These entries chronicle a choreographic research process that began in 2011 and eventually led the creation and performance of Midway Avenue in 2014. The process includes visits to London to interact with colleagues Wendy Houston, Matteo Fargion and Rahel VonMoos as well as rehearsal in Philadelphia with a cast of dancers. The early research project and eventual production were funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 1

Monday: I met Wendy in the garden in front of the Siobhan Davies Studios and chatted there a bit as she had a cigarette. I liked her instantly. She is down to earth and quite funny.

The first thing we did in the studio was a solo talking/dancing structure. It was familiar to me in many of its elements yet it launched me into a completely new mode of performing. Then Wendy performed the exercise as well. For two reasons: 1) she wants to ensure that I don’t feel like the scrutinized dancer as she sits and analyzes in the corner. 2) the nature of the exercise had the performer talk about various parts of their life and history. She thought we could get to know one another a little this way; on a few levels at once. Brilliant.

Several structures and conversations followed. All in all a good first day leaving me mentally and physically exhausted.

Later that evening I discovered that the subway that takes me home was not running. Delayed indefinitely said all the signs. There were throngs of sweaty angry people waiting around in clumps and I was one of them. Remember that post that says the subway system is fantastic? Well… not always.... I finally arrived home 3 hours later. After sharing a cab with another stranded Ladywell dweller.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tracey Enim

I had the day to explore the city. I was planning to visit the TATE modern but as I passed by Southbank Centre I noticed they were celebrating with a “Festival of Britain”. So I changed my plans and headed into the crowd. London has an amazing number of spaces for people to congregate around art!

This may seem like a sprinkler but its listed as an exhibit by Jeppe Hein titled “Appearing Rooms”. Jets of water appear and disappear creating a rotating set of “rooms”. Pretty great piece of interactive art on a hot day! From now on I'm going to consider the spray park at 2nd and Reed an interactive exhibit.

I wandered into the Hayward Gallery to see Tracey Emin: Love is What You Want. Consisting of handwritten letters, self portraits, films, piles of memorabilia from her life, the exhibit is brilliantly curated and constructed, walking us through her work, her life. She states that its her goal not to bring anything new into the world with her art; to instead assemble the things that already exist in her past and in her life. The subject matter is often raw and blunt with rape and abortion as recurring themes. Simple things given context take on grand significance. She’s a natural storyteller, and though the works are constructed of personal details about her life, they transcend her to take on larger cultural relevance. I was deeply affected by the exhibit and it will stay with me for a long time.

When I first saw Wendy’s work I was drawn to her ability to dive into complex private topics without settling into confessional storytelling. I’m interested in the notion of art about the artist, as there are so many ways to go about it. All art reflects the artist of course but not all artists put themselves directly into the center of the work. It doesn’t always work in my opinion so when I saw Wendy doing such a brilliant job of it, I was intrigued. She manages to communicate clearly and humorously, using her own stories as the starting point. Tracey Enim is a very different, very extreme example of an artist placing herself at the heart of the work. As I consider making a solo I think: what parts of me will I let through? and why?

All for now. I start with Wendy tomorrow…

The temporary Apartment

Yesterday was 35 hours long, but I stayed awake long enough to dodge the jet lag.
My apartment is great. Natural light spills into every room. Here are a few little views.

I’m staying in Ladywell – one of the final stops on the overground rail. It’s a bit far off from the center of London but the public transportation is so stellar that it really doesn’t matter.

Alarm Clock
These are the things I forgot to bring to London.

I make lists.

The weight you carry
The noise inside your head
Your change
Your interest
These come in pounds...Okay that list is goofy but I’m in London
paying with pounds so there you have it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Packing for London

I’m headed to London in a few days to start working with Wendy Houstoun. I’ll be there for 2 weeks working with Wendy and some of her colleagues in the UK.

How did we get here?
My relationship with Wendy began with a phone call. Well actually it began when I saw her work a few years ago (at the Dance Umbrella festival in London) and I loved it! I proposed a mentorship via email which led to several phone conversations, discussion about her work, my work, what I might learn from her and how we might work together… and then a grant application and some planning…

All that is to say we have not yet met in person. But we are about to embark on a very personal journey. A focused creative process designed to guide me deeper into the places I’m already headed as well as give me the tools to brave new territory. She will be a sounding board and a guide as I explore and build new work.

So, here I am, packing my bags to fly to London. I’ll be staying in a little apartment on my own while I’m there. I’m looking forward to the time outside of my familiar rhythm, a step away from the hectic nature of my daily life in Philadelphia (which happily includes my 6 year old son, my husband and my dance company). For all the working parents out there, you know how full a day can be. So I am grateful for the gift of this focused trip.

Next post comes from across the pond!