November 8, 2017
Leading into today’s rehearsal
During their weekly Tuesday meeting, Jonathan and Sherri started to prepare the marketing materials to be used for the upcoming showing in March. They also discussed the idea of having up to 3 guest artists join Second Story for the event, dancing pieces choreographed by Jonathan and Lorena.
Prior to Mandy’s arrival, Lorena and Jonathan begin their warm up by stretching at the barre. Before long, Sebastian grabs mom’s hand to join him in raiding Steffi Nossen’s toy stash. The newly acquired cars and trucks capture Sebastian’s attention for a few minutes, allowing Lorena to return to stretching.
Mandy changes quickly after she arrives and joins her colleagues for a warm up with -- drum roll please – all 3 dancers! It’s been a while since they have been able to warm up together.
As soon as Lorena begins the portion of the warm up on the floor, Sebastian recognizes his opportunity – and takes a running leap to land on her back. Unwilling to give her up just yet, Sebastian drags Lorena to one side of the room, ostensibly to eat. But he rejects all the food Lorena has brought to the studio, becoming fussy and irritable. Although he finally settles on eating pasta, Lorena acknowledges that what Sebastian really wants is mom’s attention. She notes that the last couple of days have been difficult for Sebastian, so he doesn’t want to separate from her for any length of time.
Once again, Lorena finds a way to integrate caring for her son with working – or, in this case, stretching. She figures out how to feed pasta to Sebastian and do floor stretches – simultaneously!
Meanwhile, Jonathan and Mandy move into a warm up segment that each one alternately leads. Once Sebastian seems more engaged in independent play, Lorena is able to join them. They all decide to do a quick across-the-floor segment, led by Jonathan. It is wonderful to see their big smiles since it feels so good -- and is so much fun – to move this way!
Alas, there is only 20 minutes left before Jonathan has to leave, so the dancers agree to begin rehearsal with a run-through of Jonathan’s piece. To prevent Sebastian from interrupting Lorena and Mandy during this period, Jonathan becomes the consummate entertainer for Sebastian, eliciting squeals of delight. Each time Sebastian runs toward his mother, Jonathan finds a way to entice him back to their play. Other than a couple of spots in which they are uncertain of the exact movements, Lorena and Mandy enjoy a successful run-through. Before moving on, they clarify the elements that are still unclear.
Lorena and Mandy begin to teach their parts to each other for the segment in which they switch roles. First, Mandy teaches Lorena an early gesture phrase. Next, Lorena shows Mandy her choreography while Jonathan stands nearby, offering additional coaching details. He notes the phrases that still need some clarification. It is rather challenging for each dancer to learn her partner’s part, danced to the same music she has already come to associate with her own role.
Jonathan notes that the changing of roles enables him to impart an “a-b-a’ ” structure to his dance; the ending mirrors the beginning, but includes some variation. He explains that this approach gives the piece a “retrograde feel.”
Mandy and Lorena continue teaching one another their respective roles, even after Jonathan leaves to pick up his kids at preschool. Fortunately, Sebastian is now mesmerized by a video, so the ladies can work with little interruption. Next week they hope to complete the remaining segment in which they change roles.
Mandy and Lorena move on to Lorena’s piece, marking it through from the beginning of the duet. Lorena offers a variety of notes: clarification of one change of position…intention to make the repeating section of alternating positions less “bumpy”…clarification of the timing of the tricky phrase following this repeating section…altering the timing at the end of the duet.
Lorena and Mandy experiment with the final phrase as Lorena would like to simplify the choreography. Once they are reasonably satisfied with their choices, the ladies run through the duet again, incorporating the changes and modifications they just rehearsed.
Mandy then walks through the solo that follows the duet in Lorena’s piece. Although she has not practiced this segment in a long time, the choreography comes back to her easily. She is only unclear about the steps constituting the final phrase of the solo. The ladies will check a video next week to clarify those movements. Lorena advises Mandy to execute the solo so it has a “light, fresh, soft, and easy” feeling. In fact, Lorena believes that Mandy does not need to dance it with much more effort than she just exerted.
It is now time to work on Mandy’s piece as she would like to include it in our upcoming showing. First, she and Lorena clarify the steps and timing of the existing choreography. Since she has not yet selected music to accompany her piece, Mandy puts on music from her iPhone so they don’t have to dance in silence. After stepping back to observe Lorena dance the piece, Mandy offers notes about how she would like Lorena to approach her work: think more linear…make shapes in space… go for bigger, wider movements and deeper pliés.
Sherri notes that Mandy seems pleased that she has the opportunity to create a dance that reflects her idiosyncratic style. Mandy makes a distinction between her style and that of Jonathan and Lorena: she feels that her approach is less about emotional expression and telling stories, and more about making shapes in space and playing with movement. Conceived as separate from the music, her choreography tends to be more linear and abstract. In fact, Lorena and Mandy come up with labels that seem to capture what is central to each dancer’s choreographic approach: Mandy=Motion; Jonathan=Emotion; Lorena=Music.
Since Mandy is not yet clear whether her piece will be a solo or duet and has not yet decided upon an approach to music, she and Lorena brainstorm about possible choices. Perhaps she’ll decide to use atonal, avant-garde music…or solo cello or sax. Lorena points out that choosing to create a duet means that you are constructing space as well as shape within that space -- and figuring out floor patterns. Mandy is inclined to have 2 dancers performing different choreography in different areas of the stage, at times coming in and out of a shared space.
No matter what decisions Mandy ultimately makes, she is enthusiastically assuming the new role of choreographer!
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