February 1, 2017
MAYBE WE’RE NOT A START-UP ANYMORE
In anticipation of today’s session, Jonathan contacted the team yesterday and proposed making a schedule for today’s rehearsal. He also floated the idea of preparing for a future studio showing. Hmmm…could we be moving out of our “start-up” phase? Energized and emboldened by Jonathan and Lorena’s well-received performances at the Croton Academy of Arts showcase, Second Story members contemplate taking the next step forward in our process. Looks like we’re entering a new phase of Second Story’s development – a little more structured and goal-driven.
Let’s see how this all unfolds…
The group agrees to follow Jonathan’s proposed rehearsal schedule which allocates specific time slots for class, work on Jonathan’s duet for Mandy and Lorena, and work on Lorena’s solo for Mandy.
Despite good intentions, of course, the best laid plans often go astray…Sure enough, conversation and child care delay the start of the class segment. Uh oh, we only have 15 minutes to warm-up. Jonathan places Eliza in a Baby Bjorn holder against his chest and alternates leading the exercises with Mandy. Eliza looks so blissfully content…who WOULDN’T want to be contained, snuggled and rocked?! Sebastian thinks it’s a great idea and insists upon the same treatment by mom. With only one Baby Bjorn in the house, though, Lorena must hold him in her arms. Alas, it’s only lower body work for Lorena until Sebastian moves on to making percussive music with plastic objects. Jonathan creates and demonstrates a phrase that the dancers use to conclude this segment.
During a 5-minute break, the team discusses Jonathan’s studio showing idea. The group seeks to determine:
Well….the discussion will just have to wait for the moment; we have work to do!
First up: Jonathan’s piece – and only 5 minutes late, according to the planned schedule! Luckily for Jonathan, it appears that Eliza’s time in the Baby Bjorn holder with him was fulfilling enough that she is now able to play independently. Consequently, he is able to enter into a moment-by-moment breakdown and evaluation of the opening phrase of his piece. Qualitative details such as direction of gaze, gestural precision, and timing are refined. The dancers review a recent video to better recall the choreography.
Moving on to the next partnering phrase, Jonathan tests out the ideas he’s been thinking about this past week. He first dances Lorena’s role with Mandy to figure out the execution of complicated partnering movements. He continues to work out the intricate elements as he teaches Lorena her part. This is some trick, since the kids keep inserting themselves between the dancers. “Don’t dance!”, Eliza beseeches her dad. Sebastian REALLY wants his mom and won’t take “no” for an answer. Jonathan attempts to soothe Sebastian by holding, playing and dancing with him – giving Lorena an opportunity to focus on learning and practicing her role. As long as Jonathan is engaged with Sebastian and not the adults, Eliza is happy to play by herself.
It’s hard to tell which “choreography” is more elaborate: the duet’s partnering movements or the “hand offs” of the kids from dancer to dancer to enable everyone to have a chance to work. Somehow, all three dancers collaborate to pinpoint precise angles, gestures, weight shifts, and timing. Together, they painstakingly experiment with twisting torsos and unusual arm positions while virtually attached to one another.
Jonathan concludes his segment of the rehearsal by reviewing the intricate arm movements and tricky timing for the next phrase during which Mandy and Lorena are again entwined.
Following a quick food break, Lorena begins work on her solo for Mandy – still only 10 minutes behind schedule! She is able to maximize the time she has available to work since Jonathan assumes the role of soother, entertainer, and playmate for Sebastian. Fortunately, Eliza is delighted to join in the festivities.
Lorena observes Mandy as she reviews her solo section, adjusting various elements such as timing and height levels of certain positions. Lorena then employs her usual approach: repeatedly dancing this segment herself so she can feel it in her own body. She continually evaluates each movement to determine whether it feels “right.” In particular, Lorena wants the choreography to follow the singer’s voice; accents of movement need to correspond with the musical accents.
Lorena proceeds to choreograph new phrases in the same way: We see a continual loop of listening to a few bars of music, getting the rhythm in her own body, generating ideas, and testing them out herself. Some are cast aside while others are developed further.
Lorena notes that while certain staccato-type movements work in her body, they may not feel natural to Mandy. Indeed, Mandy acknowledges that replicating this particular style will take a bit of practice. Lorena assures her that, together, they will discover what works for Mandy.
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