Rehearsals for the informal dance concert have been in progress for about a month now. Both of the pieces I am in are well underway with about three minutes of choreography accomplished. Rehearsals for this show have been unlike any performance I was a part of in high school because there seems to be a strong emphasis placed on improvisation and collaboration between the choreographer and dancers. I came from a very structured school where the emphasis was on technique and any dancing I did on stage was specifically taught to me by the choreographer. At first the idea of having to come up with my own movement on the spot and the freedom to interpret the movement how I wanted to was quite intimidating.
One of my choreographers, MJ Hodge, really wants to incorporate each dancer’s unique style and movement tendencies into her piece. In the beginning this terrified me because it requires much more movement creation on my part, which I am not used to. MJ has made this process less frightening and difficult by providing prompts for the dancers. These prompts vary from spelling a word to conveying an emotion to journaling our thoughts and then creating movement from the writing. Having the dancers create movement is only the first step; the more fun part is putting the many phrases together. Placing two movement phrases created totally separate from one another side by side can often create juxtaposition, or as I prefer to call it “Happy Accidents.” I really think it is exciting to see how different entities, whether they are music or movement, magically match up or complement each other. Pictured below is MJ working with one of the dancers to modify the dancer’s self-choreographed solo so that it can better mesh with her vision for the piece.
So while MJ’s rehearsals have been a lot of creation of movement, my other choreographer, Cat Chythlook, has been focusing on the intention for each section. Some movement has been created by the dancers, an example being the boys’ duet, but for the most part Cat has been very specific with what she wants us to do. This presents another challenge because even though the movement may not itself be difficult, presenting it with the right facial expression and intensity is. To help bring out the specificity of emotion she wants, Cat has spent time discussing personal stories and thoughts with the cast. Both choreographers want us (the dancers) to bring an element of ourselves into the piece but have different approaches to draw this individuality out of us.