Thursday, December 18, 2008

Press Release!

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sonia Synkowski, Press Coordinator
217-816-3672 cell
.Singing the Body Electric. on January 15th and 16th: Local Choreographers pair up
to present new and innovative dance works
.Singing the Body Electric. will feature new work from local choreographers Reggie Cole, Cindi
L.Abbe, Sonia Synkowski and Stacey Tytler. Each choreographer will present their vision of the limitless
potential of the body through dance. .Singing the Body Electric. will be presented at the Creative Alliance at
the Patterson located at 3134 Eastern Ave in Highlandtown. Performances will be on Thursday, January 15th at
7:30pm and Friday, January 16th at 8:00pm.
What do you get when you bring together four distinct choreographic voices for one evening of dance?
As a result, each choreographer is able to showcase their talents through the electrified bodies on stage and
provide an entertaining, innovative evening of professional dance. Representing the wide spectrum of
modern dance, each choreographer is able to express an inspired theme through movement, such as migration,
insomnia, and perspective shifts.
Cindi L’Abbe has danced and choreographed for Flow Dance Company of Brattleboro, Vermont before
moving to Baltimore where she has shared her unique perspective through performances at Johns Hopkins
University and Experimental Movement Concepts in Hampden. Co-Director of The Collective in Baltimore,
Sonia Synkowski is constantly pushing the boundaries of dance, both with The Collective and in her own
work. Reggie Cole has danced and choreographed with CityDance Ensemble, Edgeworks Dance Theater and
Contradiction Dance, as well as choreographing throughout the D.C. area and performing solo work both
regionally and internationally. Stacey Tytler continues to create meaningful expressions of the body as she
choreographs regionally and also performs with Jane Franklin Dance in Arlington, VA.
These four choreographers will come together for a two evening engagement at the Creative Alliance.
The performance will feature professional dancers from the Baltimore and DC area as well as original musical
compositions by Shane Bordeau, Ljiljana Jovanovic, Keith Kramer, and David Ross and with live musical
accompaniment. .Singing the Body Electric. is the perfect performance to electrify the audience and jump
start the 2009 dance scene in Baltimore.
Tickets are $12/adults or $10/students & members on Thursday, January 15th. Tickets are $15/adults
or $12/students & members on Friday, January 16th. Tickets can be reserved by calling 410.276.1651 or
visiting Performances are at 7:30pm on January 15th and 8:00pm on January 16th. .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wake Me When It's Over...Hopefully that's not what the audience will be thinking...

Finally all of the choreography for this piece is done. Today was the first day that we ran the piece from beginning to end in order (and of course it will need a lot of work). Since the piece is in sections, with each section being very different, I worked sporadically---working on the sections with the most "dancing" first and then filling in the more improvisational partnering sections later.

I'm excited to get together with David and see how the music and dance synch up. This piece was really different for me, because there is sooo much movement in it, but when I examined it more closely, it still works on a theme and variation concept. All of the phrases have similarities between them and there is a definite repetition of motives from section to section. The most obvious of these is a floor phrase, which I call "the restless sleep". This phrase is a lazy body-part initiated flow, which opens the dance and repeats several times throughout---it is also the phrase that ends the dance.

The ending is really interesting to me, because I originally was ending on the idea "I dreamed I was falling", which led me to create this rapid-fire phrase (based on movements from phrases throughout the piece) which is punctuated with "snapshots" of falling images, and finally ends with the dancers rolling (as if down a hill) from upstage to downstage. I was planning on ending there, but David reminded me that I had originally told him that there would be a brief end part called "the dawn breaks". This led me to come up with a concept for the end that came out of that chaos with clarity and minimalism. I want to have the lights dim on the dancers and a spot on David at the end, and the dancers repeat (in unison) the original "restless sleep" with pauses at the highest point of the phrase. The pauses gradually lengthen as the lights come up. It is kind of nice to have a piece that ends on a more peaceful and positive note, as both Rodya and Duet end pretty dramatically and decidedly less positive.

