• Bay Arealist

The Choreographic Process for Embody

I began thinking about choreographing a new trapeze piece in November of 2014.

Then, a lot of stuff happened, as it usually does.

~The audition for which I was choreographing fell through

~I started Physical Therapy

~Christmas

~Workshops

~Another injury

...blah blah excuses

However, I never stopped thinking about this piece. I chose 3 different songs over the course of a month; from Radiohead to Rage against the Machine. I chose different themes and motifs. I chose different apparatuses. It wasn't until TimeHop (that facebook affiliated app that lets you see your statuses from 7 years ago) showed me a link from back in my college years that things started to come together.

That link took me to a portion of Phillip Glass's Einstein on the Beach called

Knee Play 5.

(ignore the kitchy background images)


A Dance professor had played the song for us and it moved me to tears. Even today, after listening to it 67,823 times, I can still feel the emotions I felt that first day in class. This was it. This was the song I had to use.

It wasn't until I actually got into the studio and stopped congratulating myself on picking such a great song that I realized, this was going to be a long journey. There were a lot of obstacles at first.

First, I had to get people to stop ridiculing me for this seemingly absurd song. If you haven't listened to the song yet, let me clue you in; it is very repetative. There's these two women singing 1234, 123456, 12345678 over and over again about 20 times. Granted, there are other things happening in the music throughout this but the most prevalent sound is this strangely metered counting. For some listeners, its enough to send them over the edge. People leave the room while I'm rehearsing. People ask me to turn it off. I had one gentlemen tell me his "fight or flight mechanisms [were] kicking in." That didn't stop me.

However, the repetition got to me over time too. I developed the theme and arm motif for the piece after looking at The Enigma of Desire by Salvador Dali


Enigma of Desire

But after listening to the repetitive song repetitively, I started to create repetitive choreography (big surprise). I started with a short sequence and built upon it each time I repeated it....It was boring. Every time I choreographed and re-choreographed this piece it was still boring. I had to make the movement more interesting. I couldn't get away with being a pretty girl on a spinning object if I was going to try and perform a piece inspired by Dali to Phillip Glass's most celebrated opera.

I created an arm sequece. I tried the arm sequence standing still in front of the trapeze. I tried to do it walking around the trapeze. I tried it hanging from my ankles. I tried it hanging from my ankles while spinning. I tried repeating it. I tried throwing it in at the end.

Boring

I couldn't help but wonder if I was attempting to acheive the impossible. I mean seriously, Phillip Glass is a virtuosic and riveting composer and I'm...a pretty girl on a spinning object. Who do I think I am?

Then I started watching youtube. Other people had choreographed to Knee Play 5. A lot of people! Rhythmic gymnasts, modern dancers, ballerinas, and competition dancers had all taken a crack at it. This was both a positive and a negative expeierence because I saw good choreography which made me think, "it can be done!" and I saw people try and fail to meet the music's power.

This one is interesting, if you feel like venturing down the rabbit hole with me.


(you see what I'm dealing with!)

So that about takes you up to date. I am performing this chef d'oeuvre on September 26th 2015 at the Athletic Playground in Emeryville for their 7 year anniversary party. See previous post for more details.

Come find out what worked and what didn't. In fact, come tell me what worked and what didn't. I have come to terms with the fact this piece will never actually be finished.