Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Developing Something into Something Else

I've known for a long time what I wanted to do for a career, but it only took me six months of living and job hunting in New York City to affirm that there was no way on God's green earth that I'd be able to do anything but. I am a dancer. I am a teacher. I am a writer. I am a choreographer.
And there is a serious pain in my heart if I am doing any other kind of work.

That said, after seeing a few really bad dance shows in the fall I decided that enough was enough and there was no reason why I shouldn't be making dances for the world (or at least New York City) to see. And I was off!

I re-envisioned one of my best works from grad school Pulled/Together, a seven minute quintet based on the idea of the forces of attraction and repulsion moving bodies in space. I wanted to inject the work though, with something dynamic. I wanted to see quickness and rhythm, clarity and specificity, an establishment of complete control and ambivalence to hold on to it.

So I made something new. A trio. (Click to see video.) I took images from the quintet (running parallel fourth, attitude chug throw, pulling away from the group and yanking back) and asked, How can we develop these movements and be violently specific? How can we move as a group and be simultaneously dissected? Then we tried some contact improvisation. It was the answer.

I gave them rules: 1. Take 5 common breaths to start, to connect. 2. Every touch has intent; give intent to unintended touch. 3. PUSH and PULL quickly, PAUSE when you need to. 4. Vocalize your effort a la Venus and Serena. Talk your way through it (Move it! Come back! Go There! Come HERE! This way! NO, That way!)

The trio was meant to be a short, but action packed few minutes. It was the next layer and lens necessary to complicate the existing quintet which was so controlled even in its play of balance and off-balance.

And then I made solos. I originally intended for the solos to be bookends of the exact same movement, though performed by two different dancers with different qualities; the first dancer to establish control, the final dancer to show the lack thereof. Instead I flipped the order of the dancers, and re-vised the final solo. It was an impulse-decision that made sense for the beginning and ending.

What I loved about making this dance was to watch the dancers own the work; find comfort in the movement and in one another, allowing them to make exciting and satisfying choices.

What I loved about watching this dance was the emotional experience. In this work every action has a reaction. And in this work every action has an emotional reaction. There was tenderness and intimacy; there was violence and uncertainty; there was desperation; there was joy; there was calm and control; there was intention and unintention... Aconversation had with my friend Dancer A sums up the experience:

Dancer A: Are you pleased overall? i hope so. the dancers looked great. there were some really eye-catching moments. poignant parts.

me: good. i was going for that, lol. like jumblejumblejumble ahhhhh. i'm all about the juxtaposition baby.

Dancer A: hahaha... your dance made me feel a bit anxious, and then i'd find calm, and it was like "oh good!" it was nice to kind of graph my emotions while watching

me: :)

Dancer A: i dont think i usually have so many changing states. so nice work on your juxtapositioning. ha.

me: i'm glad it took you through emotions. ...i really am all about engaging the audience

Dancer A: ....ha was just going to say that that's in your mission statement. so i was satisfied that you satisfied your mission

me: yes. it is my mission. did u feel human?

Dancer A: mm hmm

me: ;) good.

Click HERE to read mid-process notes on this work.

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