Contemporary Special Topics- Journaling Thoughts

What goes into choreography? Time, Energy, Risk…and Frame

How should I specifically choreograph? I have no clue.

I continually struggle in my rehearsal with Tadas for our Winter Concert duet on what the hell the do next or how to begin choreographing. As Burrows says “we usually don’t know what we are doing”. I’ve only ever choreographed to music; that is what I was raised on and that is what has become inherent to my artistic ability. So I try to implement Burrows and Miller suggestions:

1. We are starting to work with a non-concrete idea of “shadows” to spark movement. It came from improvisational partner work where we both began seeing this same idea. It doesn’t need to be clearly conveyed to the audience that “this is a dance about shadows,” as long as they see the passion in the idea. We are going to keep pulling from that and let it be a through line. At least for now… (A favorite quote from Burrows regarding this idea is that an idea is “like a rock at the top of a waterfall that gives shape to the fall” (28).

2. Working as a part of the piece you are choreographing is hard. You can’t see what is being built in the space because you are the building. I need an outside eye. I need to film every rehearsal (which will be helpful anyway since I want to create a film with this dance for next semester).

3. Working with music. I am caught between the idea that I want music that I have specifically created for the piece and the idea that I want to create movement specifically for a piece of music and then perform the dance with out music so that only the silent musicality is left. Burrows suggests that music in a performance can be over powering if the dancers do not emit an equal or greater energy; I think Tadas and I are capable enough to emit such an energy. But the meaning of the dance will not be driven by the music; I simply want the music to offer a “rhythmic formal element” and energy into the space.

Choreography in Composition class:
1. My solo from study one transformed quite a bit. The main note that stuck with me from Bebe is that I have an innate movement quality and performance quality that focuses on the “sensibility of the moment”. Not a bad thing, yet I was challenged to explore the physical movement and how it transforms kinetically in space and time, not just the sensibility of it… I leave that for performance. My favorite aspect about this study was the second time I reworked it and reoriented it spatially to fit into the corner of studio 390, giving it a very concrete composition. The idea of a “contract” also struck me in this study as the beginning sets up this contract with the audience’s expectations of the piece. So I surprised everyone by not telling them I was starting my piece…I was walking as I do in the beginning and all of the sudden someone realized that I was already in my performance. I liked that a lot.

2. Working on a duet with Maddie Tiberi and Jada Green proves more difficult. How do I simply “CREATE” in this given time period with no certain direction when I’m tired from classes all day and just want to nap?… you just do. This is what we dancers live for. So I started working on them and hating everything I made. Then Bebe could tell I hated what I was making and I told her I needed a phrase of some sort to pull from. So I made a phrase. I like this “Top Down” way of working where I can take an idea, a piece of music, or a movement phrase and dissect it and pull from it to create more of the piece. I think I just figured out my mode of working. After the first showing my classmates pointed out my “timing cellophane” and that has been a key point in the reworking of this duet is playing with timing between my dancers.

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