Solo-ing

It may sound obvious but when you arrive at graduate school you don’t know anyone all that well. I mean, I connected with a few folks at the audition but not with a lot of depth. And yet a major part of my experience here is hopefully centered around making dances which for me in the past has always been about relationships – casting was a way to determine the direction that the piece may go. All this to say…

I AM MAKING A SOLO.

It’s a daunting task.

At first I was heading into the studio alone late on Wednesday evenings and that was just tiring/lonely/unproductive. Now I’m coming in early to meet with my colleague Katherine Moore who is serving as a loosely defined dramaturg for me. Here’s a map of how it’s gone so far:

chartgo

As you can see (hopefully), after Katherine began joining me in the studio on 9/28 things went from vaguely poor to pretty consistently great. This was due to several factors:

  • She is encouraging. There is absolutely no reason for her to be there and her presence affirms that the work I am making is worthwhile and going somewhere hopeful.
  • It requires me to be consistent. If I say I am going to perform a sequence of movements in a specific way or in a particular order, well, she’s looking for that.
  • She notices things that won’t occur to me on the inside in a way that watching a video of myself just cannot do.

All of this underscores my deep belief in the importance of dramaturgy. I have almost-always worked with a dedicated dramaturg in the past although my conceptions of the role were definitely broadened by reading, re-reading Katherine Profeta’s book Dramaturgy in Motion. Profeta has been long-time dramaturg to Ralph Lemon, among others and not only is she a thoughtful and inspiring writer, she is also incredibly down to earth in person as I discovered last week. Profeta emphasizes the relational aspect of dramaturgy and readily encourages folding challenges that arise in process into the work itself which is a fruitful sort of permission. I’m sure I’ll talk more about her soon.

One more tidbit about the solo: I’m attempting to make a small piece about BIG ideas like mortality, presence and what we think about while we watch dances. It’s a bit meta (probably more than a bit) but hopefully in a way that challenges audience members while also inviting them to take a brief journey with me. Is that vague enough for you? Here’s a short video clip* that emphasizes how Katherine is encouraging my to play with repetition:

*The performer in me wants you to know that this was from a rougher rehearsal and I wasn’t feeling very warm and it looks better now and it’s new and…duh.

All this to say: solo work is daunting, it helps to have a supportive presence and just showing up consistently has a real impact.

2 thoughts on “Solo-ing

  1. I loved the excerpt from your Grad School Audition Solo in the RLP Presents show last year. Made me want to see more of your solo work. And video obviously doesn’t capture everything, but I look forward to seeing more video of your work, especially this kind of solo work which challenges you.

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  2. I really like that your axis of awesome goes up to 900. And I’m glad you have a supportive, encouraging presence in the room with you. I guess it’s not that different from trying to write alone, but I’m amazed that anyone can be productive in the studio all by themselves. #dancebias I guess!

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