February 15, 2017
CREATING AND CAREGIVING: A TRICKY ALLIANCE
As the team settles in this morning, Jonathan shares his experience as the moderator of a talkback for the modern dance company SYREN last Saturday night. Jonathan’s Purchase College classmates founded and direct the company, so it was a pleasure for him to work with his good friends again. Unexpected bonus: Jonathan re-connected with former classmates and colleagues attending the performance and discovered that they have been following Second Story’s work on social media! Even better: They have started families and are planning to move to Westchester. Jonathan capitalized on this situation and invited them to consider joining Second Story when they move to the area. Judging by their enthusiastic reception to Jonathan’s idea, Second Story may very well experience a growth spurt in the not-too-distant future!
Jonathan, Mandy and Lorena begin the class segment by doing individual stretching work. Sebastian becomes fussy when mom’s attention shifts to warming up. Lorena explains that he became used to cuddling/sleeping in her arms during his illness, so it is difficult for him to separate from her now. He seeks out her arms for a good portion of the class, only intermittently distracted by some cool new toys. Eliza quickly decides that dad’s arms are the way to go, so both kids are along for the ride.
The three dancers then warm-up together, finding creative ways to move with the children. We see amazing feats of balance – Jonathan with Eliza in one arm, Lorena with Sebastian perched on the barre. The kids love it! No wonder they keep returning for more, despite the team’s best efforts to soothe them and convince them to play with the toys that, at home, were utterly captivating.
The dancers contribute ideas for the across-the-floor combinations, reveling in moving to great music. Although Jonathan can’t go full out while holding Eliza, Lorena takes advantage of Sebastian’s brief distraction to fly with Mandy across the floor. Their sense of freedom and delight permeates the entire studio!
Break time is only 10 minutes behind schedule. The break not only provides time to eat and tend to the needs of the kids, but to discuss upcoming business issues. Vacations are noted, and possible dates for a showing are considered. Jonathan wants to invite the potential new Second Story members to our showing to give them a close-up look at the way we work. Jonathan also reports on the status of other collaborative efforts being explored.
Work on Jonathan’s piece begins 20 minutes late, but hey -- we’ve got to plan for our future! Despite having to hold Eliza, Jonathan manages to demonstrate refinements for many of the poses in the opening segment of his dance. Shapes, lines, angles and spacing are all under review. Jonathan gives very specific notes about the quality of Mandy’s hand gestures to effectively convey a particular internal experience. Her movements are quite dramatic and emotionally charged. Jonathan works with Lorena on positioning vis-à-vis Mandy to communicate the nature of their relationship and enhance visual interest. The dancers collectively work out very intricate partnering details -- all while Lorena is still holding Sebastian!
However, it’s clear that Jonathan needs to be hands-free, so to speak. Sherri steps in to take Eliza in her arms. Although Eliza is initially very unhappy with this intervention, she gradually calms down as they examine the photos of dance students on the wall and try to replicate the dancers’ movements. At the same time, Sebastian becomes engaged with an iPad. Finally able to fully focus on their work, Jonathan, Mandy and Lorena incorporate the changes, do a full run-through of the piece so far, and even develop new material. Yay team!
Since the kids are still engaged in other activities, Lorena and Mandy continue this level of concentration as they begin work on Lorena’s piece. Lorena joins Mandy in marking a particular section of the solo. Mandy works on replicating a very specific, difficult rhythmic movement of her arms and hands that Lorena demonstrates. Lorena coaches Mandy on details such as arm extension and chest position. Lorena is supportive and encouraging, assuring Mandy, “We’ll keep playing with it.”
Lorena repeatedly replays several musical phrases, each time trying to find the movement execution that feels right. Together with Mandy, the dancers test various possibilities, including repeating an earlier motif. Lorena explains that she is seeking a movement quality that is a little more “wild.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan works on choreographic ideas for his piece on the other side of the room. He, too, takes advantage of the kids’ involvement in their play to immerse himself in his work.
The balance between creating and caregiving was certainly tricky for a good portion of the rehearsal. However, the dancers conclude the session with concentrated bursts of creativity, secure in the knowledge that the kids are alright.
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