Thursday, 28 March 2013

Last week, I had an amazing experience working with Kyle Abraham during our first week of residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. We spent more than 3 hours together every day building material for what I would say is, after 6 days now, the bulk our piece.

I wasn't sure what to expect on our first day, since I barely knew Kyle. I didn't know what music Kyle would choose, and I had very little understanding of his unique movement vocabulary or choreographic style. I felt very slow to pick up the material, and I have to say I left the first rehearsal feeling extremely frustrated and nervous that I would never be able to "get" this piece together in my body or mind.

I usually film the material we make each day and resign myself to doing homework, studying the videos, each evening after rehearsal. I would find myself awake at 4am processing sequences of steps in my head.  So far, I have done this for each of the four choreographers I am working with, and it has really helped me to keep up with them and not waste valuable studio time.

Unlike the other choreographers,  Kyle brought in two of his own dancers (Chalvar Monteiro and Rena Butler) to assist him so he could step back and see the work he was creating.  He and his dancers are absolutely breathtaking to watch. ( I think the first couple of days I was probably SO transfixed and in awe watching them, that I couldn't pick up the steps.)

But by day four, Kyle and I were doing run-thrus on our own, which started to build my confidence. Kyle, Rena and Chalvar fed me lots of descriptive imagery in order to explain the movement and soon their imagery began to navigate it's way into my own body, I could feel myself growing into the work, and things started to make sense for me. The piece began to develop beyond Kyle and I, stirring up it's own dramatic intensity and identity by way of the music and steps the more we danced together.  This is the kind of chemistry that will define a work and a partnership.... and with luck it will surface at some point during the creative process.

It's something I always hope for,  but never expect. It's my favorite part of developing a new work, and it's the the whole reason why I have taken on this project, for the simple hope of experiencing this glimmer of profound human connection through creativity.

The unexpected gift of a finding piece designing itself, on the deepest of levels ...  all on its own.

- Ww

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