Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Process: Fall Creation Period (Post 5 - Jessica Ransom)

This process has been quite different for me. Really, it's been not at all like other works I've choreographed. Usually, I choreograph in a very linear way. I start at the first second of the song and work through until the end. Also, I usually pick the music first before I've made up any steps. I've tried not picking the music first, but then I tended to make up some sort of rhythm in my head that never went well to anything. I concluded that I could never do it that way unless I somehow managed to compose my own song, which would never happen - but maybe someone else could?

But this time, I didn't use music. Eventually, we danced it to a variety of  songs, though it's still odd how it's a little up in the air. But I actually prefer it this way - that way the whole piece is really based more on the dance and the steps. The music is there to support it, and meld with it, but not to control it.

Any time I've choreographed, I always planned everything out. I see exactly what I want it to be and I set it to be that. But this time, I tried to stay away from that and also let some of the movements come from the dancers. That was very different for me, but after being a little too lax with planning, I realized that doing something different for the sake of doing it different wasn't good enough reason. So I did find a good balance between making concrete decisions about the piece and leaving it open to the dancers to play with the movement and see where it takes them.

I also have to say that it was very interesting working with Nancy Pottage. In about the second rehearsal, she started to ask questions that I didn't know the answers to yet. I don't believe I've ever worked with a dancer who was an actor as well. She asked questions about the character that I hadn't really thought about yet and it really pushed me to go into that realm of the piece. Otherwise, that part might have just floated over top of the steps. But thanks to the dancers and what they brought to the characters in the piece, they made it a lot easier to lace the characterization throughout the piece in each rehearsal.

I feel like there can always be more done to this piece. I think this is because we didn't choreograph it in that habitual linear way. We would put movements in the middle and extend the phrase that way, which was possible because the movements weren't married to certain parts of the music. I think this is because of the way I write as well. I've always thought that there were two types of writers in the world. Those who planned it all out and then wrote it, and those who kept it open and discovered the story as they went. I definitely write the latter way. And when choreographing a story, it really is like writing, but through dance steps instead of with words. I'm glad that this process allowed me to dive deeper into how I write stories instead of making me plan it all out in advance and marry it to a certain song.

It really has been a great experience and has taught me so many different techniques for choreographing, ways to involve the dancers more in the process of the choreography and ways to keep things more open to interpretation and room for change at a later date. I've realized that it doesn't have to be set in stone, but that doesn't mean that it has to just change for the sake of change. What it always was meant to be will be discovered, but it might take a few tries to discover what the movement and story really should be.

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