We spent 10 weeks in residence at Green Street Studios for their Spring 2014 Green Works program (formerly known as the Emerging Artist or New Works Program). We pushed our edges and explored new territory. Using selfies as source material, we sought to understand our relationship to ourselves and each others as watchers and when being watched, accepting attention as performers and training during classes. The piece examined body, movement quality, and emotion while shifting between the roles of director and directed, individual and shared experiences.
The piece arcs through a framework of three sections, the particulars driven by performer choices, with an original score and live accompaniment by Tyler Catanella of Paradise Lost. We are thrilled to continue to explore what we've just scratched the surface of, and cannot thank Green Street enough for creating the space and community to experiment with telling stories to move others through dance.
Until our next live performance of this piece TBD, enjoy excerpts from the April 18th, 2014 performance.
Throughout the night during the 24-Hour ChoreoFest, photographer Ryan Carollo visited us and captured our process of dance-making. A huge challenge of the 24-Hour ChoreoFest was to use limited time to create new work from scratch, using a theme that the community picked.
I try often to capture the creative process in photos and videos because the process if 90% of the work. We often only perform for a short 5 - 10 minutes, yet spend several hours creating what is performed that typically no one witnesses. What you'll see in the photo gallery below is the following (all photos by Ryan Carollo © 2013, Luminarium Dance's 24-Hour ChoreoFest).
Writing and discussion
We began with free-association writing exercises to collect our thoughts one times in our lives where we experienced 'gamble - gambling' (our theme). We continued to draw out the meaning of the theme through sharing, feedback and discussion.
We moved through the first section of our company warm-up, then continued with improvisation exercises across the floor. I asked dancers to move in their 'orbs of energy', imagining they were within a sphere of countless directions to move in, using a new direction as an impetus for movement. This progressed into partner-improvisation across the floor, using both mirroring and responsive techniques to create relationships.
In addition to phrase work that I create during any process, all dancers contribute movement phrases to the mix during initial phrase development. We circled action verbs and other words that resonated with us from our initial writing exercises. Those words became the inspiration to create a series of short phrases. These phrases are then shared and workshopped by the group in small feedback sessions. At a certain point, some phrases are chosen to develop into duets, trios and small group sections. We share all of the material with each other so we have a large vocabulary to pull from for the next part of the process. We also use this time to work through the technical aspects of lifts, jumps and turns that are also added to the vocabulary.
I decided on the first two phrases to start the piece. At this point, we had a few start and stops to attend a roundtable meeting at midnight and gathering at 2am to choose tech times and get some body-work done. When we returned, we continued to develop phrases, but had the anxious feeling that we needed to structure the piece as soon as possible so we could maybe get some sleep. Inspired by our theme - gamble - gambling - we wrote each phrase on a piece of paper, made two piles, and flipped a coin. Whoever guessed correctly chose a phrase from the heads or tails pile.
Shortly after we walked through the structure we created at 3:30am, we got the chance to sleep from 4:30 - 7:00am. From there, we went into tech
For National Dance Day 2013 (Saturday, July 27th), some Intimations Dancers gathered for a 'mini-underscore' (and some food and good times). The Underscore is a long-form dance improvisation structure developed by Nancy Stark Smith. It has been evolving since 1990 and is practiced all over the globe. We only scratched the surface of this improvisational tool, engaging with the skinesphere and kinesphere, trying to 'drop-in' and be present for a few moments. I am looking forward to using this tool to expand upon our contact-based vocabulary and work to integrate more organic partner-work into my choreography. Enjoy.
Tomorrow we'll present new work entitled "Path Integration" for ArtBeat at the Somerville Theatre at 2:30pm. The theme for this year's festival is "micro". I thought immediately of insects, being some of the smallest organisms visible to the naked eye, and yet we know very little about them. As a gardener, I am always amazed by what I learn about their abilities and roles in an ecosystem...leaf cutter ants can carry 300x their weight, others furiously process decomposition for re-birth, bees fly upwards of 7 miles a day to find pollen to make honey. The structure of their neurons are also almost identical to ours. It is not surprising to see in popular culture insects as characters, like ant colonies that band together and realize their strength in numbers have been used as metaphors for rebellion and revolution, or butterflies are a symbol for freedom and regeneration through their metamorphosis (even when distilled to a commonplace tattoo).
Through improvisation, discussion and writing exercises, we explored our own experiences using insect and bee behaviors as the starting point, including swarming in bees, nest-moving in ants and moth flight patterns when exposed to light, and transferred that into choreography. We honed in on these organisms ability to communicate location, to find flowers, to find light, to find home, and often find a new home. Bees "waggle-dance" in a pattern angled in relationship to the sun to tell other bees where to find flowers. Moths fly in spiral circles back and around again to a light source when located. When finding a new home, ants will leave trail pheromones to lead the way to a potential new home. Then, somehow, through the actions of many individuals, an ant colony will decide to move, eventually carrying their nest-mates along for the ride.
One name we've given to other organisms way of knowing place is path integration. From wikipedia: "Studies beginning in the middle of the 20th century confirmed that animals could return directly to a starting point, such as a nest, in the absence of vision...This shows that they can use cues to track distance and direction in order to estimate their position, and hence how to get home. This process was named path integration to capture the concept of continuous integration of movement cues over the journey."
I always wonder when I see a lone insect walking or in flight, if they know where they are, if they know where they are going. I watched a grass-hopper once at the bottom of a tire divot in the sand trying to jump out, over and over and over. I thought maybe that was all he/she would do that day. Were they trying to get somewhere? Where are we trying to go?
In winter 2012-2013, I set my mind to putting Intimations Dance out there, to keeping making new work and finding opportunities to share it. I sent out application after application to various festivals and programs. I guess I didn't expect so many 'yeses' to come back, but I am grateful that they have, one being the Dance for World Community Festival.
For the past month or so, we've been working on creating a new work entitled "The Last Bird". We are exploring environmental degradation through a few different lenses--- embodying birds caught in trash island or oil spill on one level; on another level, we are thinking of family dynamics, like when you're at the dinner table and one person agrees that the Keystone Pipeline for example is a great idea, or defends BP or Exxon in a conversation about recent oil spills... Trying to figure out the best way to tell a story about environmental concerns at present, with the body in motion in space.
I started developing movement language to draw from towards the end of April with birds in mind. Here is a video excerpt:
We've since continued to develop that language and use it as a base to structure the piece. Eggs hatch, fly and flock, one leaves, returns... miasma, redemption/cleaning, in as usual, a matter of a few short rehearsal hours at Green Street Studios. The most exciting part about this process has been meeting and working with new dancers. I always enjoy working with dancers who can create right there in the studio with me, add to the choreography, change it as needed for better flow and transitions, dancers who are integral to the choreographic process itself.
Here is a snippet from rehearsals with the dancers:
If you're in the Cambridge area this weekend, head out to Stage 4 of the Dance for World Community Festival at the Cambridge Common to see us premier "The Last Bird" at 1:20pm.