(i'm one of 4 choreographers for Velocity's Bridge Project this year. i made a piece called Doin' it Right. here for you is a slice of my brain, transcribed in English.)
I walked into the studio the first day of rehearsal and flat out told the dancers (there's 5 of them Katie Thompson, Kate Pope, Britt Gaudette, Liz Houlton, and Lindsey Palmquist), that Hi, Welcome, and I have no idea what this piece is about. I knew something about my approach to it, working with language and the idea of text, subtext and supertext. But I had no idea what I wanted to say with this piece. Which, maybe for someone who isn't me, this wouldn't be that big a deal but pretty much every piece I've made up till now I've know, with varying degrees of certainty, what the piece was about. And that informed what happened on stage. Whether it was a straight narrative piece with still images, or a voice over'd piece with movement along with it. My work has a very strong storytelling element to it. Well, not just element, it's like the whole molecule. That's kind of the driving force behind my art. And so to walk in day one and not have a story to start with, I was like, well. . . let's see what happens.
It wasn't until about 2.5 weeks into the almost 4 week process that I figured out what this piece is about, for me. And I'm not gonna tell you what that is here, you have to come to the show to find out. But, sneak peek, it turned out to be a lot about a specific ongoing experience and that in turn really made it about process. Just following the movement, a lot of exploring, finding what it is that moves me, what it is that moves my dancers, on an unspoken level, and building from there. And it turns out the story was there the whole time, it just took us a little playing around to find it.
Side note, I've never been more thrilled to go to rehearsal in my life. Well, I mean, I've had good rehearsals in my life, they were fun, but this one took it to the next level somehow. Like, I've never felt more alive in a rehearsal process in such a consistent way. And I was telling my dancers that the difference between me alone in the studio, and me in the studio with all them, was dialog. I love dialog. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love to monologue, but there's something extra special with dialog. With conversation specifically. This piece has been an incredibly collaborative process. I feel really, like, fuck yeah! to have had time with these five people to just open up the process, this creative process and get to know one another in order to figure out answers- What are we doing? Why are we here? Why do we move? What moves us? On like a physical level, yeah, but on a mental, spiritual, emotional level as well. Those things to me are just as important, or, have equal importance, rather, because for me the movement comes from those other levels, from that emotion, from those feelings, those thoughts. That's what movement is for me. Or at least, that's the interesting part for me of movement. I mean, yeah, there's dance vocabulary, great, and you can say a lot with dance and these dancers are super fluent and articulate in that language, but I'm like, as a writer, as a human, as as an artist, as a relative newcomer to dance as a mode of expression, I'm, like, well, that's fine and all, but What are you trying to say??? What are you telling me??
And for me this goes back to this other influence: this core observation that when we talk, we move our bodies, some people more than others, of course, and some of that is cultural, some is personal, but there's all these hand gestures and shrugs and eyebrow arching and we're not even really conscious about that but more interestingly, these movements are not exactly necessary to move the story along, to say what you wanna say. So if they aren't necessary, then why do it? And then the other question that comes up for me, is like, well shit, are words inadequate by themselves? I mean, that would explain the use of all caps and bold and italics. And why my text messages get so misinterpreted sometimes.
So this idea of movement as communication. And not that it's compensating for, like, a lack in just pain text, but the idea of What if they are inseparable, movement and language? That you can't, that you can't, that, that words alone don't tell the full story, and that dance alone doesn't tell the full story. I mean it can, yes, in both cases, you just fill in the blanks with your own story. But yeah, this is just my opinion. I just don't think you can separate the two. For me they are in intrinsically linked. I mean, all the elements of performance are, if you think about it. the music, the setting, what time of day it's happening, who you are sitting next to, what you did 10 minutes before walking thru that door, it's all part of it. And so it's taking this like, I don't know, bigger picture approach, or something. Or not even, I mean, noting that for sure, but I think it just boils down to: I'm just really interested in this connection between writing – both the written and spoken word – and movement and dance. I've been calling it Dance Narrative, and so yeah, I made a Dance Narrative piece. With 5 dancers. And i'm not in it. Oops! Spoiler alert! Ha! Yeah, I'm not in it. Well, not physically, at least.
come check out the show: velocity dance center, jan 29, 30 and 31, 8pm