Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Four Stories, A Driving Force - A Work in Progress

Karolyn Owens, Aliyah Beckles and Ulana Romanish of Simcoe Contemporary Dancers in Sarah Kennedy's work in progress / Photo by Kennedy
Attending an Arts school for the past four years has given me ample opportunity to perform and create choreography with my peers. However, working with a professional company like SCD, and choreographing on company members, is a whole new experience.

Normally, when I get an assignment at school I have a theme or song ready to use and I’m choreographing within minutes. This project was not like that at all. I came into it having no idea what I wanted to do.

It took me several weeks to discover my idea and I realized that it was there the whole time.

I was given a task to start the choreographic process. I was asked to observe people in a public space and find something I was drawn to. While I was observing, I began thinking about the stories and life experiences people carry around with them day to day. I realized that everyone has so many stories within them, affecting them and sometimes a driving force brings them together. This idea was very interesting to me and I wanted to explore what that driving force might look like in choreography.

With the help of the dancers we were able to achieve my vision. We began with four stories - four life experiences. Each experience gives the dancer a unique quality. The stories we worked with are about bullying, mental health issues, loss, and a person whose achieves more power through the manipulation of others.

These four stories are drawn together by a force.

In rehearsal, with these stories, we started off with a simple improvisation to help discover the movement. We then pieced together the choreography from the improvisation material. The dancers were able to put their own ideas into the choreography and help me out if I was stuck. I like how our teamwork helped the piece develop.

Then, I had the pleasure of watching my work in progress be performed as part of our annual Winterfest performance. This was my first-time presenting work at a public event and I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous. However, as the dancers performed, I suddenly felt calm and happy that it all came together. It truly is the most amazing feeling to watch the idea you nurtured become a dance and then to watch it be performed so beautifully – To know you helped create it.

I am still working on the piece, molding and sculpting it. The force that draws these stories together, I am unsure of right now but I will continue to explore that concept as well. I’m not sure where it will all go but I’m excited to continue discovering. I know what we create will be worth the wait.

This project has given me the opportunity to explore my own creativity without restrictions. I have seen myself grow as dancer/choreographer in a short number of weeks and I think that is the most amazing thing about this whole project.

- Sarah Kennedy

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