). I am unsure of my interest in this standing phrase, though I don't feel ready to throw it out. My dancers, so far, always comply, though I should have made more time to hear their feedback."
"I will be adding Lucille next week, the oldest dancer from the audition, who came with stunning poise but reluctance toward pop music and fast floor work. I plan to weave her into Julie and Mike’s standing phrase, and will try to focus on who they are as people for movement."
"Personality is important, perhaps something I should further study in all of my dancers."
"Also, what more can I tell them about what I am thinking? I've always hated feeling like an uniformed dancer, so in my switch to choreographer role I must remember their side of the experiment."
Please feel free to watch, comment, join, and enjoy the rehearsals!
The next open rehearsal is Friday, October 30 from 11 am to 2 pm in Chase Studio at the Flynn Center.