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:
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.