December 14, 2016
Free at Last
Jonathan was scheduled to substitute teach an early morning class at Purchase College, then arrive at the studio for the second half of today’s rehearsal. His sister agreed to babysit for Eliza while Jonathan taught at Purchase. But this morning, iPhone “pings” alerted the team to last minute changes: the Purchase class is cancelled, and Jonathan will attend the first part of rehearsal – sans kids. Since his sister had already set aside the time to watch Eliza, Jonathan now had child care for the first 2 hours of today’s session. Taking advantage of this unanticipated opportunity, Jonathan arrives at rehearsal a free man! He admits it feels a bit strange to have a reprieve from the usual juggling act. He wonders aloud, “What do I do with this unexpected freedom?” The answer is crystal clear: dive in to each element of the session with gusto and enjoy!
Jonathan first shares more information about his sister-in-law’s plans for her studio’s Martin Luther King Day show. Not only is Lorena considering performing a solo she choreographed, Jonathan is contemplating dancing the solo he originally created for Maggie Bradley. Jonathan and Maggie completed the first of 3 planned sections of the solo before she had to withdraw from the project. Since the themes explored in this work are highly personal and powerful, it makes sense for Jonathan to express these emotions and dynamics through his own interpretation of the dance.
Jonathan uses the plan he had prepared for his Purchase class to guide today’s warm-up. But the dancers aren’t the only ones creating patterns; Sebastian and Parker’s movements reveal a particular geometry – almost triangular. Snacks, toys and mommies are the respective points of the triangle. The kids are also running, grabbing and throwing objects, and chowing down on Lil’ Crunchies – the kid version of Cheetos – and equally as addictive. Sherri serves as the repository for all contraband, thereby minimizing mini-catastrophes.
With their kids occupied, the parents are free to focus on qualitative details of the warm-up and participate with fewer interruptions. Jonathan’s big smile expresses his delight with his immersion in the pre-planned warm-up.
Once again, Sebastian is captivated by the music coming out of the speakers; he appears to be internalizing the percussive rhythms of the music. Lorena confirms that he is already quite rhythmic; like mother, like son.
Lorena takes a break to hold Sebastian, explore part of the room together, then feed him.
Meanwhile, Lauren and Parker engage in a dance of their own. Parker insists upon the liquid vegetable pouch to eat, Lauren interrupts her own warm-up to feed it to her, then Parker promptly rejects it. This pattern continues until it is evident that Parker wants the cap, not the food. Mom says “no way” since the cap is a choking hazard. Parker is not pleased.
Jonathan then leads the dancers in increasingly demanding across-the-floor movements requiring precision maneuvering around wandering children.
The dancers conclude this segment of the session with freestyle hip hop dancing; what a blast!
Following the warm-up, Mandy and Lorena study the most recent video of the duet Jonathan choreographed for them. It has been weeks since they rehearsed Jonathan’s piece. They then mark the movements while Jonathan observes; everyone tries to recall the choreographic details. To keep Sebastian from seeking out his mother, Jonathan holds him on his lap while Mandy and Lorena rehearse with the music. They have difficulty remembering the complicated arm movements in the phrases in which they are entwined. Jonathan notes proper body positioning of each dancer in the pas-de-deux and clarifies how Lorena’s character ushers Mandy’s character through her movements. He promises to “clean up” the arm and leg positioning during the next rehearsal.
With only a few minutes remaining before Jonathan has to leave to pick up Edgar and Eliza, Jonathan and Mandy attempt to remember the choreography of the duet that Lorena created for them. Since Jonathan and Mandy haven’t rehearsed this piece together in several weeks – and, consequently, Lorena hasn’t focused on it – everyone tries to reconstruct the material. Lorena issues verbal prompts to stimulate recall.
Meanwhile, in one corner of the studio, Lauren works on developing choreography for a Rockettes-inspired number for Pace’s Spring dance show. When Parker is content, Lauren can focus on creating, but when Parker is frustrated, Lauren must choreograph with her daughter in her arms. It’s a draw between frustration and contentment, but Lauren manages to complete six “8’s” of material.
With caregiving demands at a relatively manageable level, today’s rehearsal is productive and invigorating.
Sherri Muroff Kalt, founder of Process Portraits, LLC and author of Portrait of an Artistic Journey: The Creative Process in Real Life Context, is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in psychology. She began her career in marketing and sales in New York City with L’Oréal, Monet Jewelers, and Givenchy. READ MORE