January 24, 2018
LAST PIECE FALLS INTO PLACE
Talk about fluid contexts today: Lorena has child care, then she doesn’t. Lorena will be on time… no, now she will be late. Jonathan requests that the majority of rehearsal time be dedicated to finishing his piece since he has child care today and can stay for the entire rehearsal – but Lorena was also hoping for a significant chunk of time to work on her dance. But now that she is delayed, Lorena figures that Jonathan might as well take the bulk of the rehearsal time for his work. Just change the details and you have another set of typical contextual challenges for the Second Story dancers.
In fact, Lorena confides that there is so much on her plate right now, she must concentrate on bringing herself into the present moment so she can redirect her energies to rehearsing.
Mandy and Jonathan warm up together, while Lorena stretches on her own.
Sebastian is playing independently, absorbed with his new gift of “Cars 3” cars from Jonathan. He gleefully rolls these cars across every surface in the studio. Sherri re-directs him away from crashing the cars against the mirror and toward the scratchy surface of the “music cart.” The sounds produced by his cars moving over this different surface keep him occupied for a few minutes -- until he decides to use mom’s legs as highways. He then insists that Lorena accompany him to the lounge area before she begins working.
Upon Lorena’s return to the studio space, Jonathan outlines his plan for working on his piece today: review the spacing work and choreographic changes from last week. He reminds Lorena and Mandy to keep their movements in and around the center of the stage. He wants to tweak a phrase in which the dancers move around one another while physically connected. Jonathan also intends to “fill in the hole” – create new material for Lorena—near the end of the piece.
As Lorena and Mandy slowly walk through the dance, Jonathan verbally reminds them of last week’s changes and suggests refinements of various qualitative details. Lorena and Mandy communicate with each other about spacing as they mark through the piece, noting when they have drifted too far away from the center. Jonathan wants them to think of Mandy as the “center anchor” to keep the duo in the vicinity of center stage.
Jonathan then puts on the music as Lorena and Mandy try to incorporate all of his notes.
Meanwhile, Sebastian rolls his stroller around the studio and out into the hall. Jonathan does double duty, watching both Sebastian and the dancers while standing in the doorway. Sebastian then brings his stroller back in the studio, spinning it around and around right next to the dancers.
Sherri entices Sebastian by offering her arms and head for him to roll his cars over. They also draw and read a book together. These distractions work for a while, but hanging out with mom trumps all other activities. Fortunately, Sebastian’s subsequent interruption of mom’s dancing is short-lived; redirection to his snack changes his focus.
Mandy and Lorena now run through Jonathan’s piece with music as he observes, noting several timing adjustments. The dancers run it once again, this time trying to identify and self-correct their timing and spatial errors.
After a stint at the barre imitating the dancers, Sebastian returns to the hallway. Jonathan resumes his post in the doorway to simultaneously keep an eye on Sebastian and call out timing adjustments to the ladies. He also talks them through the final poses of the dance.
Mandy and Lorena identify the phrases that still need clarification and note the significant amount of stamina required to execute Jonathan’s duet.
Next, Jonathan develops the missing choreography for Lorena’s character near the end of the piece. This material features the torso leading the turns and torqueing of the body. After reviewing the new movements several times, Lorena feels more confident in her execution of Jonathan’s choreography and wants to try it one final time. Alas, this is the exact moment when Sebastian’s finger gets stuck in the stroller, necessitating Lorena’s tender loving care.
As Lorena soothes Sebastian. Jonathan works with Mandy to clarify certain partnering gestures and sequences. He encourages her to use/lead with her back muscles to initiate and facilitate the moves; Jonathan wants to “see the work” in Mandy’s back. He then adjusts the directions of Lorena’s movements relative to Mandy.
The dancers shift their concentration to the floor segment, experimenting with and trying to agree on the exact timing of the movements. Jonathan wants to see more rapid rolls to ensure that the choreography feels exciting. Of course, executing these movements at a rapid tempo is challenging!
The dancers conclude work on Jonathan’s piece with a review of the timing and spacing of the final phrases of the duet. And that’s a wrap – Jonathan’s choreography is complete!
Next up: Lorena’s piece. She wants to practice the first two sections, then work on developing the final section. She asks Jonathan to observe and offer his perspectives.
Soon after beginning the first duet, Lorena realizes that the spacing is off, so it’s “take 2” – let’s start again from the top. Lorena acknowledges the need to clean up the timing throughout this portion of the dance. Jonathan offers a few suggestions: maintain the crisscross motif throughout the section…Lorena should touch Mandy at a particular moment to maintain the sense of contact between them…consider making more of a progression in a specific phrase.
After Mandy runs through her solo from Lorena’s dance, Lorena creates and refines material for the final section of the piece. The choreography is very fast, timed to the beat of the music. Movements are sharp and precise. The dancers try to figure out spacing relative to one another, experimenting until it feels right.
While the ladies work on this final section, Jonathan revisits his solo. He seems to be testing it out – remembering the choreography, re-thinking certain movements, getting his body and mind reacquainted with this work.
As is typical of most rehearsals, Lorena must continually shift her attention back and forth between her work and attending to Sebastian’s needs. While Lorena makes these transitions appear to be seamless, we can only imagine how frustrating and challenging it must be to inhabit these two roles simultaneously.
It’s finally Mandy’s turn! She has been working on new choreography for her piece and is eager to teach it to Lorena. She also asks Jonathan to watch the solo and share his ideas. By this point in the rehearsal, Lorena has been working hard; she must push herself to maintain her energy to execute Mandy’s physically demanding material.
Jonathan suggests that Mandy clarify what each movement is about and determine what body parts she wants to initiate each move. Jonathan encourages Mandy to consider where the dance is going…what type of structure it will have. Will it be episodic? Will it build to a climax? Jonathan proposes that Mandy “play with delineating the space” – determine what movements/tempo/motifs will appear in different spaces on stage. He also recommends deciding where Lorena’s character will focus in each phrase of the dance.
Mandy is truly in the midst of her process and does not yet have definitive answers. She does know, though, that the piece will not have a musical arc.
The dancers conclude rehearsal feeling physically tired but excited about finishing Jonathan’s duet and invigorated by today’s productive session!
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