Posted: April 20, 2011 in Uncategorized
C to the O to the L to the B to the Y!
Yes, Ellie and I are still recovering from the thrill of performing at the NWF. I can’t stress enough how incredible the whole experience was–from watching the Float video for the first time (with feelings of uncertainty and excitement) to performing the finished dance in front of a large and receptive audience. Ellie mentioned in the last post that I seemed cool and collected as we waited backstage before the performance, but the truth is that I had all kinds of nerves and butterflies running rampant through my body. But hey, being nervous kept us focused and resulted in a great show! I was able to see a clip of our performance on Monday and it was fun to view it from the audience’s perspective. I’m sure Julian will be proud whenever we get our hands on the entire video and send it to him!
Our project for the rest of the semester is to come up with a choreographed dance of our own, using contact improvisation as the main inspiration for movement. We began rehearsal on Monday by putting my iPod on shuffle and practicing a little bit of contact improv, exploring what we remembered from the jam in Portland and how the movement potentially fit with the various music genres that popped up. I suppose the music subconsciously drove my “style” of contact improv, or at least manipulated the intensity of the effort I put in. If this is the case, perhaps it would be a good idea to create a mash-up for the soundtrack of this dance, in order to integrate those natural physical and temporal changes.
After a while, Ellie and I began picking out short segments of our contact improvisation that we thought might work well in a choreographed performance. Even with the few pieces of movement we have, the dance already seems at least as physically demanding as Float in terms of lifting and balancing each other. I think that by continuing this process of picking and choosing sections of improv, we’ll have a whole bunch of material that we can string together, cut, edit, and finalize in a relatively short time. Having Annie’s expert opinion on our choreographic choices will aid the process and transform our segments into actual phrases (and ultimately an actual dance).
It’s the beginning of another learning process, although this one is very different than the one we used for Float. Regardless, these last couple of weeks will be filled to the brim with an exploration of contact, choreographic decision-making, and practice, practice, practice!
Posted: April 17, 2011 in Uncategorized
Thank you to all of those who showed up to see us perform on Saturday afternoon! Logan and I were totally pumped for the show. Adrenaline was pounding, nerves and excitement weaving their way through my body. I love that feeling! Performing is such a rush- there’s nothing else like it. Waiting for the show to start, Logan was so chill and calm, while I was wound up like a top. I couldn’t stop moving, stretching, and preparing in every way possible. Thanks for putting up with my craziness Logan! Float was the second piece in the program, following Waters by Annie- performed by her company.
I think Logan and I did a great job. It was one of our best run throughs. The audience responded really well to it. It was extremely invigorating and we really thrust all of the emotion, intention, and energy we had into it. I think Julian would have been really happy with it. One of his past dancers who is now in Annie’s company came up to me and told me that she thought we did a great job and that Julian would have been proud. I hope so! We can’t wait to email him the video of our performance. So much rehearsal for 10 minutes on stage. Well, it was worth it. The process was so much fun, and I feel like we really touched people. Many people after the performance said how moved they were from the piece, and another student told me that she almost started to cry. Having that much power over someone’s emotions is a pretty crazy and thrilling prospect.
I am really pleased with our performance- we were really connected throughout the piece- which gave it a much more real vibe. The unique aspect of a duet is finding that place that you both connect- you are dancing for both of you. Every movement has to be linked- dependent in some way. There is no room for a lack of trust- no room for reservations. You have to just go for every move with the expectation that your partner will be there to support you. I can’t wait to start choreographing our own piece!
Great job and congrats to everyone else who was in the New Works Festival! YOU DID AMAZING!
I have nice Sunday night Colby!
Posted: April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized
How’s it goin? The time until the New Works Festival is quickly dwindling and each day brings more and more excitement to my stomach! Ellie and I met on Monday in our regular rehearsal, and even though we didn’t end up Skyping with Julian, we went to town on Float. We began in the studio, where we shared the space with a small group from the Collaborative Company (which I am also in–it’s directed by Annie). Everyone seems to be scrambling in preparation for the NWF! Despite the slightly restricted space, Ellie and I were still able to focus on and refine our technique. It was actually interesting to see our adaptation to the confined space and how it affected the piece (we tried to stay true to the movement and original intention anyway, but some of the phrases that we planned to extend across the floor had to be shortened).
