Category Archives: performances
You guys! We have graphics (stolen from the Facebook event) and everything!
…Here’s a plain text linky, too:
In other news, D and I started working on our PlayThink piece this weekend. I might have forgotten that he’s not accustomed to basing fish-hooks with danseurs who got dat grand allegro booty. I kept discombobulating him and, as such, he kept dropping me :O
Regardless, we got the first two verses sketched out. I just need to resurrect the ballet choreography from whatever room corner of my mental Dance Attic it’s crammed into.
I promise that this act is all kinds of silly and definitely not knock-you-on-the-head-political like “Fade to White.” Instead, it’s fun and light-hearted, and if you’re in the area you should to PlayThink and see it.
But mostly you should to PlayThink because it’s like everything you secretly hoped adulthood be like when you were 5, and that’s amazing.
In my head, I don’t necessarily choreograph for myself, but in reality, I often choreograph on myself.
As an artist, you kind of tend to work with the materials at hand—and as a dancer, the materials at hand are, more often than not, you.
Even if you have access to an entire dance company, they eventually get hungry and tired and cranky and want to go home: so, at the end of the day, at least 33% of the time (assuming the normal “8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what you will,” which is admittedly a really bold assumption, given that apparently even semi-professional dancers have completely insane schedules) it’s just you(1,2).
- And your kitchen, or possibly your living room, or maybe (if you’re lucky) the spare bedroom in which you’ve opted for an inflatable bed over a regular guest bed so you’ll have room to dance. As LF said once, “I suspect that my dances are basically always shaped more or less like my living room.”
- Possibly also your cat. Cats love to help with things like yoga and modern dance, especially if there’s floorwork. They’re generally more ambivalent about ballet. Thus, if you’re a Crazy Cat Person, I highly recommend choosing ballet as your choreographic discipline. Extra points if you actually succeed in training your cats to dance the corps parts. Mine only does floorwork. His primary and secondary curves, though? Legit.
Likewise, when you put your work out there as someone who’s just starting out in choreography, chances are good that you’re also going to find yourself performing it.
As it turns out, that’s surprisingly weird.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned my greatest asset as a performer: that wild (if momentary) overconfidence that makes me unafraid to get up in front of an audience and
make a complete ass out of myself dance like nobody’s watching. To be honest, that same wild overconfidence is one of my greatest assets, period: I have no fear of public speaking, for example, and I come off pretty well in job interviews as long as I’m prepared(2).
- The same can’t be said for ordinary conversations: they always veer off into unexpected territory, which makes it bleeding hard to study for them. If everyone would just stop going off script all the time, I’d be fine.
This weekend I discovered that my Magical Wild Overconfidence does not extend to performing my own choreography.
The nice part about being the choreographer is that when performance time rolls around, you can always just shut your eyes or spend the whole performance locked in a stall in the restroom, then slap yourself across the face a couple of times and come out looking fresh and rosy if and when you’re called upon to take a bow.
If you’re both the choreographer and one of the dancers, however, you lose that luxury. You have to go out there and do the thing, even if at the last minute you realize that the thing in question is terrible and that you’ve done something completely stupid with that entire passage from 01:34 – 2:39 (MORE THAN A MINUTE OF ABJECT STUPIDITY!!! OH G-D)(4).
- Don’t worry. This is not, in fact, an actual example from my own life. There are a couple of moments in which I wish I’d made different decisions because our rehearsal floor and our performance space were shaped just differently enough to turn circles into narrow lozenges, which sometimes made things weird momentarily, but nothing was that bad for that long.
Anyway, it seems that, when I’m performing my own choreography, I worry no more than usual about how well I’ll dance. The trajectory of my ability as a dancer seems to be pretty steadily upward, and I know what kind of mistakes I tend to make and how to counteract them (and that I do so with increasing success every time I learn a new piece).
Instead, impostor syndrome rears its ugly head and reminds me that, as a choreographer, I have no idea what I’m doing. And no qualifications. Like, none whatsoever(5).
- Except, you know, a lifetime of watching dance, something like ten years of actually dancing, and the fact that someone who has seen my choreographic ideas invited me to choreograph this piece. But, honestly, that doesn’t feel like much.
So, basically, part of me is like, “Here’s this idea, I hope you guys like it, please don’t throw rotten tomatoes if it’s terrible because I really can’t afford the cleaning bill.”
None of this was, in any way, ameliorated by the fact that I invited BW and his boyfriend to come and see my choreographic debut, heh. I also conveniently managed to acquire a nasty cold of some sort that cropped up around Thursday and was at its worst on Sunday morning, which didn’t help me feel any more secure.
As such, I was in fact hella nervous on Saturday evening: but we got through it and nobody died, and in truth I think it went pretty well.
Anyway, the “official” video’s up, and I got to see it today. It’s not public yet, as not everyone has chimed in with permission to make it so, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem.
