Thursday, February 17, 2011

dance process journal #6: the hat factor

Now we are working on adding a new layer to the dance; here are clips from our last 2 rehearsals.  After setting up some basic guidelines for the hat behaviors, I just need the dancers to start moving so that I can take a look, even if things are still rough.  I need to see them working with the information they have so far, so that I can figure out what else I need to tell them.  My concept for the movement comes partly from my instincts as a performer, and isn't always verbal in my mind... I'm sensing I what I feel viscerally when I imagine the movement happening.  But as I work with the dancers, I have to find ways to put more of that into words.  In watching them work with the material, I find out what I need to clarify verbally, what limitations I might need to add or remove, and what we might need to change altogether.  Unexpected challenges and questions arise.  Sometimes there's a lot going on at once, and it takes time to address each detail.  We still have a lot of refining to do but I think you will see that the "hat person" choreography starts to come more into focus by the end of this video clip.

I gave the dancers a number of movements and gestures to use while wearing the hat, and they also have guidelines for how to approach the other dancers and how to interact with them.  Within these guidelines there is still room for spontaneity, and anyway since the pushing movement is somewhat unpredictable, the hat person cannot perform their interactive actions the same way each time.  The dancers now have even more directives to remember while they are performing, and they also have to remain open to spontaneous choices and adjustments. 

For these rehearsals we are also working in a much larger studio than before, and the walls are somewhat different to the other studio's walls.  Because of these environmental changes, we can now also begin to figure out how far apart the dancers can get from one another, and how to bring them closer together at times so that they can interact.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

dance process journal #5: wall walking

I want to thank my dancers again for trusting me to share our rehearsal process here.  Many beautiful things happen in rehearsals that no one else usually sees, and it's a special thing to be able to share these moments. 

In the last few rehearsals we've been finding different ways of going up the wall.  Today, we started to intertwine the wall walking with other elements:  the pushing action/conflict phrase; the "stepping on" or "treading" action; and the "leaning" improvisation.  Each of the dancers also has a personal movement motif that they are sometimes mixing in here.  I haven't shown you very much of their personal movement yet but you'll see more of that soon.

It's so exciting to see this movement language becoming second nature for the dancers.  They are beginning to use it almost instinctively and to take it in new directions on their own.  That's the goal; since we'll be performing this dance in many different environments, it needs to be adaptable. 

What you see here represents the basic foundation of the dance.  We're creating a way of moving, but the specifics of what happens will be different each time.  For me that's so much of what is interesting about this piece.  The dancers have an objective and they have to figure out how to achieve it -- but they have to invent things anew each time, because each time they dance it they face new challenges.  So, the movement stays fresh and spontaneous.  This work demands continual creativity from the dancers and they must also maintain a strong sensitivity to one another.

This foundation will continue to develop -- but now that we have the basics established, I can start to bring in other parts of the dance.  I needed to create the foundation before I could see how the other (very different) parts of the dance will relate to this base.