Friday, September 26, 2008

Update on New Work

So in between the videos i thought it might be helpful (for me and for you) to verbalize some of what I'm working on for this new piece. I'm going with a tentative working title (...maybe...) of "over again". Although "Remote control" and "Clutch Clutch"would also be options.

We've had two group rehearsals (although, in true form we've yet to have a rehearsal with the whole cast at the same time...) and I've had five or six studio times to work on material. Needless to say, it's just starting out, and nowhere near gelling into some cohesive gloop yet.

But there are certain truths that have revealed themselves to me so far, as well as specific questions that i'm starting to investigate. I kind of see all the ideas and questions i have right now as fitting on a series of continuums or spectra. One of theses spectra starts as pure art-for-the-sake-of-art creative investigative questions and ends at pure dollar sign economic questions about the business of running my company and producing this piece. Within that spectrum lies a more specific dance-making spectrum of questions and ideas, ranging from the purely visceral to the purely subvisceral (having to do with the information and ideas related to the movement, but outside of the body). The third continuum is altogether separate, and slides between the pure-movement end and the tech/video/programing end.
Which is all just to say: I have many questions and ideas right now. This is how they look in my head so I don't go crazy.

One of the biggest revelations that i've had while working on the piece is a deeper understanding of where this specific movement vocabulary (or at least, one of them - what i'm referring to as "lush") is coming from. Larissa (who i first worked with in "the What's Left Over After") sent me some great questions (as she always does) after our first rehearsal, one of them being a basic "why me for this piece/role". As i've been working more and more during my studio times, I've realized that much of this movement comes from a melding of mine and Larissa's impulses. While it's not the first time that i've been in a great relationship of making dances "for" a dancer - specifically with them in mind - I think it's less common than I would like to believe. I always make movement with my dancers in mind - trying to fit their bodies and keep them engaged and interested, i think it takes some working with each individual to really understand how they move enough to be making for their body through your body when you're alone in the studio. Maybe the best way to describe it is the difference between being really good at knowing what someone would say and actually being so inside their head that you both say the same thing at the same time, but don't find it at all out of the ordinary. So that's exciting. And from here i'm looking forward to the point which we break apart again, and both surprise each other with what we do.

Since i mentioned the "spectrum thinking" that i've been using lately (...this morning...) I'll talk about the other side of realizing i'm really in tune with Larissa's moving - I'm stuck on Ollie and Nick. Being the two "newest" to work with in that i've never made work for them (as I have for Cavin, Lillie, Larissa, and Laurel) and never danced for or with them in a piece (as I have Christina and Julia), i'm a little out of touch with who they are, and uncomfortably so. I'm having my first small group rehearsal tomorrow and focusing on the Cavin/Nick Larissa/Oliver duets, so hopefully that will give me some time to get into their bodies a little more, but I'm also wondering how much of my ignorance in terms of what to make for them is their maleness. In addition to Nick and Ollie, I've also found two more male dancers who are interested in being a part of the piece (who i'll be meeting with and deciding on within the next week or so...) who i'll know even less - i've at least known Nick and Ollie as friends and gotten to see them move as humans and fellow dancepartiers for about a year.

I generally LOVE making movement for men, but for a few reasons making for this piece and these men is hard for me. I hesitate to generalize or present some over-masculinized or flat stereotype of "maleness" in the movement that I make for them (at this point i'm even somewhat internally conflicted about doing a piece that divides so neatly into "male" and "female", even though that's not a new thing for me), and yet at the same time, the piece is about my specific relationship to a male person, portrayed through these series of duets. Yet at the same time, he wasn't even stereotypically male. Yet it's important to me that there is a distinction between the male and female movement because at some level, the piece is about the end product of how the inherent differences in how men and women communicate and think. And yet.
So that's a big one for me right now. The mens.

Another big question is how much to "stay true" to my instincts and ideas, and how much to really listen to the feedback that i'm getting from myself, the dance world around me, and on past work. It's clearly always a balancing act, but it always needs to be re-negotiated. I got really freaked out after the first DTW meet and greet cocktail party really realizing for the first time what Ashley was going through last year - that, yes, it's incredibly intimidating to feel like "The Dance World" is watching closely to see what you'll make. Kind of the same way, i've been meeting more and more people who "read my blog" which is always hugely flattering and exciting, and a little bit terrifying. The world is watching. Who knew? I did. Or maybe I didn't...

Anyway. Part of the fear is that I'm a narrative choreographer. Yes i'm interested in the movement, but not for the sake of it just being movement. I'm interested in what it says and why it happened, and everything that it might convey in a personal, historical, or social context. As long as i've been making dances, it's been the "story" first (or the images, relationships, etc.) and the movement to convey or explore it second. Which is not to say that the movement itself isn't at the heart of my work - i'm a firm believer in the idea that the movement we do can tell us more about what we're feeling than we could ever intellectualize or verbalize or tell. It's just that narrative is so out of style right now - so many choreogrpahers working to deconstruct the limits of narrative work and so many critics just beginning to speak that language - that i hold fear that the work will be dismissed as "young" just because it's telling a story. Which it might be. Because I am. But my belief is that the work is strong ( know...will be) and that the use of narrative is a choice and viewpoint rather than a fallback or lack of innovation.

Over drinks with ashley a few weeks ago, I confided that "i don't know if i'm revolutionary enough for new york modern dance" - a statement that she prompted me to really take some time to think about and work through. After seeing two "fall for dance" shows at city center as well as a handful of other work, and doing a good bit of searching online, i'm ready to amend that statement. All of NY modern postmodern dance isn't revolutionary. It isn't all new. And that's okay. My obsession and instinct (regardless if i ever succeed in in) is to make new after new piece. I don't want to see the same thing over and over again. So it's easy for me to fall into this trap of thinking that i'm not "new" enough, because it's a standard that i'm holding myself to. For now, i'm trying to concentrate on making exactly what i want to make and holding myself to that standard - really being 100% satisfied.

I am sharing a lot more of this process than i ever have before - posting all these videos and such. So. Ask me questions. What do you want to know about the process? About what we're making? About the work? About our business practices? I'm hoping to do some website updating soon, and that will have all our new writing up there, but in the meantime, let's keep talking. Hope this was interesting for you to read - it helped me organize my continuums a little.

No comments: