Thank you, Sumac!

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…

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