So--as promised for Karen and Andrea---the outline of Wake Me When It's Over:

Intro: The restless sleep pattern in canon (dsl), into canon of the original phrase, to seated. Unison variation on the floor, into BADABA:). First time through on the diagonal with Karen going into pauses (arm, arm and "chunk") and coming back into unison, opening to front. BADABA with lifts, unison, travels back (butt roll, pike roll, knee roll, x).

The Nightmare: Cindi (dsl) goes into jerkier variation of "restless sleep" with "shape up" variation. Karen and Andrea "shape up" off the floor and go into "Scary Girl" phrase moving towards Cindi. Cindi becomes increasingly agitated as they get closer. They finish out phrase to X. Cindi gets thrown around by her hand (cadenza---improvised within a loose structure). Karen goes into hand attack phrase which she choreographed (these overlap). Cindi's takes her to X (dsr), and when Karen finishes hers, she and Andrea go into "Scary Girl" phrase, Andrea Xing out at the suspend roll part and Karen continuing to be pulled down by her hand next to Cindi on the floor. All three "shape up" and melt down. Cindi gasps up to seated abruptly.

Sleeping Together: Karen gently reaches up to Cindi's shoulder to ease her down to "sleep". Restless sleep phrase to begin, goes into short contact improv inspired duet with back to back contact throughout the duet. Melts down.

Somnambulator (sleepwalker): Andrea slowly rises up and begins walking in a spiral (start at cs). When she walks past Cindi, Cindi stands up and begins following her. Cindi manipulates Andrea, and Andrea keeps walking. Eventually Cindi lunges down in front of Andrea, who walks up onto Cindi and Cindi carries her back to CS to "sleep". Cindi lies down near Andrea.
Insomnia: Short solo by Karen with agitated twitchy movements. (there might be a slight overlap with these sections)

I dreamed I was flying\I dreamed I was falling: (these are not two sections, because there is no going back to "sleep" between) Andrea steps up and performs her "flying" phrase (takes her to floor). Karen stands up and presses up into a handstand and performs her "flying" phrase. Cindi performs three floor shapes that represent flying and leave her in the "shape up" position where Karen pulls her up (here there should be 2 or 3 simple little jumpy partnering elements) and then all three go into Andrea's "flying" leading into a big lift of Andrea in "flying" position that travels on a diagonal (usr-dsl) and ends at CS and is held. From here the shape collapses and the dancers roll towards upstage and rise to standing all facing different directions. All perform "falling" phrase with intermittant "snapshots". As they end the phrase for the final time, they roll (us-ds) as if they are falling down a hill and end as far downstage as they can get and then lie still.
Dawn Breaks: Unison "restless sleep" phrase repeated with progressively longer pauses at the high point. As the "sun" comes up, the dancers are still looking upward.

We think it'd be nice to be kind of joky at the end and when the lights come up for the bow to act like we just woke up (yawn, stretch and rub our eyes).

That's it!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I've had several rehearsals since my last posting, and all three pieces that I have been working on for the January show (we have a date, by the way: January 15 and 16 at Creative Alliance at Patterson Park), have moved forward.

Duet: The movement is all choreographed for Duet. A couple of weeks ago, Amanda taught us some contact improv exercises in lieu of technique class at the beginning of rehearsal. I noticed an immediate difference in the way the dancers were able to embody the partnering and tumbling movements in the piece. In addition, it developed a sense of camaraderie between the dancers, which translates into trust within the duet itself. For me, I noticed that this came across weeks later when Sara and I were working on a section in our duet (we're the old couple:)). I was trying to insert a lift into a section that moves in a fluid, circular way, so the lift would rely predominantly on momentum. I really felt that, since Sara and I had partnered together in the exercises Amanda had given us, we were trusting enough of eachother, for her to bounce off the floor and jump on me, and for me to move out of that, taking her momentum. So it really worked and we created some interesting new movement together, which I was really pleased with.
Now that the movement is completed for Duet, I have some new challenges. First, I need to put the piece in front of some outside eyes, so that I can clarify the choreography. I really miss being in school for this, or at least being in NH, where I could just call up Stephanie and say, "hey come look at this", and get some no-nonsense, knowledgable, non-sugarcoated feedback, which is what I need right now. Second, although my dancers are awesome and doing a great job, we all still have a long way to go before the dancing is clear and well-performed. I gave them all the warning last week that this is where I'm going to become a really annoying rehearsal director. "Again! Again!" etc... There's also that internal motivation in this piece. I originally had them all write about what they would say if they were a message in a bottle, and I really want to work with them to determine how they can take my movement, and give it their meaning. I don't know if this is possible or not, but I think it will add another dimension to the piece and its an interesting concept to explore. I mean, the movement I'm using is pretty abstract---its just the context and the props, and some of the energy behind it that gives it meaning, so I think that they can change the meaning through thier performance somehow. This is my puzzle I guess... The final issue I'm working on is the music. The music I want for the middle of the piece is kind of short. I might have to cut some movement, speed up certain parts, and work on how I want to overlap the duets, so there will be lots of trial and error in rehearsal at that point. I'm pretty excited!

