9th Rehearsal!

Posted: March 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Heyo Colby!

Spring break and is just around the corner and Logan and I left off our Float rehearsals on a great note today!  We began rehearsal by warming up with stretches and across the floor exercises.  Then we ran through the piece a BUNCH of times. I can definitely feel the muscle memory component sinking in, which is really helpful because it makes it a lot easier to focus on technique and stylistic elements such as weight when I’m not racking my brain for what comes next.  Logan and I are finally starting to sync our movements with the music and incorporate this idea of “floating” in our movements.  Each action requires effort and intention.  I feel as though we are just now finding out what these intentions truly are and how are movements can mirror those intentions.

We had a visitor today, so Logan and I preformed the piece for another student and Annie.  This more formal run through went quite well.  I found that effort as well as acting were incredibly important in the dance in order make it a coherent whole with a message worth portraying to an audience. Now that the piece is flowing more freely, I can let my emotions and acting impact my movements, how I carry my body, and my manipulation of weight.

After our mini performance, Annie had us run through the piece in slow motion as though we were in water.  She explained to us that this would help us gain awareness and learn how to control our bodies more efficiently by experiencing more obvious shifts of weight. It was more difficult than expected but I found that the next time we ran through the piece I was softer on my feet and used my muscles and joints more to absorb and manipulate my weight.  This also helped to accentuate movements.

Finally at the end of practice, Logan and I did some final stretching and loosening up. Ready for some relaxing!

Have a great break!

~Ellie

Advertisements

Eighth Rehearsal

Posted: March 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Goooooooood evening, Colby!

Today was the first rehearsal Ellie and I had in a week, due to her participation in a dance conference in Keene, New Hampshire. We began rehearsal with a lengthy loosening-up session, starting with a body rolling exercise. This is basically when one person acts as a human  steam-roller and rolls across the other person, who is lying on their stomach. It’s a fast way to stretch muscles via pressure and controlled movement. The second warm-up exercise involved one person manipulating the limbs of the other. This is done by having one person lie on his/her back while the partner moves and shakes that person’s legs, arms, and head. It forces the person on the ground to relax and give up all control to the manipulator.

After the warm-up, Ellie and I ran through Float a few times, stopping whenever we ran into a timing or memory issue (which was more frequently than I would have liked, haha). We were able to get back into the groove of the piece surprisingly quickly, which helped us when we finally reached the last few phrases and movements. We were both a little sore going into rehearsal, so after practicing the dance a number of times, Ellie and I set aside some time for massaging and even more stretching.

We devoted the last chunk of rehearsal to running through the entirety of Float multiple times, only stopping when absolutely necessary. I feel like I (and Ellie as well) am reaching the point where the dance is almost fully in my muscle memory, allowing me to really focus on meaning. There came a point after one run-through when Ellie and I looked at each other in surprise at how far we’ve come and how much better the piece looks since we’re focusing on the effort behind the movements more. Every time we practice Float, I can feel myself getting more and more out of breath by the end–not due to simply rehearsing it over and over, but because of my growing concentration on technique and the effort I put into the intention behind it.

Although we still have a while before the New Works Festival, I am seriously impressed at the speed of our progress and I can’t wait to show Julian what we’ve accomplished when we Skype with him on Thursday! Feelin’ good!

Talk to you soon,

Logan

Seventh Rehearsal

Posted: March 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

What’s gooood, Colby?

Today was a VERY productive day. Despite my pounding headache (originating from some sickness I had the honor of obtaining over the weekend), Ellie and I figured out the remaining choreography to Float!

We started out by watching the video a couple of times to refresh our memories of the movements we had most recently learned. We quickly moved on to the physical practice of that choreography–reminding each other along the way of anything the other person may have forgotten. After running through the routine a few times, we decided to move on to the last chunk of the video. Using the same (seemingly effective) learning style we had been working with until then, Ellie and I learned the final portion of the dance. I found transferring the movement of the dancers into my own body to be a little easier this rehearsal, which is probably a result of getting used to learning via video.

