Friday, July 10, 2009

Kelli Edwards, '09 Choreographers' Project Fellow - Week 1

I have begun this process of making a new piece having absolutely no idea what I’m going to do. I have no music and no idea or theme with which to begin. This is unusual for me, but I’m glad that I am trying something new. I make a phrase on Sunday for the audition. It’s a pretty good audition phrase, a little idiosyncratic but not too hard to pick up, and incorporates a couple of different movement ideas. Monday night was our first rehearsal in the Gym. I make a phrase earlier that day with the sprawling space of the gym, and the depth of our future stage, in mind. It’s an accumulation phrase based on running forward that back, downstage and upstage. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, but it has some nice little nuggets in it and it is somewhat structurally satisfying. So for the first rehearsal we review the audition phrase and I teach them the accumulation phrase. It’s a fair amount of disjointed material. Still no music, but the beginnings of movement ideas have begun to emerge.

I am writing this after the second rehearsal, and a very entertaining one it was. We began by taking the accumulation phrase and extracting all of the running, ending up with a softer, gestural phrase. My assistant, John, and I had worked out a duet based on this new gestural phrase earlier in the day, so we taught most of that. I like it because the two dancers are mostly relating to the audience, even though they are dancing together and in close proximity. The feeling is simple, sensual and intimate, but there is something emotionally disconnected about it. The entertaining part of the rehearsal came next when I asked the dancers to make a movement phrase of their own writing their names with their butts. We played around with this for quite awhile as it was most amusing and interesting. I placed dancers in different groupings based on whether or not their phrase traveled and we tried these groupings with different music. First a Russian tango from the 1930’s, then a 1950’s style all girl Japanese surf band, and finally a Bach cello suite. It’s the 6th suite, my favorite, and I’ve been listening to it consistently for a number of years. It is the music I turn on when I need to lose myself and just move. It worked nicely and I think I will pursue, at least for tomorrow, developing a bigger moving butt phrase to this music.

My third rehearsal is surprisingly productive given that I’ve started to feel sick. My skin hurts and aches are taking over my body. John and I taught the new material and then I started to make a quartet (it may eventually be bigger) based on the slow duet material, layering in two other dancers one at a time. It’s only a beginning but I like it. I am beginning to feel that the music might not work. Because I have started with movement, and it has it’s own value in time and space, it is difficult to fit it to music in a way that makes sense to me. But it is only the third rehearsal. I think for tonight’s rehearsal I will give the dancers more movement assignments and see what they come up with. I have given them quite a bit of material to learn, which they have done quickly, but now I need to watch more and start to play with fitting it together.

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