October 11, 2017
TAKE IT FROM THE TOP!
As expected, Jonathan and Lorena are the first to arrive and begin warming up individually.
Shortly after Lorena starts stretching, Sebastian tugs at her hand; he clearly wants mom to join him while choosing toys, getting food, and sitting down to eat. It is difficult for Lorena to break away to continue warming up.
Mandy arrives later with Nate, who does not have preschool today. Nate comes with a number of cool toys, but he’s primarily engaged in imaginative play with string (something about Spiderman…).
Gradually, Sebastian becomes absorbed with watching a man vacuum the hallway and playing with electronic toys.
With both boys temporarily occupied, the dancers can finally warm up at the same time. Mandy is still adjusting her movements to avoid hurting her ankle further. In particular, she has difficulty torqueing her injured foot.
Before long, Mandy goes in search of a pair of scissors to cut a knot out of Nate’s string. After Sebastian throws toys around the room, Lorena scoops him up and dances with him for the balance of the warm up. Nate joins the dancers at the barre, climbing on top of them (again, something about Spiderman…).
With just a half hour to go before Jonathan has to leave to pick up his kids, the dancers refine several phrases in Jonathan’s piece. Jonathan demonstrates for Lorena the choreography for her part in one of the early partnering phrases. He wants Mandy and Lorena to remain connected, but to do so using more visually interesting movements. Jonathan highlights a number of qualitative details: Mandy needs to create a bigger backbend over Lorena’s shoulder…Lorena should use her right hip to power the next partnering move…hands are precisely positioned on each other’s body…Lorena’s closing her arms around Mandy should initiate Mandy’s turn within Lorena’s embrace.
Jonathan takes Lorena’s place for a few moments to determine the optimal hand and arm placement during Lorena and Mandy’s next partnering sequence. Lorena then switches with him and practices with Mandy.
Moving on to Mandy’s next solo section, Jonathan clarifies the sequence of gestures and steps.
At this point, the dancers are eager to “take it from the top!” We really see Jonathan’s piece coalescing as Mandy and Lorena progress through the opening sections. As the dancers approach their last segment, Sebastian begs mom to hold him. As a result, Lorena completes her part as best as she can with her son in her arms.
To clarify a complex segment in which Mandy and Lorena are completely entwined, the dancers watch the latest video of this section. After Mandy and Lorena practice what they have just seen, Jonathan once again takes Lorena’s place to help him refine the timing and sequence of the individual and joint movements.
Before you know it, Jonathan has to leave. Everyone else takes a quick snack break.
Lorena informs Mandy that she needs to repeatedly listen to the music for her piece in order to figure out the logistics of each part for last week’s challenging phrase. Once she thinks she has the basic structure in her head, Lorena tests it out with Mandy. At first, Lorena tries to “verbally choreograph” the phrase since Sebastian insists that she stay by his side. Eventually, though, Sebastian divides his time between watching a video, hanging off of the ballet barres, and jumping on a mini-trampoline. These activities allow Lorena to stop describing the choreography and actually demonstrate the steps and timing for both parts. The two dancers practice their respective roles together. They do 4 repetitions of a sequence of moves that includes side leg lifts, ronds de jambe with deep pliés, and kneeling down on one knee. One dancer starts the sequence, then the other dancer follows; it appears as if they are dancing in counterpoint. Satisfied that they have successfully created the basic sequence of steps, Lorena explains that she will “stylize” the choreography next week.
Moving on to the next phrase of the dance, Lorena makes some changes to each dancer’s part, experimenting with Mandy to determine which ideas work best.
Refreshing their memories, Lorena and Mandy review the choreographic details of the segment that follows this phrase.
Finally, the dancers are ready to “take it from the top” again! They mark through nearly the entire first section of Lorena’s piece. Only a couple of phrases to go before the section is complete!
“Taking it from the top” enabled the dancers to see how far they have come – and how close they are to finishing the choreography for both pieces. We’re at an exciting place in the creative process!
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