Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hanna Satterlee, Flynn N.A.S.A. Grant Recipient - Blog #8

Wednesday, December 8 - "Coming back after a break was refreshing, uplifting, and terribly intimidating. I spent my Thanksgiving weekend in Missouri visiting my dad and stepmother, and thus was completely away from the VT scene, giving me the time and space I needed to process what we have done during this project and what we are about to do. While in Middle America, I went on several long runs, fueled by my thoughts about this work, coming up with doubts and questions I didn't realize I needed to process."

"Thus, when I came back to the studio with my dancers, I had a greater sense about what was and wasn't going to make me happy. Of course, seeing my dancers again brought great relief—they are a delightful group of human beings that are equally concerned and excited about presenting our 10 week process to the public."

"Starting on Thursday night Mike, Lucille, Julie, and I spent the usual after-break time reviewing steps and counts. Lucille put in great effort towards her solo; I have appreciated her insight and meaning towards the piece. Her solo vaguely resembles my inner struggle of whether to stay in Vermont or move back to the city . . . whether to establish myself in a small community, or retreat to a larger scene where I can be under someone else’s direction. Seeing her put these ideas into movement (improvised every time) has really made me question my struggle in the first place. There really is no wrong answer; I have a lifetime to try both."

"On Friday, since Andrea was still away, our group piece felt awful. Since it is still not 'completed,' we were left fumbling to get a greater sense of this work, its placement in the showing, and its (many hidden) meanings. There was concern that because of the massive amount of different moves and steps, it tends to look like improvisation, or a sloppy mess of not-well-thought-up steps. Unsure of whether or not Andrea’s absence was to blame, we left the group piece alone and began brainstorming ways to introduce the phrase work to the audience before they see this group piece, as a way for them to later reference the movement."

"Mike and I also got to spend a chunk of time on our lifts in our duet. He has been patient to lift a lot of us girls . . . while teaching us to not grip on to him! He is remarkably strong, and this shows in many moments in the work. So, after our duet session I sent him to work on his solo, and it seemed that strength was the main character. I asked him to try a new 'trick' (balance, inversion, flip, etc) in the same place on the floor, five times in a row. During his solo we can see an internal mental struggle that often comes with making or completing dance, and can read how physical strength both helps and hinders a person."

"Saturday evening was a late night with my group of ladies, who come each time with such wide eyes. We got to work right away, reviewing what we had quickly set last week. The middle section was clarified, and the piece as a whole began to make sense. I am using similar music (by the same musician, Albert Mathias) for this group piece, as the other group piece. It is electronic in sound, with a steady pulse and melody that lasts for nine and 16 minutes respectively. Albert’s music spoke to me in an amazing way the first time I was able to dance with him, and has remained some of my favorite music to make work to since. It sends me into a trance-like state, and gives me space to move without getting stuck on thoughts or verbal reminders. I wanted to use it to suggest that state of making art, the long drawn out days when you can only focus on one thing for hours, the steady pulse of our ability to keep coming back to work, and the familiar melody representing our personal style that is consistent in all work that we make. As performers though, it is important to find moments of stillness and quiet if using such demanding sound. That is one last thing I hope to include for their group piece."

"During our dinner break we began the customary conversation about being a dancer in Vermont. I had randomly met and talked to several established dancers in Vermont over the past week, who presented their side in my argument, opening my eyes to the notion that yes, Vermont is small, but many good dance artists do make a happy, healthy living here. Though my project has never meant to downplay anyone else’s VT dance experience, I was getting information that my tone of voice may be coming across the wrong way. I brought up this idea to the ladies, and Lida (an established Vermont dance teacher, solo artist, and group performer) also felt strongly about me needing to be careful that what I write to the public is what I have been saying and presenting in the studio. I was glad to be confronted, because I certainly only meant to talk about these thoughts from a personal standpoint. It made me realize how clouded my head was during the beginning of this grant. I was full of doubt and really did not believe that I was going to be able to create interesting work."

"After the rehearsal I was eager to write my program over, to be sure all of my words were words that I really wanted to say. It took me way too many hours, but I finally deleted it all to be simple and blunt about the purpose of this project to me. With all of the activity and focus around the show, my excitement is growing. With it, I have been given extra supportive energy from fellow dancers and friends, which is just what I need to follow through with this last, most challenging yet fun part of putting all the work into one big evening. We have five rehearsals left as a group, dedicated not to fine tuning or polishing the material, but to giving the evening more imagery, consistency, excitement, and breadth."

Open rehearsals are still open!

Thursday, December 10 from 5-9 pm, Hoehl Studio
Friday, December 11 from 10:30 am-3 pm, Chase Studio
Saturday, December 12 from 2-9 pm, Chase Studio

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