Archive for the ‘Creative Process’ Category

Pardon our Progress 4, the Band

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

A glorious 4 hours rehearsing with In One Wind!!  This living room was packed with dizzying skill, beauty and the artist’s soul…as evidenced by the hearts scribbled in my notebook in an effort not to gush embarrassingly…

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So I’ll gush here instead.  :)

Evan Mazunik: these mighty forearms coax out the most lovely and nuanced phrases you ever heard.

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Angelo Spagnolo: magnanimous melodies careen via hairpin turns into startling discoveries. Fierce and full of care.

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Mallory Glaser: a bright beauty…her silvery, slippery voice floats, sneaks, vaults into the air.

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Max Jaffe: full body rhythm…infinite articulations driving, scattering, painting, splashing color everywhere.

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Steven Lugerner: beguiling, bravado, brash, he’ll eat you up and spit you out better than ever.  Oh, and pick a reed, any reed…this guy can do it, and I mean DO.

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And Rob Lundberg: assuming in the most unassuming way. Deeply vibrant…expansive resonance from this tall, gentle hero.

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Not to mention the decor…

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Interview on Bonniekate.com

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

A friend of mine recently posted an interview with me on her website.  So great to think through my dancing history…thanks Bonnie!

Here it is…

Pardon our Progress 3, the cast

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

We had a wonderful, fun rehearsal this week at the lovely Greenspan dance studio in Williamsburg, and I found myself gazing at the dancers like I often caught my dad doing to me and my sister as teenagers.  We’d start to feel a warm spot on the backs of our heads and when we turned around there he was, glowing at us.  I’d roll my eyes with a loud “DAD!?” and the spell would be broken.

Well, now it’s my turn.  Of course with my children it’s much worse, but these dancers pull such sweetness out of me, even I can’t stand it sometimes.  They are amazing…beautiful, smart, tireless, and mind readers to boot!

Back in July 2011 I decided it was finally time to take the plunge and begin this new work that had been brewing in my soul for over a few years.  I knew the piece would be about family.  My family, your family…  I knew the cast would have to embody these characters vigorously and have a vibrant chemistry with one another.  I immediately invited Xan Burley and Alex Springer over for dinner and asked them to play Mother and Father.  I had worked with this dynamic duo over the previous two years in the creation and reincarnations of Selvedge, and I knew they would be able to fulfill the piece with their gloriously nuanced movement invention, savvy and fearless partnering, and general aesthetic chutzpah.  Plus–they’re married!!!  (I found this a very helpful quality during our recent love scene video shoot…more on that later.)

Which left Daughter and Son.  The tricky thing about casting this piece is its character-based nature.  I had pretty specific notions of what I wanted these characters to be like, so it was a little like searching for the people who looked and behaved exactly like the fantasies in my mind, hoping that they even existed outside the confines of my skull…and if they did, hoping they were modern dancers.  Who lived in NYC.  Who were deeply talented performers willing to spend hours and weeks and months together going to awkward and exquisite physical and emotional places with an equally quixotic hope that they’d get paid at the end.

I almost can’t believe it, still.  But these people do exist, they are dancers in NY, and they are talented, generous and daring enough to explore and embody this vision with me.  Thank you, Janna Diamond and Niko Tsocanos!  Hope you don’t mind the warm light radiating toward you from my face…

Pardon our Progress 2, a brief history

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

I thought I’d write about the waters from which the idea for Requiem for This arose.  But as I swim backwards through the creative dreamings and schemings that led to this project, I’m finding those waters pretty murky.  It seems that the work’s genesis is less a linear river of thoughts and events, and more a circling eddy of permeable and osmosing ideas, longings, interests and experiences.  I have no way to identify the exact moment of conception…I suppose I could cite the moment of my conception, but even that loses sight of the influence of my parents’ histories and their parents’ histories, etc., etc.  Anyway, you get the idea.

Well, a few generative moments are floating to the surface, and I hereby attempt to make sense of them…

–The summer of 2009, I worked briefly on a new idea exploring identity as a kind of “core sample” of personal history, but viewed and experienced not from the side, as individual strata delineating clear seasons in time, but from above, looking down through the core sample and getting all that history mottled and compressed into one moment.  The piece never found its feet but I find myself referring to it now as a potent descriptive device for many elements of Requiem for This.