I realized something strange and inspiring today as I was dancing. My sickness naturally gave me a tired, lagging feel, which I automatically (and unknowingly) reflected in my movements. When I first noticed it in the mirror, I was upset at myself and tried to improve my posture and energy level, but they quickly fell back into the sickly, sub-par realm. After a while, however, I started noticing how this look accentuated some of the movements and underlying emotions I was trying to convey. For example, the male dancer’s crawl near the beginning of the piece took on a more struggling and helpless appearance as I failed to hold back my fatigue and pain. I took note of these renewed movements and definitely plan on returning to a superficially “sick” state to help with the performance.

After rehearsing the entire piece a few times, Ellie and I invited Annie to see and critique us. We messed up a few parts during the run-through, revealing just how much practice we still have ahead of us before we can even think about a real performance. Ellie and Annie then spent a good amount of time going over the female dancer’s solo in the second half of the piece, giving me an opportunity to review the sequence of phrases in the dance, solidifying them in my memory. I feel like I finally have the whole piece in my mind, which will allow me to focus strictly on intention and presentation in future rehearsals.

Having sung and played instruments in front of large audiences before, and having performed my first choreographed dance piece at the First Thursday Museum Event last Thursday (March 3rd), I know how much of a gap there is between knowing a piece and being able to professionally perform it before others. Although Ellie and I have come very far in our understanding and memorization of Float, we still have a huge amount of work to do. However, given our fast learning pace, I know we’ll be able to put on a great show at the New Works Festival in April. It will be legendary!

Nothin’ but love,

Logan

Sixth Rehearsal

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hey there Colby!

Logan and I had our sixth practice yesterday which was pretty exciting and enlightening.  Now that we have the entire section of Float on video that we will be performing, we have been trying to outline the entire piece.  In this past rehearsal we chose new sections of the piece and learned them through repeated viewings and trial and error. The second half seems to have a different choreographic style which is both engaging and profound.  The new elements bring a different mood and setting to Float. I am really enjoying the prospect of discovering more about how to utilize and manipulate weight and action vs. reaction in our movements.  How can weight propel us from one move to another? How can we make every moment hold momentum, meaning, and intent?

After watching the first half of Float so many times, it existed in my mind as a whole entity with an ambiguous ending.  Now that I have experienced the second half as well, the piece holds a greater range of meaning.  The movements are intensified and more organic and the body is freer and looser.  There are clear references to childhood and the notion that time is moving too quickly.  The ending repetition of suffocation intensifies the experience and makes it incredibly real.

I have begun to really feel the piece internally as an emotional and intellectual experience.  I have probably watched the piece hundreds of times, and I have learned a significant portion of it; however, it is only now that I am really beginning to connect with the piece in a larger way. Art often has a way of sneaking up on you.  Just as my english professor, Professor Boylan, told me, sometimes the most profound pieces of literature (and art) are works that you have already read, but you can only connect with them later in life when you are ready for the message that they hold. I feel that Float holds that truth for me. Art can be something that you pass by after a first glance because is seems bizarre and like it would take to much effort to understand -but the investment is worth it!

Have a great weekend!

Ellie

Fifth Rehearsal

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

What’s poppin’, Colby?

So today Ellie and I had our first rehearsal after the meeting with Julian. He ended up sending us the rest of video over the weekend, so we were finally able to watch Float all the way through (well not ALL the way–the entire performance is about 10 minutes long, but we’ll only be learning a 5.5 minute chunk of it).

The new material is filled with great moments of synchronized phrases contrasting with independent movement, just like in the first 3 minutes that we were able to view in our previous rehearsals. Ellie and I started out by watching the new section three or four times through, giving us an opportunity to get a general feel for the emotions and stage positions of the dancers. We began to learn the choreography the same way we practiced the first half–we replayed one small section of each phrase multiple times and mimicked the movement until we had an idea of how it all fit together.

As we started the learning process again, I kept in mind the comments Julian had made about personally relating to the piece and the thoughts we want to convey through the movement. In a way, this made memorizing the choreography easier, since I was able to focus less on exactly copying the timing, angles, and expressions in the video and more on unfolding the relationship between those characteristics and my own intentions. Thanks, Julian!

After running through a bit of the new portion of Float a few times, Ellie and I performed it from the beginning. Focusing on Julian’s suggestions, I found the first half of the piece to flow smoothly, as I tried to let the motives I thought of, inspired by Julian’s suggestions, drive my execution of the piece. This process is a little more difficult when performing the new choreography, as I feel like I need to have at least some set movement memorized before allowing my body’s specific interpretation.

