Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pulled/Together #4

FACT: I have staged my choreography Pulled/Together four times in the past four years.

I would like to just do a quick roll call to recognize the people who have given life to the work and shaped it uniquely in each staging.

2008 Spring: Kayla Fleming, Keera Herbst, Sara Karimi, Carrie McCollum, Lindsay Smith
2008 Fall:  Keera Herbst, Sara Karimi, Jung-Hyun Ari Lee, Carrie McCollum, Lindsay Smith
2010: Darius Barnes, Amy Blumberg, Kyle Gerry, Natalie Mauro, Tara Willis
2011: Erica Frankel, Sharyn Korey, Carrie Plew, Tiffany Spearman, Candace Thompson

Each process has been insanely different. Click Here to learn about it in 2008, then Here, Here and Here to see/learn about the process in 2010.


The thing about making a dance is that it's never quite finished. It is just "finished enough" to show it to somebody with lights and costumes. So with each staging, you have a chance to dig a little deeper into the work, develop it more and tease out the details. You also have a chance to have those What the hell was I thinking? moments.

This go 'round for Pulled/Together taught me a lot, as well as reinforced what I already know about myself as an artist.
Pulled/Together Fall 2008 Cast
  1. I really want to work with my own company of dancers with whom I can develop an understanding of my movement vocabulary and the performance qualities that I most enjoy. When we started rehearsing the piece I pulled out the video and started to teach each dancer her part, section by section. It wasn't until the last rehearsal that I gave a technique warm-up that really prepared the dancers for the work they were about to do, while developing and clarifying particular movements. Having that time made a world of difference in my eyes and I wished that I started the process that way, or better yet... really had the TIME to start the process that way. I think they learned this dance in 6 or 7 rehearsals, only 1 of which had the entire cast present... Given the rehearsal circumstances, I thought the performance was excellent; however, there was a clarity/specificity/crispness that I missed that I think could have only come from knowing the movement really really well. // That said, in my dreamworld I want to be developing my movement style and teaching modern dance classes imbued with my particular perspective to professional dancers who I will then work with to create new dances. That's the vision for Sydnie L. Mosley Dances. I've spoken it into existence. Universe, please take the lead...
  2. What works for one cast doesn't always work for another. This was particularly true about the costumes. The dance is abstract and the dancers are not any particular theatrical characters, so the idea for costumes has always been something simple and form-fitting that will show the dancers' lines. Dancers wore red and orange tank tops with white straight legged pants in the 2008 version (see photo above). This translated into tank tops/t-shirts and knicker pants in a color palette of gray, white and blue for 2010. What looked clean and simple in last year's run, ended up looking too comfy and dare I say a little frumpy this time? Despite my desperate efforts to iron and negotiate the best fit and sizes amongst the cast, I'm not sure that it worked.
  3. This piece needs time to develop. Maybe all my work does? Even though the dancers knew all the steps, they simply had not run it enough times, all together to really be pulled together and to pull the audience into the work. One audience member felt like she was being a voyeur into the dancer's own world and although she was engaged with what was happening on stage, she didn't feel invited into the dancers' experience. This is the exact opposite reaction in its last staging. Audience members commented more on their emotional involvement and investment in what was happening on stage.  Re-staging this dance was the first time I've tried to re create a dance in a hurry, with all new people. Especially since the cast was not familiar with my vocabulary, it was harder to make it happen quickly. As I am doing more choreography and setting up more performance gigs, I am realizing that I absolutely have to give myself the time to develop whatever work I am doing so that it is the best it can possibly be. 
  4. The dancers were amazing. Given our limitations, I was still astounded by the performance. The dance was given a new life with different, yet still valid interpretations of the movement and ideas. What I loved most was the dancers' commitment to each other which included an astute awareness of one another, as well as caring and confident intention. There was a lot of action on stage but favorite parts included: Candace's run onto the stage in the darkness setting up the theme of running, pulsing, revving up, Tiffany's roaring leaps forward, Erica's startling entrance from seemingly no where, Sharyn leaping onto Carrie only then to turn around and catch Tiffany's leap forward, and the moments when all five dancers were all on stage simultaneously pushing and pulling at one another. I think what was most engaging was the intensity of the interactions between the dancers.
I see Pulled/Together as a study in my movement perspective. It includes the breadth of movement styles that I've trained in as well as other personal stylistic markers including intense physicality and support between dancers, use of breath and voice, emotional engagement of the audience, and a use of space beyond the proscenium. It is also a solid framework for me to continually think about my dance making... does the form support the content? and vice-versa? How does each dancer's role support the whole work?

Going forward, I hope I can use this work as a starting point to train a group of dancers who I can work with on a continual basis. Like I said, Universe, please take the lead.

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