“Living is a form of not being sure…not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”
~Agnes De Mille
Monday, July 27th
Eureka of the day: There is no such thing as wasted time.
I felt like I was rolling a huge boulder up a soggy, slippery incline today in rehearsal. I had an idea to apply the same twister approach from the duet to the trio. It felt wrong as we began, but I could not tell why so pressed on until the boulder fell over the precipice. I eventually realized that it was too much of the same. There needed to be a new idea to move forward. At the end of rehearsal, I had an image of unified precision. The idea of an impeccable, seemingly inhuman perfection for the trio made more sense within our newly discovered conceptual framework of a “spectacle.” I may try the “Peter Sellers sings George Gerswhin” song as the sound score for this section. I am a little concerned about over-saturating with too many songs, but I’ll give it a shot anyway and see where it leads.
Like Judy Garland, Peter Sellers’s life was reportedly filled with substance abuse and emotional strife. I am really intrigued by the polarizing forces of humor and devastation in the lives of entertainers. A bright pink cloud with a dark cloud beneath the silver lining. I wonder how to convey the essence of this polarity without being too obvious.
Tuesday, July 28th
Eureka of the day: Form and space…and more Bebe
This week in Bebe’s Making Dances II, we shifted our exploration from context to form. We thought about how to allow the form itself to convey an idea. How to be careful not to tell you (the audience) what the form says.
I stayed with the idea of unison and precision for the trio. I had images of the Rockettes performing their mechanized spectacle in a small space on the edge of a cliff. Being more specific about where the dancers were looking helped me think about what they were seeing and how they felt about what they saw. When perched on the edge of the carpet, the dancers appeared to recognize the precariousness of stepping off the shag and into …
Some questions about space and form:
Through subtleties of form, intention, and actively seeing what is around us, can we transform the floor into an endless void? Can we change how we and the audience sees/experiences the space on, above, around and below? Can we make a 4×6 shag seem enormous? How does spatial attention inform and clarify what is happening?
Wednesday, July 29th
Eureka of the day: Slow down no matter how much it costs.
I learned a valuable lesson today. When I rehearse in NYC it costs so much money that I feel pressured to work fast, complete the picture, and then go back and refine. When working with narrative, to avoid a simplistic and predictable story, the narrative must unfold itself and emerge out of the form.
At this point in the process, we are getting a sense of who the dancers are in the context of the spectacle. I am on the verge of discovering their chemistry with one another. Yet, instead of going forward, my realization today is that there are still too many questions about who, what, where, why and when that need to be answered before we can move toward the next impasse. In short, we have met three people, and we need to know more about each of them before they begin interrelating.
Why do I always want to work so fast? There is a satisfaction in clarity and detail. Tomorrow — nothing new (unless new just happens). My plan is to go back to the beginning and start again, again.
Thursday, July 30th
Eureka of the Day: Begin again, again
It is about performing from our hearts, the ‘performance of extremes,’ as performers. That is what we found out today. We each have our individual stories of peaks and plunges as performing artists. Now our hearts and imaginations are sparked. Let’s begin again, again. We’ll caulk the spaces between movement ideas with our memories.
None of what I just wrote makes sense to me. Bummer. That usually means I am losing clarity in my vision of the work. So be it for today.
Friday, July 31st
Eureka of the day: Time limits can be helpful guidelines. They prevent ambling.
I found out this morning that we have an audition slot for Fresh Tracks at DTW on November 7th. This situation instantly clarified some questions for me. For DTW I need to move away from the intimate viewing of the work. This is tricky considering that what I like about seeing the work so close is how the dancers’ toes press into the shag; this and other such details get lost at a distance. There is also a 15-minute time limit. Given these new perameters, what is this dance about now? We already have 13-minutes, and I do not feel any nearer to a cohesive chunk. That must mean the dance is ambling and not saying anything. I need to edit with care and be as succinct and clear as possible. Oof!
I’m still stuck! We had a great group of people come to the open rehearsal today. Good insights from most, but what stood out was that there were way more questions than comments. In working on details of movement, timing and intention, we seem to be going in a different direction than we realized. Yep. I’m still at an impasse. This is the point where I have to return to what we have been playing with in Making Dances—Let it tell you. Don’t tell it. I liken this part of the process to a roller-coaster clunking up the ubersteep incline. Not quite arriving but knowing a free-fall is inevitable. The question remains, will I grip the safety bar or throw up my hands and wail during the thrill-spill?
Saturday, August 1st
Eureka of the Day: Make each moment necessary
I was in awe then felt paralyzed after seeing Bebe’s latest work “Necessary Beauty” last night. The experience unfolded as it should. How did she do that? Bebe’s ability to dwell curiously in an unknown state is admirable. She seems to trust her process enough at this point to know it will unravel accordingly, whatever it may be.
I could not sleep last night. I kept seeing Tara, Diana and Kellie perched on the edge of the pink shag waiting for what comes next. That’s where we ended yesterday. Nothing was coming to mind except ‘retina burns’ or ‘after flashes’ from “Necessary Beauty.” The dancers in Bebe’s work were individuals in the exact right colors making their way through what was happening as if discovering knowingly. What made the work so appealing is that we had just enough information to formulate something but not too much that we were being spoon-fed a concept. Wisps of images and interactions that barely connected but did. How did they do that? These were my thoughts….all night long until daybreak. How do I make each moment necessary?
Laura (Faure) came into rehearsal today and offered some truly informative insights. After viewing the work, she asked me to tell her my intentions. As I struggled for words I realized that I was still unclear, and therefore so was the work. I know it is all there, but I do not know what it is. I feel it in my gut. This part of the process is fascinating to me. I doubt I’ll create new material. It is now a puzzle that I have to figure out. The question is: What is going on?
Here’s what I realized after rehearsal: I was getting lost in the details and forgot about the significance of the pink shag. If I return to the shag, I think I’ll get clues there. I think this dance is just barely a narrative. Instead, it might be a string of instances that happen on a pink shag. There is something about the very end that ties it all together. I’m just not sure what that is yet.
Laura had another brilliant, albeit simple, question yesterday, “Is this about some sort of pathos, and if so, what is it?”
Sunday, August 2nd
Eureka of the Day: To get unstuck…go to the “Theater in the Head”
There is an exercise I do when I’m stuck. I suppose it is my form of meditation. It’s called “Theater in the Head.” I made it up several years ago in graduate school. I close my eyes and let the images from the dance (thus far) circulate in my mind however they want. I do not choreograph it. I watch the dance unravel however it wants to in that moment. I try to pay close attention to the details. After I feel a sense of some type of arrival, I write down the images as they came to me.
This is where I am today after last night’s slew of imagery. Seriously, it is like a slot machine in my mind. I arrived at something a bit looser than a logical narrative. It was more so a series of tasks and instances on and/or about the pink shag. I am going to try them out on Monday to see where they take us.
As a teaser, what I saw was: matter-of fact meets absurd meets creepy; a series of instances on or about the pink shag carpet; three (maybe four) individuals brought together by a singular moment on the shag. It’s an ode to the pink shag!
Summary of the week:
We began the week discovering a context of spectacle, and within that frame, individual figures emerged. The impasse in this scenario is how to show the essence of these individuals within Diana, Tara, and Kelly. I don’t want them to act. I want to draw these states of being from who they already are. The week ended with a possible revamp. I hope we find that the layers of discoveries and edits begin to give the work dimension. We also seriously need to spunk it up. The pacing of the work in terms of its dymanic structure is lagging. I’m looking forward to this week’s adventures!