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 around...it 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"...so 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 think...it'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 (www.myspace.com/clynndi) 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 Scotland...boo!) 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!