Rodya: Rodya was already finished, but I got some great feedback from Stephanie the last time I went back to NH, and I'm going to work on performance of the piece especially. Amanda doesn't know all of the choreography yet, but she has a good start, and Andrea is coming home in a matter of days!!!! Yaya! So we can begin working with those details. This piece is all about movement quality, so I think that I will really need to be a hard ass and work in an extremely detailed way, on every movement. But I'm excited to have that to work on, because the piece is just really fun.

Wake Me When Its Over: Well, section one is complete, and Jackie videoed it for us ( I am dancing Andrea's part in this video, and it's not full out, because there are some things that I can't do, which Andrea can (because she's tiny and I don't want to break Karen before my first big show). Karen and I worked on section two (The Nightmare) last night, and I've been working on the rest of the piece in my head. Having Andrea back will make this work a little bit better. I shared the video with the composer (David Ross), so he can have an idea what the sections are like and how long etc. This is the newest piece and I think its going to be really fun, and exciting for the audience. And I also think it might break my body, which is unfortunate, but I'll sacrifice it all for art:)

The last really fun thing is that Reggie and I are working on a comic duet for the show! Since all of my choreography is really heavy, this seems like a lot of fun. We have this really fun and fantastic music and we're working with this concept that hi-lites our differences as dancers, and the differences in our appearance as well. We have this great Bill T and Arnie Zane thing going on, size-wise.

So, that's that, we're on a roll!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Group Rehearsals; "Duet"

So, the first two rehearsals with the whole group of dancers, I ran just as a class. This ended up being really helpful for me to see where each dancer is in her technique and also how she makes movement her own. My secondary objective was to get everybody upside down, since that's one of the scariest things that dancers do, and something that I like to do a lot. So far I've been really pleased (oh, and for anyone who wants ideas for structuring a modern class---The Flaming Lips Yoshime is pretty much a perfect album to structure a class was really fun).

On Sunday we ran through the most important exercises and warm ups and then jumped into manipulations of my main phrase for "Duet" I did a basic little adagio based around movement from "Duet" and then we improvised with that phrase. (I had the dancers break into partners and one would perform the phrase and the other would improvise around them and interact with them). This gives me some ideas of ways to manipulate the movement and gets the dancers used to partnering. I also played with some music choices with that. Most of my choreography lacks structured counts...I often sing to my dancers to get the timing together (thanks, Marcia for rubbing off on me in such a crazy and annoying way:)).
Finally I began teaching some of the choreography which is already set from the original performance. I pretty much want to put all that choreography on these new dancers and then introduce the props as a way of manipulating and varying the movement. Once I see it on these new dancers it will be easier to see what i need to cut and what i can add.
Another concept we talked about was this element of internal motivation to movement. One of the most important things about this piece is that, even though my motivation for the movement is pretty freaking clear (I's almost a dance that bashes the audience over the head with it's message), I don't want the dancers to think about my meaning when they dance. Their motivation through the entire dance is based on what they wrote about when I asked them the question: If you were a message in a bottle, what would you say? So, they are trying to spread their message through the performance...and that's something different for each of them.
I semi-diagrammed "Duet" so I have a pretty clear idea of where it's going. I'm hoping to get into a recording studio at some point and begin putting together the sound recording using the text (see last entry) or if Ian still has it somewhere from when we made the video ( that would be perfect to use. The structure of the piece, with the music runs as follows:
Soundscore with spoken text starts before the first duet enters (all entrances are from stage right, all exits stage left). Duet one is "first love" or children playing...these are really the same things aren't they? Dancing moves from stage right to stage left, and the dancers sit at the table. Soundscore ends, music starts (current thoughts on this...The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields). Dancers manipulate the props and dance with them, and then move away from the table towards the stage left exit...
Exit of duet one is overlapped with entrance of duet two (music continues). Duet two is a chronic and sustained "picking" between two partners, which escalates to the point of fighting. Their manipulation of the props includes sweeping the plate and cup of water off the table onto the floor...Music should fill the entire second duet.
Exit of duet two is overlapped with the entrance of duet three. Duet three is a very old and familiar couple who have been living a tandem life for many years. They are pretty much continually in uison or supported by one another. One partner exits (music ends here). The person who is "left behind" goes to the table and performs an empty reinactment of the first duet's manipulations of the props (those props that are left after the second duet's rampage), and speaks text ("my mind crashes up against your body, I break on your shore, bits of you cling to me"). Left behind dancer performs the rest of the solo in silence and instead of exiting stage left moves continually upstage until there is no where left to go. So that's the gist:)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rehearsal/Class 9/7/08

