Monday, February 9, 2015

Ingredients for the Metaphorical Soup - or the choreographic process

"So, what is this dance about? The one I'm going to see?"

This question is often asked of dancers and choreographers.

Often dance, an abstract art, is about many things and the audience is invited to have his/her own experience with the work.

Well, I answered, there are a lot of things that are inspiring the work. I see myself as bringing all of these seemingly different ideas and elements together and combining them in time and space. I make a giant circle with my arms. Kind of like I'm making soup.

"Okay... so what are the ingredients?"

I've been really interested in horseshoe crabs. I've been talking with some scientists and researchers and doing my own research on the little critters. They're really fascinating.

Horseshoe crab research goes into the soup.

The horseshoe crab story contains many metaphors for the human experience. For example, they have a very active interior covered by a calm, quiet exterior. (How many times have we needed to portray a calm exterior when the very opposite is happening interior, emotionally?)

They're not often noticed but play a very important role in the ecosystem. (How often have we felt like we are not noticed, despite how hard we're working?)

They molt and shed their barnacles (and all of the baggage that they've gathered) when they outgrown their current shell. (How often have we had to let go in order to grow?)

Molting takes a long time. (Growing, letting go, shedding. As with horseshoe crabs, as with our lives).

Horseshoe crabs are very vulnerable after molting, but in time, develop their original sturdiness.

There's more... But, I think you get the point.
Horseshoe crab metaphors go into the pot. 

Thinking about the soft body that emerges after the molting process reminds me of Mary Oliver's poem, Wild Geese.

Wild Geese goes into the pot. Mary Oliver reads her poem and provides some reflection

I'm also interested in the female experience. And I think that part of that experience is the strength and resilience to keep going, despite time and struggle. It's another metaphor from the horseshoe crabs because they have existed, almost unchanged, for millions of years, despite global changes.

Resilience goes into the pot. 

Dance and movement is my medium.

Dance and movement go into the pot.

In using dance, I'm engage contemporary choreographic structures and listen to my own intuitive creative voice.

Choreographic structures go into the pot. 
My creative voice goes into the pot. 

I'm working with five women who bring their experiences to the work and I invite them to share these experiences in the rehearsal process.

My dancers go into the pot. 

I'm playing with Bach's Cello Suite. It's timeless. And it wasn't originally intended to be a famous work of art.

Bach's Cello Suites and research on them go into the pot. 

I bring all of these things together and see what emerges.

"So, over time, things start boiling and rolling. And if I ladle out a bowl at any point in time, it could be a little different because of the boiling and rolling."

Yes! And that's one of the reasons I think performance practice is so important. The practice of performing is like taking the ladle and getting out a bowl. Does it need more salt? A choreographic shift? I can return to the process after the performance with more information. For the next performance, the piece will be a little more developed. A little more "cooked".

So, it's not about one thing, but an integration of many things. The audience member also brings their own elements to the table so, while I cannot control those, I still accept and honor them because together we're all engaging in the creative experience.

It's not linear, but neither is making soup.

Have you created something? What are your ingredients?  

No comments:

Post a Comment