Saturday, July 16, 2016

Making the Dance I’ve Not Made Before

As an artist it is easy to explore and re-explore a structure, topic, theme, motif, etc.  And, there is tremendous value to this deepening of the creative experience surrounding a single concept.  When we dive again and again into the waters of a single idea, we see new light, new shade, new nooks and crannies of potential. It is a beautiful practice.  The challenge in the dance world is that our field has been consistently fascinated with that which is new.  Dance makers are often seeking something new and different from their work.  There is a common striving for continual reinvention of aesthetic.  And, yet, it is hard to escape ourselves.

And, we often end up making the same dance over and over. Maybe different costumes or music or lighting, but essentially the same thing over and over. 


So, as I reflect on my newest creative endeavor, I am wondering do I try to create something new? Do I deepen something I have explored before?  And, more importantly, how do I know if I am doing what I set out to do?  Either approach is fine, but what I don’t want is to create the same dance again thinking that I am being innovative when I’m not. 

So what do I do? Where do I start?  I know some of my favorite choreographic devices. I know them well.  In fact choreographic structure, use of theme and form are strengths of mine as a choreographer. I like looking at the arc of a piece, the sense of wholeness, and the overall effect of the structure for a narrative or aesthetic purpose.  I notice that I like introducing dancers in the same way. I like grouping them on the stage in certain ways. I like balancing unison with counterpoint.  And, I love front facing and diagonal front facing (mostly for the narrative or human component of the work—after all, comedy doesn’t work quite the same when turned away from the audience).   

Now, what do I do with this information?  I want to make a new dance.  I don’t want to see myself pull out the old tricks again. At least, not this time.  So, I am dedicating myself to avoid these patterns at all costs.  I force myself to do something else. Anything else!

The dance I want to make next has the working title of Dances to Heal the Soul. Each section addressing a different style and aesthetic to serve a goal that touches the spirit, heals the soul, soothes the heart. 

Maybe, I will resort to my old ways. The comfortable habits of creation.  But, maybe I will find something new in the process.  Maybe the dance will root itself in a new value, in a new structure, or in a new aesthetic.  I can only hope. 

In the meantime, as I allow all of this to incubate in my brain, before I get into the studio, I will dream the new dream. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Musing on being a dancing mama poetess

It’s been an exceptionally long time since I have posted.  I blame it on my being pregnant. That's right, in this time I have had a baby! And that. . .

Changes. . .


While pregnant, it was tough to contemplate much else, and I was too superstitious to blog about my being pregnant for fear it might not work out.  Plus, it took all my energy to be pregnant and survive teaching a full load.  But, I made it through and even fulfilled my goal of performing while pregnant. Once at 4 ½ months and again at 6 months.  It was a hoot.

So, what did I learn during this past year, now that I have a 5 week old who is just learning to nap long enough for me to write this post?  I have learned that dance making (art making) can happen under all conditions and the artist never goes to sleep even when the body is transforming on a daily basis.  I danced through the pregnancy which joy and allowed myself to dance differently while experience the changes happening to my physically and emotionally.

In many ways being a pregnant dance maker was a piece of cake.  Now that the bun is out of the oven, I have many more challenges as my schedule revolves around caring for this new life I have created.  So when and how do I makes dances now?  Patiently, sporadically, theoretically while dosing off into a nap. I recently wrote a friend about dance making:

Dance making is a fascinating way of life. And, it is interesting who perseveres and how they persevere in the dance making process.  It seems that those of us who embed our lives and our learning in our art making seem to have a more sustainable time of it. . . Our creative energies have so many outlets and they all feed each other in the end as they all feed us. When we work honestly it flows out of us like a source energy.  That energy and our lives that swirl around it are the research. . . The journey continues in all conditions and we experience the ebb and flow as we ride the wave.   Mine includes the creative practice of raising a newborn.

I was pleased to get back into the studio last week, a trial run for my body and for babysitting! It went as well as I could expect, and tomorrow I head back into the studio again. I’m not sure where the next stage will take me as I am living moment to moment, hour to hour, nap to nap.  But, I do so with hope and joy.  When things get tough, I surrender myself to the challenge, weep as needed and move on.  We can’t plan for perfection, and I believe it is a mistake to expect it.  Dancing and art making will happen.  It is meant to happen as it happens.  And, therefore, I will stay true to my belief and practice of making dance under all conditions.