April 5, 2017
WHERE’S MY MUSE?
With Eliza strapped into the Baby Bjorn carrier and Sebastian exploring the studio, the dancers can be “fully present” during the warm-up period. Lorena’s closed eyes suggest a strong internal focus -- she’s taking full advantage of this rare opportunity to concentrate without distraction from the kids. The dancers decide on warm-up exercises that are in sync with their physical needs today. Jonathan proposes options and leads this segment of the rehearsal.
Before long, Eliza wants out of the Baby Bjorn; she sees that her buddy Sebastian is having so much fun that she doesn’t want to miss out on any creative play. Plastic rings, balls, pushing chairs around the studio floor and imitating their parents’ dance moves keep the kids engaged while Sherri diverts them from plugs and wires. Hooray --- the dancers are free! For the moment, anyway.
Jonathan, Mandy and Lorena invent intricate across-the-floor choreography…difficult to execute under any circumstances, but particularly challenging while dodging toddlers racing across the studio, immersed in their play.
Since Mandy has to leave early to pick up her son in time for school early dismissal, the team decides to begin with Lorena’s piece for Mandy. First round: Mandy marks the choreography, ensuring she remembers all of the material, while Lorena takes notes. Given the athletic nature of this dance, Mandy finds herself tiring about ¾ of the way through. Taking advantage of Lorena’s break for a diaper change, Mandy resumes marking the balance of the solo.
Lorena then shares her notes with Mandy. Details include starting the piece facing the wing…finding greater freedom in a particular phrase…adjustment of head positioning during extension positions…fine-tuning timing…resisting the temptation to anticipate the next move…and gestural refinements.
Round 2: Mandy runs through the solo, attempting to incorporate the details of Lorena’s notes. Lorena reminds Mandy of the necessity of pacing herself to maintain her stamina. She recommends that Mandy focus on breathing and taking it easier during certain phrases so she has the energy to be “super strong” in her execution of other phrases.
The ladies fit a lot of work into a short period of time as the kids are occupied with Jonathan. He helps them negotiate disputes, repeatedly proposing sharing strategies.
Since there is not enough time remaining to rehearse Jonathan’s duet for Mandy and Lorena before Mandy leaves, Jonathan indicates that he will write out all of his notes for Mandy and send them to her. Mandy intends to review them and fit in some rehearsal time on her own while on break next week.
When Mandy leaves, Jonathan and Lorena decide to work on their solos. Once again, they select different parts of the studio to choreograph/rehearse while listening to the corresponding music for their pieces on their iPhones. Both dancers continually test out ideas in the moment, developing some and discarding others. The discard pile seems particularly high today. Isn’t it ironic: the kids are unusually engaged in independent play (could they be growing up?!), freeing up their parents to concentrate on their work --- yet the dancers both struggle to create material they find satisfactory. How frustrating! Where’s the muse when you need her --- and can actually hear her? Alas, the muse is elusive today; inspiration is in short supply. Lorena decides enough is enough…may as well eat with Sebastian and blow bubbles with the kids.
Meanwhile, Jonathan thinks he’s “getting there, inch by inch.” But he walks away from his last run-through feeling frustrated with his lack of concentration and the way his body feels.
And yet: Despite a difficult, painstaking process, Jonathan manages to create 1 minute + 45 seconds of material he actually loves…and Lorena predicts she will be especially productive working on her solo at home later tonight.
Perhaps the muse was whispering after all.
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