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!

Monday, October 3, 2011

I just finished leading a weeklong intensive with a group of dancers here in Philadelphia. It was my intention to blog throughout the process but it turns out that when you are in your home-town it’s a little more difficult to carve the time for blogging!

Here is a synopsis:
I wanted to bring the solo explorations I’d been doing, and the discoveries and questions I’d uncovered in UK, to a group of dancers. I wanted to combine past obsessions with current concerns to see what arose. I wanted to disrupt my typical process of acting as performer/choreographer in order to remain on the outside without the intention of joining the ensemble. I wanted to take recent experiments with language and words and inject them into my ongoing work with non-verbal storytelling, partnering exercises, and ensemble work.

The dancers were: Eun Jung Choi, Jaamil Kosoko, John Luna, Scott McPheeters, Annie Wilson, Christina Zani. A playful and inspiring bunch mover/thinkers!

We did some dancing

We did some writing

We built some improvisational structures

We started with movement structures that I’ve been building over the years and then infused them with current concerns and questions about language, structure and delivery.

We looked at structures that brought the movement language to the forefront and asked the verbal language to keep up with that. We worked on building separate structures for the words and the movement, laying them on top of one another. Asking them to maintain autonomy yet respond and influence one another selectively, creating short dances that pushed these separate tracks toward one another, bleeding, blurring and intertwining in various ways until a third thing emerged. The goal was to avoid one track wiping out the other.

One structure in particular started to become its own little dance.
One dancer describes her memory of a room while two dancers build an accumulating movement dance, the structure builds from there.
I am endlessly fascinated by this structure; the ways in which the unfolding of the memory parallels, overlaps and blurs with the building of the movement duet. Eventually the two tracks become one…but neither track is consumed by the other… they crossfade to reveal a third thing…a track that was there all along.

As we worked for an hour or so on refining the details of the structure and the skills to inhabit we also build our ability to read the intricacies of the dance. That tricky aspect of a process in which you don’t know how much delight you are gaining due to your own intimate understanding of the structure. I am hungry to share these little studies with an audience of fresh eyes to garner its impact.

- The story is a linear river that can meander amid the forest of movement.
- It is not a spring rain of poetic words / It is not an ocean that buries the terrain
- The sensitivity of the movement duet is the beating heart of the present tense and the story is the past we carry around with us and our struggle to organize and deliver.

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