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Oct
13

BDL – DAY 11

Today was Men’s day.  I decided to re-conceive a piece I had worked on years ago and give it to the men.  I decided this yesterday.  And the idea for it came to me yesterday, too.  One of the most difficult exercises is re-inventing your own work.  But it can be a great reminder that there are always many, many possibilities and potential outcomes.  There is no right or wrong way to interpret music and it can be a great challenge to reinterpret a theme in a whole new way.  It’s a funny piece.  Or at least I hope it’s funny.   At any rate, It’s been so incredible to just be able to follow my impulses.  To create with abandon.  Would I love the number to work like a charm?  Sure!  Would I love every number I do to work like a charm?  Absolutely!  But it’s so liberating to know that they don’t really have to.  That weather they “work” or not has little to do with my experience creating them.  And because of that, I find myself wanted to create even more… and take more risks.  That’s what the Lab is all about and today, I was so grateful for it.


Oct
13

BDL – DAY 10

Day 10 was a day to review everything we had worked on up to this point.  I had started a few pieces that I wanted to finish and it was good to clean a few things.  I can’t believe we’re already at the half-way mark.  It has been an incredible two weeks.  I turned around and all of a sudden I had 9 separate ideas that I had been able to  explore.  It’s been incredible.  Michael and Stephen came to watch today.  It was great to have them there and get their feedback.  It’s also fun when my cousin (not a dancer) asks me things like, “How do you REMEMBER all of this?”   I take it for granted that I just do.  Well… ok… I remember MOST of it.  The dancers are very good at gently reminding me of the rest.   The real work now is readying the Lab for the presentation on the 26th. The 26th feels like it’s tomorrow.  But wo weeks is actually quite a bit of time and I plan on doing everything I can to prepare the dancers and create a wonderful showing for my friends in the industry.  It was nice to reflect today on all that we’ve accomplished and all that I have learned in a mere 10 rehearsals.


Oct
12

BDL- DAY 9

Day 9 was Women’s Day.   I decided to just work with my women on two numbers that I wanted to try.  One is quite “camp”… the other is quite dark.  I’m beginning to realize that I’m kind of a feminist when it comes to dance.  I find that women are all too often objectified in the dance world.  And I get it… sex sells.   But what about the funny women?  The athletic women?  The introverted women?  The complicated women?  In theater, every project dictates the types of people that are hired. But in the lab, I can explore all types of characters at the same time.  In the Lab, I can practice the camp material, the dark material, and even the sexy material…all in one three hour rehearsal.  In the Lab, I can ask my women to be all the things they are.  Where else can I do that?

 


Oct
12

BDL- DAY 8

We moved to yet another complex of dance studios on Day 8.  (We also moved Day 7)  And at the new complex, we moved studios half way through our rehearsal.  We went from a nice sized space to a much smaller one.  I wasn’t too terribly put off by this because it didn’t happen to interfere with what I was working on.  But it absolutely could have been paralyzing.  It reminded me why the ultimate goal of The Broadway Dance Lab is to have it’s own space – a space that approximates a Broadway stage.   The Paul Taylor Studios are built to be the exact dimensions of City Center.  This is an extremely useful model for me.  One of the reasons I was adamant about hiring 10 dancers is because Broadway most often deals in large scale visuals.  When was the last time you went to a Broadway show and saw only 2 dancers in the ensemble?  Can it happen?  Sure.  Does it happen very often?  No.  So we finished a dance I started last week and I began a new one.  I’m not sure I’ll continue with this new one.  But I will most likely present the idea at my showing.  The reason I may not continue with it is because it will be comprised of a series of rather complex traffic patterns and this type of product can take hours and hours to achieve.  I need to decide if figuring out this matrix is on my list of priorities.  However, it reminded  me yet again why the lab is so necessary.  In a time-sensitive rehearsal process, most choreographers really need to just do what works quickly.  Spending hours on a complicated pattern could result in something brilliant… but who takes the risk that it won’t?   This is why I’d present the idea.  To give people a visual example of this very conundrum.

 


Oct
10

BDL – Day 7

Day 7 was filled with laughter as I began to work on a new piece that is one of the silliest ideas I’ve had in a long time.  Well, it made me laugh anyway.  But it was also day for me to reflect on the elements of gesture in dance.  While shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” have brought a wonderful attention to elastic, athletic, passionate young dancers and highly skilled choreographers, it still remains a competition. By that, I mean that there is very little room for expressions of the body that don’t immediately “impress” – or “amaze”.  And I love a daring display of gymnastics and partnering as much as the next guy.  But what about the multitude of highly effective statements that can be made with the body that have nothing to do with blatant displays of physical prowess?  Do audiences value this much anymore?   And where does humor fit in to the current equation?  Once again,, it was glorious to be in an environment where I didn’t feel the need for shock and awe.  Where we could all just be regular humans for the day.   Ok…maybe not so regular.


Oct
08

BDL- DAY 6

Today I went to rehearsal feeling a bit sluggish.  And I stayed feeling sluggish throughout the day.  That being said, I had about 6 items on my “to tackle” list and, instead of working on any of them, I began creating 2 completely different pieces.  The lab truly allows me to be where I am and work from that place.  And because I can do that I am much more able to follow my artistic impulses.  This is something I am rarely, if ever, afforded in the workplace.  I reminded myself yesterday that when I present this material I will begin by reminding people that they are not there to adjudicate my product.  While I certainly hope they like what I have explored, they are there to experience the types of results that this kind of uninhibited exploration can offer.



Oct
06

BDL – DAY 5

I looked around at the end of Day 5 and realized that, in my first week, I had begun 4 completely different dances.   In 20 hours of work, I had already been able to explore multiple choreographic techniques and themes.  And having talented dancers of my own choosing, in a space conducive to large, group movement, over a period of 20 hours, with absolutely no imposed boudaries has truly afforded me the ability to practice my craft in a way I never have before.  The lab makes me feel like I’m like a kid at an empty amusement park…able to ride any ride whenever I feel like it… as many times as I feel like it.  And in this amusement park, I can even stop the ride have way down a giant hill!   I’m finding that, at the beginning of the week it was difficult for me to even accept the fact that I had this type of freedom.   It felt awkward not having an “agenda” imposed upon me by an outside force.  But now I’m beginning to realize that this is what “creative writing” is all about.  And this lab is daily proof to me why choreographers need that freedom just as much as any other writer.  Unfortunately for choreographers, that freedom is simply much more difficult to come by.  I feel truly blessed to have had the support I have had up to this point.  I couldn’t be where I am without it.

 


Oct
04

BDL – DAY 4

I really only worked on one number today for our 4 hours in the studio.  And I’m far from finished with it.  Every hour that goes by makes me wish I had another hour to work.  But it helps to remember that I’m not here for a specific “product”.  I’m here to observe and learn from the process.  And I’m finding that my own choreographic process is evolving daily.   I’m loving every second of it.


Oct
04

BDL- SOME PHOTOS

I have a newfound respect for dance photographers.  It’s crazy hard to get decent shots of people whizzing around a dance studio at top speed.  These are the best I could come up with from the past couple days.