Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Making of a Dance: A Dancer's Perspective Part 2

Rain and Railings
By Karen Krolak, Monkeyhouse Artistic Direcctor (photo credit: Jaye R. Phillips)

Rain may have botched up my commute downtown today but it did not interfere with our rehearsals at the ICA. (However, it should be noted that there is a downside to having a choreographer who knows everyone by name. When traffic makes you tardy to rehearsal, you feel much worse than usual…especially when you discover that today's session started with a polite request for more attention to promptness.)

The cast was divided into two groups to tackle sections 5 and 6 this afternoon. As someone in section 6, I spent the first hour flipping people and trying to figure out how to fly over Marjory Morgan's shoulder. Marjory is one of my favorite Boston choreographers. When Imoved back here a decade ago, I attended a concert that featured her piece about a Spammy Heart. It was clever and irreverent. Watching her sing through her liquid shape-shifting made me yearn for her creative maturity, Many moments from the piece remain indelibly etched into my mind. She and I have never had the chance to work together before and it was thrilling to swap suggestions with her on lifts and movement phrases.

Somehow our group switched from partnering with other people to slithering around the railing at the edge of the ramp on which we were working. We took turns scooching, twirling, and gliding over the banister. It was surprising how everyone encouraged each other. We generated a lot of material just by adding on to one another's ideas. Laughing at our own awkwardness made us more relaxed and helped us to learn faster.

When Stephen took a break from working on section 5, he checked in to see what we'd developed. He quickly teased out the movements that looked too much like tricks, and yet, it didn't feel personal when he pulled apart our phrases and found a few nuggets to focus on. At times his furrowed brow seemed to indicate displeasure at our creations but it became apparent later that I might have misread him.

During a brief break for our group, Jacqui kept jumping up to cling to the side of the stairs behind the railing. "Check it out. Check it out," she would shout. Her intense concentration to keep from falling was charming, especially because it caused her to unconsciously wiggle her tongue back and forth. Looking back at the events of the rest of the afternoon, I suspect that Stephen's forehead was actually a similar sign of clenched concentration. He must have been instinctively editing and splicing our sequences of movements because when he turned his attention back to us, it hardly took him anytime to stitch together the whole section.

So now, there are only two more sections to choreograph.

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