Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Making of a Dance: Stephan Koplowitz/Summer Stages Dance at The ICA/Boston

In conjunction with his residency at Summer Stages, acclaimed choreographer Stephan Koplowitz will direct the creation of a site specific performances to be viewed outside the new ICA. Koplowitz is known for taking dance out of the theater and placing it in the world. Dancers will move around the entire exterior of the ICA, responding to the design by intimately exploring the visual rhythms and patterns of the architecture. Sound score is being created by film and television composer Justin Samaha. (You can hear some of his music at JustinSamaha.com). This is an unusual coming together of the New England dance community. This may be the only time when so many companies (10) ever dancing together in one piece. This is a first for Boston - a larger-scale (24 dancers) outdoor "in the street - on the harbor" dance experience in Boston. Continues Summer Stages Dance's commitment to mentoring new choreography and New England companies.

ICA site project, DAY ONE
by Stephan Koplowitz July 9, 2007

This project with Summer Stages and the ICA began for me like no other site project I've been involved with. The big difference is that prior to today's rehearsal, I only knew two of the dancers involved in the entire project. I've relied (and trusted) Richard Colton's eye and knowledge of dancers here in Boston. I mention this only because, I have to say, my anticipation, prior to today's rehearsal was pretty high, not just because I was starting a new work, but because I was quite curious to meet the dancers I would be working with as my Core Company. Most directors and choreographers are, at varying degrees, control freaks. Selecting one's cast is definitely high on a list of things one does so, this was a great experience in trust and being Zen-like, although I must confess that had I any doubts with having Richard be, in effect, my eyes, I would have insisted on a different method (the old fashion audition!) so thank you Richard for doing such a great job—this is a wonderful group.

The other difference is having many members of different local companies involved, which is a nice aspect, especially because already with just 13 dancers, very few know each other, and as we grow to over twenty, this gives everyone a chance to not only get to know people who live in the same town, but work with them as well!

My first week here will be spent creating as much choreographic material as possible with the 13 dancers I have. My aim is to "sketch" out the entire work, and at least get a start on each of the eight sections if possible. By the second week, I’ll try to finish the first draft of the entire work, and hopefully before our first performance, be on version 2.0 or even 3.0...

Before the rehearsal, I met with Justin Samaha, who will be creating the sound score, and we discussed a couple of ideas I had as to how to disseminate the sound. I'm thinking of having up to ten audience members carry "wearable" lightweight speakers, with each person broadcasting one track that Justin would create to interlock/interact with the other tracks making an ambient score that follows the audience as they walk through the space. This would continue until the last two sections of the work when we would then switch over to a more conventional sound system. We'll see if this works. I'd like the sound to seem part of the environment...and not felt as if it is intruding on either the space or competing with the quite present ambient sounds found at the water front.

I'm starting the piece on the twelve rocks located directly in front of the museum's entrance, the ones across the service road which are actually in the parking lot. These rocks caught my eye because they reference the rocks found near the river. I have no idea if the ICA architects ( Diller Scofidio + Renfro) had anything to do with the placement of the rocks (probably not, but you never know), but I find them a nice transition to the ICA building, a reminder of the natural setting this very modern building finds itself. They also serve as a "prologue" making the audience start the work by turning their backs to the building, giving them a chance to "clear" their vision of the building, in essence, clearing the "palate" before embarking on their "journey" through the mostly, exterior spaces.

I felt this was a good first day in terms of getting the dancers introduced to the structure of the work, to what I've been thinking about, and to my method of generating material. (We will be making one work that is divided into EIGHT sections, each section taking place in a different location.), We spent our time between me giving the dancers material to work with, and then having them generate movement based on some specific instructions. Towards the end of the our time together, we visited several of the sites where I quickly placed them in the space and gave them some broad "brush strokes" of choreographic material...simple things that would give me an indication as to what might or might not work in terms of scale and design. The two photos are taken from the end of our rehearsal time, where I just placed dancers in the space to look at scale and how I may want to begin those sections.

Tomorrow, we work in the studio and based on our research today, we have much to do.

I'm definitely inspired by both the cast assembled and the site....

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