Monday, December 22, 2014

A Post about Process, Or: Why We Painted our Faces

There are some pieces that you'd like to make. You get a fun idea; a quirky movement pops into your head; you're inspired by a new song. With time and oh, I guess some effort, you end up building a pretty great dance around it.

And then there are some pieces that you HAVE to make. Ideas you need to get out of you. Thoughts, concepts and dare I say, emotions that are so stuck, so stagnant, that you actually, viscerally need to expunge them from your body, before they suffocate you.

And in this case, the word "expunge" is an SAT-level euphemism for DANCE.

That's where "Severely, Sincerely" came from.


As I mentioned in a previous post, I pride myself on people-pleaser pieces. I like to make pieces that I, as an audience member, would like to watch. (Pardon my slight narcissism in boldly assuming that I have ever succeeded in ever pleasing any portion of an audience.) I like to make silly pieces that are fun to dance in, and otherwise upbeat.

"Severely, Sincerely" started as a stream of consciousness. I, as girls tend to do, was mentally ruminating on some old situations, old conversations, long since cold, that despite having no bearing on my current day-to-day, remain in my past unresolved and untethered.

Oh, you couldn't guess? They're about a goddamn boy.

I heard a old song, that reminded me of one night, far removed from my memory in such a way that I know it happened, but I only remember enough to make the details work in my favor. Overcome with a flashback, a mental picture of a night sky, I quickly opened a word document to get the feelings that I had stuffed down so long ago, out out out of me for the very first, and very last time.

Was this really the song we heard that night? Maybe, maybe not. But at least we'll have a soundtrack!

It was a good first step. I felt lighter, but I wasn't done. This document would sit in my computer for months, untouched, as I racked my brains for the next step of the process.

Knowing full well that I was headed in the direction of dance, I finally asked Meghan and our dear Molly to think upon a time that someone had let them down or had otherwise hurt their feelings. It didn't have to be deep, it didn't have to be superficial, it just had to be a time that someone made them feel kinda crappy.

A few days later, we shared our experiences very matter-of-factly. We didn't embellish our emotions but talked, removed from our respective situations, on the black and whites of what had happened. From our three distinct stories, came some trends of not only sentiment, but also of logistics -the actions in each of our tales echoed those of the two others.

From here, I decided upon 5 notions that would fuel and inspire movement. These were;
"making and breaking plans"
"not cool enough" // "being passed over"

Each of these five notions were assigned a movement vocabulary varying in length. "Forgot" included a very literal swiping over the forehead and a turning sequence, while "messages" had us trapped in our own personal inbox.

Then, each of us was given a sequence of the notions; creating a fluid piece of movement that was similar, but not entirely unison.

So then, why did we paint our faces?

First all, because I wanted us to.

But I put on my mature choreographer pants and knew I needed a more valid reason and a logical way to incorporate this action into the piece. Things are about to get literal.

I had wrote down what had happened to me, but putting it down on paper hadn't been enough. I had to use my body to really tell the story.

Are you getting it?

In the piece, we are stumped with our notebooks, trying to write down our experience. It is only when Molly drags the crayon across her skin, that we realize we have been using the wrong medium all along. In the same way that the current versions of ourselves are the product of our past experiences, we are literally wearing our stories on our face as a way of finally getting it out of the recesses of our minds.


Does that make sense? No? Then it was just because I wanted to use face paint. Because it's awesome and great and fun.

And that's the cool thing about dance. It doesn't have to make sense. It was okay to me, as the choreographer, if the audience didn't "get it." I got to tell my story, in my way. And I also got to paint my face.

What moves you? How to you transfer your visions into reality? Tell me all your secrets in the comment section!


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