Monday, March 28, 2011

dance process journal #10: first showing/open rehearsal

Last night we had our first public showing of the new dance and I was really happy with how things went.  I have written a new song for this dance which we debuted in this performance; I'll write more in another post soon about how we are integrating the song with the choreography.  In this post, I want to show you how the dancing is developing as we begin to perform it in public.

This was the first time bringing together some of the Philly and NYC dancers.  We only had a short time together in the space beforehand, and it quickly became clear that we would need to make a number of adjustments in order to do the piece with more than 3 dancers.  We worked on some of those changes before the show, but I felt we weren't quite ready to perform it with everyone so I decided to show the dance with 3 performers first, and then right afterward to present an open rehearsal with all 5 dancers so that the audience could see some of our choreographic process.

The first video below is an excerpt from what we showed with 3 dancers.  You'llt notice that if the hat falls off of the "hat person," everyone now goes into their personal/individual movement.  You might also notice that you can hear the dancers breathing more heavily in this clip; I think that this is due to the energy of performance.  Performing a dance in public usually gives a dance a heightened energy, along with some amount of unpredictability.  One audience member commented to me that she enjoyed hearing the dancers breathing and I agreed... this was a small, intimate space so the audience was very close to the performers and could really hear and see many details.

I was very excited by what happened in the open rehearsal (below).  I am speaking throughout this video so you will hear me describing our work to the audience.  For one thing, we had to figure out how to adjust the pushing and other improvisations now that the dancers are not just working in pairs.  When we first tried 2 or more people pushing one person, it just looked like they were all struggling with each other and it wasn't clear that someone was being pushed (you will see in the video how we made that more clear).  I also decided that the hat person must now split their focus and make sure to go back and forth relating to all of the dancers, in order to tie the piece together.  The dancers quickly incorporated the changes that I asked for, and by the end things got pretty thrilling.

I think/hope that the audience enjoyed seeing some of our rehearsal process.  Thanks again to the dancers who performed in this show:  Loren Groenendaal, Rebekah J. Kennedy, Gessica Paperini, Katherine Kiefer Stark, and Barbara Tait -- you all did a wonderful job!  We still have some more changes to make but I think we will be able to figure them out next weekend, when dancers from both cities will be performing together again.  It will be a real adventure since that will be our first time taking the dance outside.  I'm sure that I will have a lot to write about here next time!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

dance process journal #9: costume peek

We have our first showing coming up this week! We will be showing the dance as a work-in-progress and I've added more dancers, plus a few other additions that you'll see next time. Hopefully I'll have some footage to show you from the performance. For now, this short clip gives a peek at our costumes:

We have several showings scheduled in the near future; you'll find dates and details at Mereminne Calendar.

Monday, March 7, 2011

dance process journal #8: the New Yorkers

So here's another reason for the video journal:  I'm mostly working in Philadelphia right now, but I also wanted to bring in some of my NYC dancers.  This online journal helps the New Yorkers learn the structure of the piece, so that when I do rehearse in NYC we can move much more quickly.  Since they will both know the "game rules" of the dance, the two groups will be able to perform together sometimes even though they rehearse separately.  This is only the second rehearsal with the NYC dancers but you'll see that they're almost caught up with what we have been working on in Philly.

We have some performances coming soon in which both groups will dance together and I'm excited to see how that goes, since the movements of this piece require the dancers to become familiar with each others' bodies and movement styles.  I'm also looking forward to exploring what we can do with this structure using a larger number of dancers.

Dancers:  Rebekah J. Kennedy, Kumiko Nasu, Virginia Pedicord

Friday, March 4, 2011

dance process journal #7: working it

My dancers are giving so much of themselves in this demanding piece.  Now the dance is really coming together, so the dancers' performance level becomes more intense and takes more out of them, and they are doing a really great job.  I am suddenly feeling a tremendous responsibility to do them justice by making effective and interesting choreographic choices going forward.  We've done a lot of work so far and they're dancing it so well; now it's up to me to take this dance further with the next things that I will add or change.

In each of the 2 clips in this post, we are working for about 10 minutes and incorporating all of the elements we've been working on.  We've spent the past 2 rehearsals refining the details and rules of precisely HOW the dancers need to perform these different movements, and they've gotten the hang of it all pretty well by this point even though there are still a few tweaks that I want to make to this material.  But already, there's a lot of good stuff happening in these videos.  In the next few rehearsals with them, I'll begin to add a few more new elements to the piece.

You'll notice that we're trying out a new way of starting the dance; at the beginning, the dancers perform their own personal movement phrases, which you haven't really been able to see in our previous videos.  Now that you can see those phrases more clearly, you might notice that the dancers are also using them later on in the dance at times.