As we take a retrospective look at the development of the Second Story project so far, we gain tremendous insight into process and the unique contexts within which this evolution has occurred
Jonathan began with a seed of an idea, inspired by his nascent collaboration with dancer Maggie Bradley. Like Maggie, Jonathan and two other professional dance colleagues found themselves in similar circumstances – functioning as primary caregivers with almost no free time to address their creative needs. Essentially, the dancers discovered they had similar ideas: let’s get together and try to figure out how to remain connected to our creative selves while nurturing our new families. Giving themselves permission to discard their preconceived ideas about artistic collaboration and creation – notions honed from years of professional training and performing, they took a great leap of faith to reimagine functioning in a new, unfamiliar context. They agreed to improvise in the moment to deal with the challenge of simultaneously attending to child care needs and finding a way to connect, exchange ideas and experiences, and engage their artistic selves.
We can see the process emerge in the early details of their time together. Slowly but surely, the amorphous arrangement begins to assume some shape. Based on their actual collective experience, the dancers figure out how to realistically conduct warm-ups given frequent disruptions from their children and bodies removed from the rigors of professional training. Spontaneous ideas and approaches are welcomed. A comfortable give-and-take dynamic emerges. Despite the inculcated directives stipulating that one must come to rehearsal fully prepared with plans that play out within a clear structure, the group members access their authentic impulses in the moment.
Ideas for movement phrases gradually morph into sequences. The dancers instinctively dive into discussions about and experiments with the qualitative details of emotional expression and gestural nuance. Themes permeating their new lives demand to be explored in their work. The need to make meaning of this chapter of their lives – and the powerful emotions constantly evoked – drive the formation of individual and collective artistic visions.
As we draw the lens back to understand the bigger picture, wisps of contours start to assume more definitive outlines. The excitement of creation, new discoveries, and a growing camaraderie inevitably lead to explorations of group identity and purpose. Trust deepens, creating an environment that feels safe enough to take risks. Every session brings greater clarity to fundamental questions: Who are we? What do we want to do? What do we want it to look like? Group members find themselves imagining a future with expanding reach and possibilities: cohesive series of performances with a clear narrative arc, company classes, community collaborations…a literal and metaphoric home for seasoned dance professionals with families.
Let’s see how it all unfolds.
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