Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home Again...

What a wonderful week in North Carolina! It was a very brief, intense and productive five-day rehearsal period. The theater at High Point University is a gem. Julianna drove from South Carolina to do the rigging. Russell, the High Point University TD and lighting designer provided lots of help. Then, once everything was set up, the five days of rehearsals with Cara and Mackenzie, with a different configuration of the harness and silks produced a slightly altered Homing/In. Diane sat in a couple of times, Ron and Rob were there another day, and Trish, B.J., Ayden, Jackson and Ruthie came to watch the last day. Lots of positive feedback and great suggestions from all!

I miss the cocoon section, but - because of the height of the grid - Julianna decided to rig the harness and fabric separately. And, there was no way for Cara to hold the fabric and run in a circle because of the electrics and booms - so, that part of the dance is extended into something slightly more "dance-y."

It is so beautiful to see these two dancers together. Because of the heightened sense of intimacy - they know each other so very well (how could twins not?) - because they "get" the piece and what everything could mean - because they are so focused and so good at what they do.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to revisit Homing/In and to work with Cara and Mackenzie. I am looking forward to hearing what Dmytro wants to do with the music - and to returning to North Carolina for the performances at High Point University in September.

Hopefully, these videos of the last rehearsal with 87 Dance Productions at High Point University will work.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dress rehearsal, Edinburgh - 2008

Here is a link to the video of the dress rehearsal before the Fringe performance:

We will see what this becomes in its next version.
Not sure whether we will do it with/without video...

Monday, May 30, 2011


Will be setting Homing/In on 87 Dance Productions - Cara Hagan and Mackenzie Hagan - in June. Very exciting. Watching the footage, trying to decipher the movement and remember what it was about. Why those choices, why those relationships.

Am looking forward to working with Cara and Mackenzie, wondering what choreographic modifications might be best, what to keep, how their dancing will change the piece.

Will post the footage of the last dress rehearsal, for the performance at the end of the 2008 Dance Base residency in Edinburgh - the piece was performed on the Fringe, along with a work by Steinvor and a solo I made for myself, to thank Morag and everyone at Dance Base for inviting me for such an exceptional time.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Feedback and random thoughts

Lots of feedback over the past month, lots of thoughts... where to begin?...

Some of the audience were frustrated by the paleness of the video images. While I thought the inability to see clearly what was on the screen said a lot about surveillance, there are degrees of murkiness (a lighter shade of pale?) - so, hopefully, we'll have a darkened space in August, which will clarify the projections. Someone commented on the flickering: she couldn't figure out why I was making that happen, what the relationship was between what the dancers were doing and the flickering ... it wasn't me, it was the cameras searching during every minuscule change of orientation ... again, the representation, or metaphor, isn't clear enough to the audience.

How to represent distance: Martine said that would be clearer if the audience were all on one side - that the shift from horizontal to vertical couldn't be equally visible from all angles. Not sure I understand, but it is something to consider. Since I don't feel I've fully explored the possibilities in the round, and since we are keeping the aerial element for the time being, will have to put horizontal exploration and proscenium presentation on hold.

The screen: Stretch the fabric, as I'd originally wanted. Cathrine suggested having it on casters, so we can change its placement, or remove it entirely at some point. Good idea. Will see if this is practicable.

The piece needs to be longer than 15 minutes. Am now working on expanding, by lengthening the solos, repeating the final duet section (with change of orientation and timing), maybe lengthening the walking and the aerial sections. We need stillnesses and silences, to give the audience more time to take everything in. Those moments can be times for scanning, so that the projected images become more present, providing better balance between the elements.

Sheila suggested having Kally and Steinvor start somewhere outside the studio, so that we see their approach into the space on the screen. I feel this has been done enough by others, and am not sure it would add anything significant to Homing/In. Thinking about it, though.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Video of showing of the first configuration of Homing/In, at Dance Base, 20 June 2008

(this is a wide-screen video, but the server doesn't recognize the format - hence the elongated bodies!)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday, 21st June 2008 - after the showing...

... posted on the longest day...

The showing went very well. Beautiful performances from Kally, Steinvor and Dmytro. Everyone so together. The cameras and receivers worked, too - so, I was able to do what I wanted to with the projections. A wonderful, attentive audience - all ages, all professions - invited to walk around the performance, many did. The space was charged with energy! Terrific Q&A, great questions and discussion. Wish it could have gone on longer, but we had to strike everything (including the rigging for the harness - which Jonothan did) to clear the studio for evening classes. A few drinks and snacks after, across the Grassmarket, to end the day and two weeks of very focused, intensive work. We'll come back together in August, briefly, for a few rehearsals and a Heads Up performance just before I fly back to Springfield, MO.

Thanks again to everyone - Kally, Steinvor, Dmytro, Sheila, the entire Dance Base staff, all who came to the showing - and of course to Morag Deyes MBE for inviting me for the summer and offering the residency, and to the Missouri State University Graduate College, who awarded me a Summer Faculty Fellowship for the project.