–About 2 years ago Evan Mazunik (composer, friend) asked me to answer a handful of questions as the featured artist of the month on the blog he and his wife, Colette, created in search of an environment “where exploration, improvisation, and expression are encouraged, where making things is valued more than consuming things.”  (You can read the interview here.)  The last question prompted a series of ideas for a piece that takes place in a home.  With candles.  I’m pretty sure this dreaming starting the ball rolling, consciously, and it turns out that candles will indeed play a prominent role.

–Also a couple years ago another idea really captivated me, and I was sure this was the next big piece I’d make.  It would have been a reworking of my earlier Flypaper Dances (2005), with a darker tone, set to a Requiem to be composed by the aforementioned Mazunik.  I had gotten through the initial brainstorming phase, cast a few dancers, written a couple of grant applications, worked with Evan on a few musical sketches for the piece, and began toying with the idea of titling the piece Requiem.  Then I discovered I was pregnant again and all work ceased.

–I believe it was then that my family life took on a more dramatic and pained quality, and my features began to cultivate the constant look of an unwilling martyr.  The subsequent experiences with my children and husband probably influence the work most directly.  Requiem for This being somewhat autobiographical, I’ve got a lot of serious research under my belt!  Thankfully for us all, the experiences have finally begun to sweeten, so the dance will encompass the rapturous glories as well as the frustrations of family life (especially as this year I’m attempting to give up complaining for Lent).

–With Orion’s growing independence, Leif’s entrance into Kindergarten, and my emergence from a depression that convinced my husband I needed to be making dances, I allowed myself to consider the tentative possibility of maybe attempting to explore the potential of endeavoring to embark upon the unfolding journey of a seed idea that I began to allude to by the working title, Requiem for This

And we’re off!!!!!

Pardon our Progress…1

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Alright!  It’s nap time, Leif’s at school and I have 7 minutes before my alarm tells me to go pick him up.  The perfect, focused time to jump start a production blog about my upcoming show, Requiem for This.  So…

The bliss…

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

I’m honored to be June’s Featured Artist of the Month at Bliss Street Studios, “the multidisciplinary home of Colette and Evan Mazunik…representing various realms of creativity, where exploration, improvisation, and expression are encouraged, where making things is valued more than consuming things.”

Check it out here!

seam: check.

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Whew.  It’s been 41 days since seam‘s closing night at 100 Grand loft theater in SoHo, and I’m just now feeling able to process and enjoy the rich, satisfying, exhausting and thrilling experience of it all.  Other than a feverish bout with strep throat during shows 2 & 3, all went very, very well.  Thanks to everyone who came out, including my 99 year-old grandmother from CALIFORNIA!

With each production, I continue to ponder why we do what we do as creators and, more specifically, as self-producers.  It really can be a harrowing task, but somehow I keep going back.  A glutton for punishment??  Maybe.  Addicted to adrenalin?  Probably!

As to my vote for Element of Greatest Enjoyment, I’m torn between the months of building a work with gorgeous and creative dancers, and the few nights of interaction with open and resonant audiences.  I am always amazed and enlightened by what the audience brings to and draws from the work…it’s such a delight to talk with people after the show and hear their reflections, which teach me so much about making and sharing the art of dance.  This time around, the long creative journey contained much of that give and take as well, since I delved for the first time into a more intensive collaborative approach.  Heartfelt thanks goes out to the brilliant cast and contributors from my group work, Selvedge–Xan Burley, Leah Ives, Molly Knochel, Stephanie Miracle, Kaitlin Morse, Edward Rice and Alex Springer!!  And also to the other artists who contributed their dynamic and textured work to the show–alexanDance, Miriam Hess Crowell, Stephanie and Jimmy Miracle and lighting designer John Eckert.  I love this community…

To the finish line…

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I can’t believe our newest show, seam, is in only three weeks!  For the next week I’ll feel elated as things really start coming together: the big group piece is finding itself (as yet untitled, but I’m considering some doozies…), my solo is gaining momentum and I’m psyched to start rehearsing with Justin on sax, and other elements like lighting and costumes will be settling in very soon.  But then I’ll face the final two weeks when my thoughts will turn from awed energy to frantic scrambling.  That’s when the myriad little (big) things I’ve forgotten about will begin rattling around in the subconscious file cabinet I keep in the back of my brain and I’ll remember all that stuff in one big tsunami of panic.  But, thankfully, there’s that heroic je ne sais quoi that pretty much always swoops in to save the day.  Maybe it’s the muse, God, the patron angel of impossible creative projects…you know who I mean.