I really had a fantastic time working with everyone yesterday. At the beginning of the class all of the dancers free-wrote on the topic: I'm a message in a bottle. What do I say? We shared our responses with eachother and they ranged from optimistic and positive messages to warnings to live the life you want to live. It was really useful to me to find these things out about the dancers, because their message is what Duet will be about for them as they dance it (regardless of the movement that I put on them). It works for me that there is so much variation with the message, because of the many layers that will add to the performance. We talked about using that message as the impetus for movement and we'll continue to work on that in rehearsal.

It was so fun to teach a dance class again. We worked really hard and I led a class with lots of floor work, inversions and jumping. It was good to see where our technique was and also to start getting the strength and endurance that's needed to dance in my works.

I also really appreciated seeing how the dancers moved---they each bring something special to the project and I look forward to getting to know them all better. I really missed Andrea though while we were dancing! She should be here with us!

At the end of class we did a short Authentic Movement practice to help clarify the act of moving from internal motivation---it was a nice way to develop the camaraderie of the group as well as cool down from all the strenuous dancing.

This weekend I'm going to NYC to get some inspiration and take a break for a little while---In the mean time, Karen and I will be rehearsing Wake Me When It's Over---a new work (trio) on Wednesday night. Our last rehearsal together brought out a lot of new ideas and I hope to have at least a skeleton of each section of the piece done on Wednesday. Soon we'll be videotaping for Andrea to work on elements of the piece for when she gets back!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's Beginning!

Tomorrow is our first rehearsal with the whole cast (minus Andrea, since she's still in!) and we're going to start learning eachother's bodies and my "movement style" through what is really going to just be a technique class to start. I have to come up with the class and music and all that stuff today, so that's my assignment before we get together.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about Duet and saw the video (finally) of our March performance. The piece was definitely a fledgling at that point. I had to cringe a little bit. I really want to bring the text into the piece and props, and I'll need to re-work the floor patterns to reflect the concept that each duet is moving over the course of the piece across the stage (stage right to stage left). The audience is really reading book of the lives of this couple...

I think that the dancers I have to work with now are really going to improve the overall look of the piece. They are able to do whatever I come up with, which is really exciting.

I've been sketching out the structure of the piece and the way that the music (The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields) fits with the text (My mind crashes up against your body... written by me---I'll put the whole poem at the end of this entry). There is a major structural significance to the interactions of the dancers with the table/chairs/glasses of water.

There's so much to think about, but it just feels good to finally be getting together with my dancers and putting thought into action.


My mind crashes up against your body
And when you speak, I'm a message in a bottle with a stopper in my throat
My mind crashes up against your body
I break on your shore
Bits of you, cling to me

Also---since it's the first time that the cast of Duet is getting together, I'm going to bring back the writing exercise---we'll be free-writing on this subject:
If you were a message in a bottle, what would you say?

This message is internalized by the dancer and becomes their intention for all of the movement in the piece---I've found this is a really powerful tool for creating a layered performance.

That's it---better get to work!