It looks better than it felt, which is comforting. I felt like I was way ahead and screwing everything up the whole time. In fact, in the video, I’m mostly on point timing-wise (including the little bits that fall into a brief canon), not as awkward as I felt by half, and only the off-kilter extension a la seconde early on looks particularly meh. That was the cold’s doing, as it affected my balance.
There are a couple of moments in which I clearly didn’t think about what to do with my arms during a transition. If I get a chance to stage this dance again, I’ll program something in to fix that.
This is one of the challenges in working in a stream of dance other than ballet: you have to think about all that stuff. In ballet—particularly classical ballet—what you do with your arms is largely a foregone conclusion. The technique offers only so many options, and “forget to use your arms entirely” is essentially never one of them.
There are also some spaces that feel kind of blank: like, the action in this dance happens in flurries, and I don’t know that I’ve joined those flurries together terribly well. Those are things I’ll revisit somewhere down the line.
In the end, nobody died, and my piece was rather delightfully well-received. As a first effort, I’m pretty happy with it. The human origami bits (which, sadly, didn’t work as smoothly on the mats as they did on the dance floor) are my favorite parts, and I suspect that sort of thing will appear in my future efforts.
I don’t know if performing my own choreography will get any less weird as time goes by. I guess I’ll find out!
I feel like it might be less weird if the piece in question was strictly a ballet piece, because I feel more at home in the medium of ballet.
Obviously, all my thoughts on this aren’t terribly well organized.
I am, at least, getting over the cold now, which is good (although at yesterday’s rehearsal, our script-writer described my voice as “Totally Metal!” which was kind of awesome in its own way :D).
…And, of course, I’m already thinking about the Next Big Thing—which, in this case, Orpheus (not my choreography, but I’m dancing all the things), followed by PlayThink, where I’m performing a ballet-and-acro piece with Denis. Can’t wait!
Tiny update: just looked at a video of the second dance we’ve learned for Orpheus, and holy cow, it looks really amazing already! Can’t share that one because Orpheus is still in rehearsals, but I’m stoked.
Our performance last night rocked the house. We legitimately got an ovation of stunning enthusiasm, which melted my heart and went on after the curtain came down and made us hug each-other as we scurried off the stage.
That was great.
We were all together, the choreography worked, I hit the turns and the jumps, and the partnering bits were on point.
But the thing that made me proud of myself, be honest, is that I danced 3/4s of our piece in just one shoe and almost nobody noticed. One my friends who’s in theater noticed that I only had one shoe and thought it was intentional 😀
The shoe started peeling off almost immediately, and within the first minute was barely hanging on by the toe. It would definitely have come off in the next bit and potentially tripped someone, so I neatly flicked it into the wings on the upstage-right leg of a running figure eight and just went on without it.
Since it was the right shoe, this made The Apollo jump—which in this dance lifts off from and initially lands on the right foot—a bit alarming, because shiny tights are hella slippery. I did it anyway, a more cautiously than I wanted, but evidently it still looked good.
Anyway, all the girls were amazing, and I can’t wait to dance with them again.
I also can’t wait see the video. I’ve seen a 20-second pirate clip that looked pretty great!
That’s it for now. I had class and a 2 hour rehearsal today, so I’m ready for some R&R.
Tomorrow is a day off, and maybe even Tuesday 😉 We’ll see how it goes.
Coda: Apparently the faculty was very much impressed by how well we mastered quite a complicated dance in very little time.
I’m just exploding with joy it, still.
It’s 9:34 on a Saturday, which means that usually I’d be in the midst of being slowly fondu-ed to death in the interest Of Art.
Instead, I’m loafing in bed, reading the Internet, and generally being as lazy as is humanly possible.
A bunch of us who are who normally take the 9 AM advanced class on Saturday but who are dancing tonight decided to opt for 12:30 class instead. That way we’ll likely be on form, but not cooked, and there won’t be 10 hours between class and our performance.
I still woke up at 8 AM, and as such in disappointed in myself for failing to take full advantage the situation and sleep in properly, but what can you do? The cat and my bladder conspired against me, but I got a decent night’s sleep regardless.
There’s this terrible paradox about days like this one; to short-run performances. We’re performing exactly once, and I’m terribly excited about it, so I simultaneously want it to time to go and also want to savor every second of this day.
I suppose this is a good time for a of literal Zen: à le “Present moment, only moment.”
The moment of the performance will come either way.
Right now I can enjoy reading, resting, my husband, and our cat (who is being maddened by the sounds of birds visiting our roofline).
All things in moderation, then: including laziness.
This is us with our fabulous impresario:
… And this is me goofing off my dressing room tonight:
My right hand is essentially behaving, but my left hand is like, “Um, Don Quixote? Maybe? Just a little?”
Tomorrow, WE DANCE!
I just got notification that we’re in for PlayThink’s performance showcase this year!
I have a couple of months to teach D our choreography and work any kinks, which should be plenty of time.