After a couple of run-throughs, we decided to move down to the performance space where the piece will take place this weekend (WHAT?…so soon!!). Katie Ouimette happened to be on stage practicing her “Falling” piece, which, although spectacular to watch, again hindered our search for rehearsal space. We moved out to the lobby, cleared the chairs and couches, and practiced the piece a few times. We stopped to consult the video a number of times for last-minute technical details, such as small turns that we were unsure of. For the most part, I am feeling that I “own” most of the movement I am performing–it is full of intention and knowledge of what I am trying to convey. I think I’ll have made the entire piece my own by the time this weekend rolls around. We’ll certainly find out come performance time!
Going back to the stage, Ellie and I ran through Float, using cues from the side lights’ and floor tape positions to direct us. The thing I need to focus on most at this point in time is travelling across the stage. It’s a much larger space than we’re used to practicing in and we need to take advantage of the entire area for visual purposes–so our movements aren’t grounded in the center of the stage. Overall, I definitely think that aside from some other small adjustments, we are performance-ready! As a matter of fact, I was so into the singing at the end of one of our run-throughs that when Ellie covered my mouth as part of the choreography, I flinched backward and hit her head! Sorry, Ellie! I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen during the real thing :)
I hope to see everyone at the performance this weekend!!
Posted: April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
On Thursday Logan and I had our tech rehearsal which was really exciting. The piece is finally coming together as a WHOLE which is both nerve-racking and awesome. Before we began, we met the lighting designer Xi, who is really great and basically designed our entire lights sequence. Annie oversaw the entire process and helped mediate between the dance and the lighting. Annie also worked with us on certain technical aspects of the dance that interact with stage position- such as movement and being out of the center of the stage. She taught us that the edges of the stage contain the most power, and that the dancer gets smaller and more predictable as they move center stage, which is why we should always try to move through center stage instead of dancing in it.
We went through the entire dance on the stage slowly so that Xi could program each light cue, and then we ran through it with the lights. When the lights went black and Logan and I were setting up I finally got that nervous, excited, adrenaline high feeling of performing. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a stage so it felt amazing! I can’t wait for the exhilaration of actually performing it in front of an audience. We have a long week ahead of us of dress rehearsals, but I think Float is going to turn out amazing.
Annie and I are still working on a few adjustments to my little solo bits at the beginning and the middle of the piece and Logan and I are still getting used to the edited music- but those last minute blips and adjustments are what keep you on your toes!
We’re getting pumped! Can’t wait to see you guys there on the 16th! It’s going to rock!
Posted: April 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
…I mean COLBY! Sorry, I’m stuck in March Madness Mode right now (despite it being April). Gotta represent UConn as I’m from CT. Anyway, Ellie and I had another great rehearsal today filled with Skyping, dancing, and admiring Julian’s extensive wine bottle collection. We started off by recapping Thursday’s rehearsal with Julian, discussing the advice he gave us and any questions or comments we had about it. He introduced us to his wife, Jocelyn, who is the other dancer in the Float video! Julian, Jocelyn, and Julian’s sister Chrissy (a Colby alum!) then watched me and Ellie perform Float. By now, I’m beginning to feel comfortable performing in front of other people, even if it is only through Skype. I have no doubt that an entire audience will be a little more nerve-racking, though. Besides small errors here and there, our performance was successful–even to the point of Julian saying we’re pretty much ready for the real thing! It’s a huge confidence booster to hear that from the original choreographer more than a week before the actual performance.
The first piece of advice Julian had for us was to continue to perform the piece in front of other people, as it will slowly prepare us for the big day. He then told us to begin the transition into the “human perspective,” which will make the dance seem more natural rather than simply be a continuous set of placements and transitions. This especially applies to the moments where we do not have to exactly follow the music with our movements–we can make them our own and ground them in emotion more than technique. Jocelyn brought up the idea of challenging time in a way, such as the hug in the beginning of the piece becoming slow and personal rather than at a set tempo. Finally, Julian again emphasized the importance of finding the movements and impulses between phrases–moments of subtlety–and smoothly fitting them into the bigger picture. Each moment has its own significance in the piece.
I am starting to feel very confident and comfortable in Ellie and my performance of Float. These next few rehearsals before the New Works Festival will be key in perfecting the piece and utilizing Julian’s comments to do so. I have high hopes and I think our hard work will definitely show through in the end. Start spreading the word!