And now... on to editing the video footage from the showing, from two cameras. And then deciding on the next configuration. So: to be continued...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday, 19th June 2008

It feels that Homing/In has grown in amplitude, and spherically (if that's possible) this week: in depth, clarity and complexity. This is in large part thanks to all the collaborators and their very generous contributions - in artistic commitment, in discussions and in personal presence. The piece certainly would be a different event without them, or with another team.

So, what do we have? Lots of questions have come up along the way to stimulate and stretch my imagination. My thoughts have bounced around as I home in on Homing/In... Here are random notes from the past three days.

My main focus (after making the movement, seeing what Kally could do with harness and silks and what Steinvor could do in the silks, discussing music/dance relationship with Dmytro and with the dancers) has been the projections - which also means figuring out how the mini-cams, receivers and switcher work. Some major frustrations along the way: sometimes the cameras/receivers haven't worked at all - and it wasn't until today, when Kally observed that they've been fine in the morning but not in the afternoon, and after I had asked that we all turn off our mobile/cell phones, that we thought of the WiFi system in Dance Base... and that perhaps a wireless computer connection could be disrupting one of the receivers. A quick visit to the first (American second) floor and the Green Room... there was Lina, on her laptop... she graciously turned it off, and we were fine again upstairs! Request to Dance Base friends, audience and colleagues: kindly disable all wireless electronic devices between 3:45 and 4:30 tomorrow!

But that was the least of my worries, with respect to the projections. My real questions to myself have been: what goes with what? and why? what is the function of the projections in this piece? Before figuring that out, I asked Steinvor and Kally to do a bit of "homework" and answer these questions: Who are you (in Homing/In)? What is/are your intention(s) throughout? (i.e., why does Steinvor hand Kally the clasp for the harness, and why does Kally accept in and then go up in the air?... aside from me saying that's what I would like them to do) This task proved very fruitful and exciting, since they both expressed almost the same thoughts, but in different language. Kally talked about the camera, and that she feels she is a witness, seeing and reporting (I am paraphrasing); Steinvor said she feels both connected and detached. From this, we could go deeper into their relationship to the movement, to each other, and to Dmytro and his music. And I could then work with the switcher/projector/screen as a result and representation of the dancers' spatial orientation (i.e., showing their perspectives - whether physical, emotional or psychological): revealing where they are, not necessarily what they DO see, but what they MIGHT see (bizarrely, they might be looking somewhere with their eyes - and seeing - but, because the camera is on the sternum, the audience sees something else on the screen).

So, I switch (ha!) around: from a still image, to each of their cameras, to both cameras on a split screen, to both cameras overlaid, to a geometrical pattern of the data, to showing what the mover's body "sees," or what the non-mover sees, and so on. And figuring out when to put in stills...

Ah, yes: stillness (and silence). That has been a topic for discussion. How much sound and/or movement do we need, can we have, before we - spectators or performers - feel overwhelmed? How much is enough? how much is too much? how much is not enough (and why?)? How do we process what we see/hear/smell/taste/touch/sense?

Silence and stillness punctuate dynamic changes. Qualities of movement and sound become clearer. Here is a list of dynamics and intentions that seem to me to fit Homing/In:
  • focus/vision/gaze
  • light/strong/sharp/connected
  • aggression/hesitance
  • caressing/supporting
  • stalking/following
  • showing/revealing/appropriating
Yes, the cameras and the dancers are witnesses - but, who is interpreting the data, and how, and why? (the spectators, no doubt: that seems pretty obvious! - and they are witnesses, too...)

When Steinvor sits in the silks, what we call "the cocoon" recalls a raindrop, or a teardrop.

Another discussion centered around pedestrian movement: I decided, after we'd worked on the unhooking of the harness equipment, that I did not want that action to be solemn, or ritualistic: rather, show the action as action. Sheila asked me when/how I think a quotidian act becomes interesting in a theatrical setting... I think it has to do with:
  • juxtaposition
  • timing
  • intention/engagement with the action
In other words, if one takes the time to do something, and really invest one's attention to that act, without worrying about it, or trying to gloss over it ("I have to get through this, it's just a transition, leading to something you'll enjoy watching"), any action can become interesting/engaging - in a theatrical context.

Sheila mentioned this column that struck her as relevant, by Roger Cohen: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/16/opinion/16cohen.html

And, among all this very serious discussion, lots of laughter. Ceci n'est pas un piano (OK, we know that! - and a Magritte reference). Thinking about the possibility of costumes: how ironic/absurdist could we get (do we want to? no, I don't think so!) - a sylph (Steinvor) and a nun (Kally); other references to 1960s/1970s television: The Avengers, with two Mrs. Peels and one Mr. Steed (who also might be a Magritte painting), I-Spy, Mission Impossible (music)... and so on. Black-on-black (that's what we're using now). I have no imagination for how they might be dressed. Other clothing would definitely add to Homing/In... not sure, yet, about that statement!

So... showing tomorrow at 4:00 pm!
And Saturday is the longest day... midsummer madness?