For this act, I’m putting together an acro/ballet/physical theater piece to Charles Trenet’s classic, “La Mer.” I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The piece is built around a couple of bumbling tourists at the seashore. Since its 100% mine, I’ll post rehearsal clips once we start working on it.
You guys, I’m so excited! This will be our second year teaching, but our first year performing at PlayThink.
I can’t wait!
Tonight we ran the dance in the big studio downtown. It’s literally twice as big (at least) as the smallest studio at the school, where we rehearsed on Monday.
As such, we totally lost our spacing and the timing went crazy. The Apollo jump didn’t come off because there was a Siren directly in my flight path (in a moment of glittering wit, I think I literally said, “Oh! You’re there!”) and spazzed into some mutant pas de chat Italien.
I at least made it to the right spot at the end, though. So there’s that.
The second run was a lot better. We’d adjusted to the space; we knew roughly how fast we had to run and far traveling steps could travel (tl;dr: FAR).
I hit the turn in second and the Apollo jump dead on, though doing so made me realize something about my brain operates when I’m performing: I click into a mode in which my mind is roughly one step ahead my body.
This works brilliantly for the choreography that I have down pat, but it’s a bit problematic with new stuff, especially details.
Like, the arms on the turn and the Apollo jump are hella specific and pretty important, and I have literally no idea what I did with them. I mean, I know I got them up, but whether I kept up and opened after is a major blank spot my proprioceptive “video.”
On the other hand, I’ll have time to work on that and adjust tomorrow and Friday if necessary. It’s the single newest piece of the dance, so a little repetition will help.
The girls keep commenting on how I never get a break the dance—how I’m forever dashing from one end of the stage to the other. Before tonight, I didn’t think I actually dashed around any more than they did, but dancing the in a much bigger space me realize that I do, in fact, travel a lot.
In fact, in the big studio, I really had to drop the hammer to make it from one sequence to another.
Anyway, overall, I think we did all right, under the circumstances.
Tomorrow and Friday we’re in the theater. Evidently the stage is a little smaller than the studio, so we should be to adjust.
Honestly, the hardest part for me is judging exactly when to run out of the wings. I need to make it roughly a third the way the stage before my sauté arabesque.
Anyway, I’m excited about our dance in the theater tomorrow. For now, though, I’m going to roll my legs again, eat something, go to bed.
When you have a ballet company full of people who need to be able to to lay hands on the the right costumes at the right times, there are any number of ways to keep things sorted.
One of them is to write the name of the dancer who’s using a given item somewhere inside said item.
Our fitting today was peppered with exclamations of, “I’m wearing Bovard’s tutu!” and the like.
As for me, I have no idea whose tiny, tiny, tiny little shirt I’ve got—honestly, I was too busy being afraid it wouldn’t even go over my head and failed to look—but I can at least identify the history of my tights(1).
- SPOILER ALERT: they aren’t BW’s, though that would have been super cool.
I know the dancer, KW (no relation to BW, though they both have beautiful eyes), whose name is written inside my tights. He’s very good. I hope some of his excellence rubs off on me!
I was, in all honesty, really rather surprised that I fit into the positively miniature clothes I tried on today—I was particularly alarmed about possibly exploding the tights, as they just had me slip them on over my own tights, since we trotted down for our fitting in the midst of barre. But they went on just fine and did not experience catastrophic seam failure and actually felt quite nice (and silky: I don’t own any shiny tights, but maybe I should).
The funny part is that I got completely re-costumed at the last minute(2) because BW spotted a shirt that, while stylistically quite different (like, night-and-day, ancient-and-modern different) from his original idea, really fit into the look of our little miniature company rather nicely.
- And might, in fact, still get re-re-costumed yet. I am apparently pretty much standard Ballet Company Medium, so the possibilities are more or less endless.
Everything got changed, including the shoes: ironically, to the only standard men’s ballet ballet shoe color I don’t already have in my stable. Fortunately, the color in question is grey, and almost every ballet company in the world has a herd of grey shoes connected with Nutcracker’s rats. If all else fails, BG’s feet are only a little bigger than mine, and he thinks I should be able to borrow his.
Evidently, the ensemble works quite well on me, though I didn’t get to see it. We were down in the Mysterious Cavern of the Wardrobe, and there wasn’t a mirror down there. I’m not sure whether I’m happier that I didn’t, because that prevents me feeling insecure about specific things, or if I might have preferred to have a gander at it after all.
I’m leaning towards being very much okay with not having seen how I look, possibly on the “if you can’t see it, it can’t see you” principle—like, if I haven’t seen any specific things about which which I might feel feel insecure, then I’m effectively hidden from the Insecurity Monster that lives somewhere in the neighborhood of my amygdala.
It’s an interesting thing, anyway, this odd little dose of animism, if you will, that has the lot of us mildly giddy about whose bits of costumery we’re borrowing.
That said, I’m not going to investigate it too closely just right now.
Even my wild overconfidence could stand to benefit, after all, from the occasional magical feather—or from KW’s magical tights.