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Notes from the Creative Process

Lida Winfield and I have just wrapped up the first week of our Emerging Artist Residency and, throughout the week, have found ourselves thrilled, overwhelmed, inspired and exhausted.

As collaborators we’ve worked long-distance the past 3 years, jumping head first into our friendship and our artistry in intensive bursts of activity – one week here, three days there, a show, a workshop and then off to our separate lives.  It’s been such a gift to have this time at Bates to reconnect and dig more deeply into our duet work.

Three weeks feels deceptively luxurious – in truth it’s flying by.

We’ve chosen to focus our residency on developing a new duet with Choreographer/Filmmaker Tiffany Rhynard.  A grant from the Vermont Community Foundation allowed us to commission the new work with a four-day residency at Middlebury College in January.  Those four days of rich, challenging work left us with about 20 minutes of raw material to sort through and continue to craft here at Bates.  We’re continuing our collaboration with Tiffany, sending her thoughts and video clips for feedback and direction along the way.

Here are a few notes and questions to share from our creative process thus far:

-Exploring memories of power and powerless-ness through movement and storytelling…

-How can we embody the joy and energy of powerful moments?  What about times of physical oppression, restraint, being subdued?

-Can we overpower one another without being rough or violent?  What dynamic range is possible there?

-How can we re-enter work begun 6 months ago (untouched since then)?  This distance makes knowing and editing the work feel tougher than usual.

-Can we really allow ourselves to enjoy this opportunity to explore and investigate, without too much pressure to produce a finished product?  Can we pace ourselves, have fun, find moments for reflection, make time to explore dead ends, relax, open up, take risks?

Ellen Smith Ahern