Overall, it was a great day. We’re back on track for learning and personalizing the movement and the previously rehearsed sections are loosening up and becoming our own. I can’t wait to see what the end result will look like!

Have a great week–it’s almost March!!

-Logan

First Skype Meeting with Julian!

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hey there Colby!

Today Logan and I had our first skype meeting with Julian Barnett- therefore it is safe to say that it was a pretty awesome day.  He called us from the Netherlands where he is doing graduate work on dance.

Julian talked to us about Float, his choreographic process, and his intentions for the piece and the dancers.  In Float, which was amazingly Julian’s first piece, he sought to explore and experiment with the limitations of the body.  Julian feels that this piece represents a reflection into childhood as well as the experience of being torn between childhood and adulthood.

The intensity of this life transition is amplified by the tension between the two people. Julian created this piece when was he was 24 years old.  As a recent college graduate he felt that his friends were being torn away from him, everyone spiraling into a different life direction. Julian explained that for him this piece was a way of saying “farewell.” The tension can also be seen through the relationship between the dancers, which represents a friendship and kinship with the possibility of an underlying romance.  He sees the piece as being an open door for discovering meaning.  The decision must be made by the dancers as well as the audience.  Julian urged us not to get stuck in a literal interpretation and to instead focus on the “nostalgic reflection” that can partner with many possibilities.

In our discussion of Float, Julian kept returning to the idea of tension, which is found in the physical body, between the two dancers, and between the dancers and the audience.  This tension is what makes the piece real and not simply a representation. Julian stressed that each performance must be real, tangible, and new.  For him, dancing is not acting but living a new experience each time the dance is performed.

After Julian talked with us about Float we preformed the dance for him twice.  His notes were extremely helpful and ranged from corrections on specific movements and actions to overarching suggestions to keep in mind for the entire piece.  He wanted us to focus on the idea of action and reaction.  In order to achieve this we need to depend more on one another and find where each action and reaction begins.  Julian also stressed that each moment, whether between or during a move, must be full. Dance is not just a series of movements but a connecting progression of of actions, intentions and emotions.

Overall the meeting was very enlightening and I can’t wait to work on his suggestions and meet with him again in two weeks.  Meeting with Julian makes the whole process feel very real and professional.

Have a great weekend Colby!

Ellie

Third Rehearsal

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Happy Monday, Colby!

So today Ellie and I began our rehearsal once again with some stretching and warm-up exercises. I find that a thorough pre-practice routine helps with two main components of our dancing: loosening up the muscles and joints and waking up the body for early-morning activity (well, early by my sleepy standards). Without these key ingredients, I suppose I would never recover from my groggy roll-out-of-bed feel.

Before we even looked at the video of Float, we did a slow run-through of everything we’ve learned up until now. Although it was rocky in some places, we remembered all the general movements. Next, we watched the video straight through, or at least the first half of it (we have yet to receive the full version from Julian, but I’m sure we’ll have it shortly!). This was particularly helpful for me since I could examine the movements I had just practiced–focusing on those that were most troublesome (e.g. the lift). Viewing the video without pausing also helps with solidifying my sense of timing with the music. Although Ellie and I have to rehearse the movements much more before we can perfect the timing, it’s good to keep the musical cues in the back of our heads.

We spent the majority of the remaining time practicing the piece with the music playing in the background. Again, matching up exactly with the music was not our number one priority (nor did we achieve it, most of the time), though we seem to be slowly but surely progressing toward that. Whenever the timing was off between the two of us on a particular phrase, we would stop the music and work together to match our movements and the time we spent in any one position. After a brief massage session, which definitely helped loosen up the shoulders for the flinging and sweeping movements, we ran through the entire piece a number of times. I can definitely sense the muscle memories beginning to form.

Overall, things are looking great. We seem to be learning Float relatively quickly, considering the circumstances (watching a YouTube video, little contact with the choreographer, etc.). The plan is to Skype with Julian Thursday, which will be very helpful since we can show him our work and hopefully get access to the rest of the piece.

Till next time!

~Logan