PEACE (and go UConn)
Posted: April 1, 2011 in Uncategorized
Hey there Colby!
Logan and I had a great rehearsal today which was made even better by a Skype session with Julian! Julian skyped us from a dance studio at the university he is studying at in the Netherlands so that he could help us with the physicality of the piece in addition to giving us verbal tips.
Early on in the rehearsal Logan and I went through the piece a few times to music while the assistant manager for the New Works Festival, Mika Mintz, watched us and took notes on our movements and spacial patterns. Julian suggested in our first skype meeting that having an audience periodically was very helpful to the execution and discovery process. Just having Mika and Annie watching us kept me on my toes and gave me enough nerves and adrenaline to more fully execute my movements. I found that I had more intention and urgency behind my movements when they were watching, and I worked harder to stay in character.
Before skyping with Julian, Annie helped us dive deeper into some smaller sections of the movements that we could make bigger or play with weight more. She told me that during certain points I have to let go and really experience the movements in a way that allows me to catch myself- to solve a problem that I had made for myself in order to make the movements more real. I think this adds a greater dimension to our movements and a sense of honesty reality and risk. In a duet, the ambition to make the movements more real is challenging because it requires complete trust and faith in your partner. Logan must have faith in me that I will support his head and neck as he rolls down my arm, just as I have to trust that Logan will support me as he swings me over his shoulder.
Julian, Logan and I first discussed lighting design and costumes for the New Works Festival. Julian told us that the most important aspect of the costumes were uniformity and a clear connection between the two dancers. After talking over the logistics we quickly moved on to performing the dance for him over skype, after which he gave us tips, suggestions, and clarifications. He emphasized certain moments that we should freeze and linger in, as well as the importance of the clear distinction between staccato and fluid movements. He also talked to us about the importance of facial definition and the mobility of the head. He told us that it is important to utilize all the space we can and that our movements can sometimes be grounded and animalistic, which will accentuate those moments of float in the piece.
Overall it was a fantastic rehearsal and we are scheduled to meet with Julian again on Monday night. Yay!
Until then keep warm Colby, don’t let the incoming blizzard sink your spring spirits!
Posted: March 28, 2011 in Uncategorized
Welcome back, Colby!
Hope everyone had a great spring break. I’m gonna go ahead and say it–there’s nothing quite like a week in Miami for vacation. Absolutely beautiful. Anyway, we’re back in the ‘ville now and Ellie and I are working hard to get Float in performance shape. We had a pleasant surprise this morning when we arrived at the studio to find Annie’s dance company warming up. They didn’t stay very long, but it was great to see professional dancers’ warm-up routines and exercises. After some stretching of our own, Ellie and I ran through the piece a couple of times, working out the kinks from being away for a week. We decided to try dancing to different music in order to concentrate more on the movements, rather than the exact synchronization of music to choreography. I found the mismatched music distracting, which actually may have prepared me for auditory and other distractions that could arise during the New Works performance. However, I think sticking to the original Float music will help me prepare the best.
Before break, Ellie and I had asked Todd Coulter, a professor in the Theater and Dance department, to take a look at our progress during this rehearsal so we could get advice from an acting point of view. Before we performed the piece for Todd, we explained the background of Float and the intentions and inspirations that guided Julian through the choreographic process. Just from the short conversation about the dance, I began to think more deeply about the character I am portraying and how his movements simultaneously reflect personality and performance. After viewing our piece, Todd had a number of helpful suggestions ranging from movement advice to character development. He encouraged us to explore the GOTE of our characters, which stands for Goals, Obstacles, Tactics, and Expectations. This acting technique allows the performer to closely examine the reasoning behind a character’s actions, or in our case, dance movements. By looking at this aspect of our performance, I can get a better understanding of the shifts between alone vs. together and the changes within those parts of the choreography.
Meeting with Todd was great as he gave me an idea of the importance of this character exploration, even for a dance piece. Even small suggestions, such as not holding my breath during jumps and lifts, had a large impact on my performance. His overall message of “release” seemed to provide me and Ellie with a new direction for our movements. I can’t wait to see what Julian thinks of everything when we Skype with him Thursday!
Keep it real Colby,