A few of you have asked about the concert’s title.  We spent a lot of time trying to find a metaphor that would reflect something of each of the five different pieces on the show, and seam fit the bill.  So, by way of summary, here’s what the show’s about:

–noun

1. the line formed by sewing together pieces of cloth, leather, or the like.
2. the stitches used to make such a line.
3. any line formed by abutting edges.
4. any linear indentation or mark, as a wrinkle or scar.
5. Knitting. a line of stitches formed by purling.
6. Geology. a comparatively thin stratum; a bed, as of coal.
–verb (used with object)

7. to join with or as if with stitches; make the seam or seams of.
8. to furrow; mark with wrinkles, scars, etc.
9. Knitting. to knit with or in a seam.
–verb (used without object)

10. to become cracked, fissured, or furrowed.
11. Knitting. to make a line of stitches by purling.

See you in three weeks!!  Aaaaa!

Thank you, Sumac!

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Way back in June, I participated in my FAVE Susan Marshall and Company‘s intensive workshop called SUMAC: Systems for Understanding Movement and Choreography. I was so thrilled to be accepted into this 6-day experience, along with 5 other choreographers and 18 dancers from around the country, to learn about this group’s collaborative creative process and to ogle at my current idols of choreography and performance.

Aside from my own exhausting and nauseating limitations (being 12 weeks pregnant), my time at Sumac went far beyond my hopes for creative nourishment, challenge and rejuvenation. Susan, along with company members Kristen Hollinsworth, Luke Miller, Petra van Noort, Joseph Poulson and Darrin Wright surprised and delighted me with their generous teaching spirits and true encouragement. And lecturers Deborah Jowitt and Lisa Kron offered profound and hard-won insights into the creation of meaning in dance and performance. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with such eminent artists and scholars. It was amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Highlights of the week:
–Two long days exploring tools for movement and choreographic invention. Company members led us through various games and exercises geared to opening our creative and critical faculties for finding new voices and idioms in our work. Lots of discussion, LOTS of moving and so so fun.
–Working sessions in which we, the choreographers, worked with the dancers on small studies which we showed and discussed with the entire group later in the day. In addition to working with some fabulous fellow students, I had the pleasure of directing Darrin, Kristen and Luke in various sessions and was humbled by their reception and, of course, masterly execution of the ideas we were exploring. Particularly satisfying was the day we turned Darrin into a sinister lettuce-grabber…but that’s another post altogether.
–One-on-one meetings with Susan. She just kills me. So smart, so savvy and thoughtful. One of our conversations opened my eyes to a deeper, more nuanced and powerful way of viewing and guiding the creative process. I have little patience for “anything goes” kind of art and tend to overwork my stuff in a too-controlled backlash. Susan helped me to become more open to “anything” while still retaining a specific, directive voice to make carefully crafted decisions on what eventually “goes”.

Now that I’m working on a new piece for Seam (in four weeks–aaa!), I’m even more grateful for the rich and changing Sumac experience. Through close collaboration with my most excellent cast I’m finding WAY more freedom and power in our explorations and am now in the curious position of channeling a huge torrent of great ideas, rather than trying to make my narrower ones push out into something bigger. What a great problem to have…

Costume Pickin’s

Thursday, April 16th, 2009
J. David Dishman (c) 2007

J. David Dishman (c) 2007

If you know me at all, you might think this is the floor of my bedroom. But then, you’d say, there’s so much floor visible, so it can’t be that. Yes, this is the typical process of picking costumes for a low-budget dance piece that wants to look amazing. (This particular view is from RIBS 2008.) And it’s that time again…Roux is a new quintet that premieres this weekend at the off-Broadway Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater just off, well, Broadway near Columbus Circle (details in the Upcoming page). So today I spent some magical moments with our costume designer, the lovely Kylie Fife, watching and pretending to assist her hocus pocus as she transformed the contents of about 8 closets into a cohesive, bold aesthetic statement. All I’m saying is, neon orange never looked so elegant. Thanks, Fife!!