Small Dances Week 7: Set Some Parameters

December 31, 2013

Yesterday I was looking through the list of remaining Small Dances rehearsals, and allocating time for things like recording sound, and full runs of the piece. And, gahhhh, there isn't a lot of time! It's not necessarily a bad thing, because it's forcing me to make decisions-- the kind of decisions that I would mull over for months if we were going to perform the piece in August instead of February. Also: it's forcing me to use restraint, and create some parameters around what I'm working with.

I've written about my love of parameters many times before. I think of it like this: if I walk into an empty room and decide to make a dance, the possibilities are endless. Even if I have a sense of what the work is "about" or a beginning concept, there's still a lot to decide-- the vocabulary, the number of performers, the amount of space it will take up, sound, text, direction, energy... I like to make rules so that I have fewer options. I've been setting parameters for the piece using these starting points:

1) It Is | It Isn't-- As with my last project, I've found it helpful to make a list of what really belongs in the piece, and what kinds of elements (movement, sound, text) can be left for the next project. It's about editing, and simplifying. I can't possibly explore everything in one dance-- unless I want it be a bunch of overly general crap. This allows me to really commit to what I AM leaving in the piece.

2) Original Intentions-- When I'm having trouble with figuring out the above, I think back to my original intentions with the piece. A big goal was to play around with taking a single movement solo, and presenting it in as many ways as possible, varying the performer, the sound, the text, the intention. Another big goal was to fully involve a stage manager in my process. And, with the performances, my goal is to present the project to audiences that might not see a lot of dance. When I'm feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities of the project, I come back to these starting places.

3) Space Is The Thing-- This week I wrote about dance and space for Minnesota Playlist, sharing that I've rarely spent a lot of time tailoring my movement to specific spaces-- an oversight for sure. This time I can't help but consider how space is going to influence these dances. For starters, we probably aren't going to have a lot of space: most of our performance spaces are quite small. Secondly, the audience probably won't have a lot of space between themselves and the dancers, which changes how the movement will feel/register. And lastly, there are a lot of 'probablys' in this equation, because every space we perform in will be different. I want to consider how we can adapt the piece to fit the various spaces, even with just a half hour to rehearse.

We've had a lot of rehearsal breaks to make space for the holidays. I'm looking forward to jumping back into the process fully-- less thinking, more doing.

Small Dances Weeks 1-6: It's a Big Onion
Small Dances: My New Project


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