Rehearsal Log: Beau
The Blue Road is a multi-year project that delves into modes of performance practice. This project began as an improvisational practice using 45 body landmarks to guide new movement pathways, with plans to develop this physical research into an evening length work.
I started the seven tracks in order that they were on my computer, your voice first then mine, using it as both warm up and working. I didn’t give myself any overarching task (like pinball, dropping to the initiation, or spiraling) and found that I was shifting between lots of different ways of accessing the landmarks, sometimes hitting them directly like dart to board, sometimes slowly accessing them through new pathways in the body similar to our pinball, other times taking a superficial or outward path around the body. It felt a little cluttered, not as focused as when I choose one method, but also felt less rigid, less precious. I was just doing the thing that cropped up. This worked particularly well with the tracks that are fast, when I didn’t have a chance to consider what came next. When it was slower, I found myself naturally gravitating to the internal pathways that were circuitous and spiraling (which made me curious about the spiral versions you are playing with). I went through all seven without stopping, then spent time with the first five landmarks building a sequence of movement for my classes. Sitting with the points in this way and refining their exact paths felt like a natural extension of this research, another of the myriad of options to play the score. After I lost focus with this, I played the seven tracks again and gave myself a clear focus for each (pushing towards locomotion, slow and steady through the body, shape making, attached to breath). The one breath version still gets me, almost pisses me off because I can’t follow them all and lose at least a handful each time. I listened to it three times in a row without moving to see if I could sense each point but never made it! Will try moving with it tomorrow. Slowly and steady in general feels best, allows for the deep accessing I think was the initial impetus for the score, but I don’t want to give up the other murkier or even more cliched versions too...feels important for the playing to be democratic!
I started right away with the spoken tracks, today putting them on shuffle so all seven would be randomly played. As I did yesterday, I didn’t plan how I would approach each track but let different options arise to see if any patterns developed —- which they did! When the words were fast, I jumped around from initiation point to point, sometimes through the body but directly, sometimes skipping to the point, sometimes tracing a pathway outside the body to the point. In the longer, slower sequences, I luxuriated in the internal pathways, often closing my eyes, and taking more time to arrive at each point and sometimes barely making it there before the next word came in. This version I kept coming back to, even when things got fast again, to see if I could track as clearly through the body without as much time ... want so successful but want to keep trying, especially on the one breath version which continues to push me to the edge of awareness. My favorite tracks are your longer, more erratic tracks and my one breath in between each word track. I find the space to explore is important right now, maybe because I’m a little removed from my dancing body and still in vacation, laying on the beach body. But why do they have to feel different? Can I be a dancing beach body ... maybe this is what you were talking about when you said we were dancing journey people?!? Things that came up — the shape of bone, murky land, spongy, restrictive surfaces and hardness that gets eroded over time like what happens in cave formation, fog keeps recurring but that is definitely a product of our conversations.
I am listening to Satie alongside the tracks and the weird unknown and strange tracks of his feel good with this too. Want to start reading Blue Highways again, maybe this time with Black Elk Speaks and Whitman as well?!?
Thinking about a spatial pathway for the filming, especially if we are truly on one of the trails which are not wide, so will be a relatively narrow pathway? I’ve been relatively stationary in practice over the past couple of days but also like it when we move!
Made some more choreography from the score and they are definitely class phrases with small inventions inside but I appreciate this direct way of making. I’ve done similar things in the past but never this rigorously I don’t think...and the sitting with something for awhile feels good!
Took a slightly different pathway through today. Separated the seven tracks into 3, approximately 7-minute chunks:
1) Beau Vocal One Breath in between (6:34) + Beau vocal one breath (:40)
2) Ellie45_2 (3:44) + Beau vocal fast (1:40) + Ellie45_3 (1:22)
3) Ellie 45 (2:49) + Beau vocal a little slower (3:59)
For #1, I started with my eyes closed, sensing each landmark and making my way with extreme consideration through the body. This way my warm up, and I kept my eyes closed nearly the entire time. When I did open my eyes, I maintained the internal logic that I had established, the clear mining of each pathway. This was a felt experience. By the time, the one breath version entered I was ready to shift from one point to the next, dropping the internal pathway and trying to “hit” each landmark as it was spoken. I came relatively close and only missed a handful. It was interestingly easier to physicalize this track than it was to merely sense each landmark, physicalizing was faster than the imagined.
For #2, I wanted to move more through space, so added the intention that each landmark would help me locomote. I returned to the internal pathways and found looping sequences to each landmark. The quickness of this version forced me to shortcut certain pathways, to drop them mid stream which felt exciting. When “Beau vocal fast” entered, I dropped the internal and moved externally, focusing on the pathways carving out away from my body which brought even more drive through space. “Ellie 45_3” pushed me into just getting to each landmark internally but the surprise of this was dramatic as I was still pushing the locomotion and yet the speed of shifting from one landmark to the next, while trying to stay internal at this speed, created odd stumbling steps and awkward but compelling shifts. I liked this one, strangely beautiful.
For #3, I actively started shaping the vocabulary with “Ellie 45”, creating far more recognizable dance shapes and transitions. This felt composed, as though I was insta-making a class phrase, and was a product of my doing just that with the score. While I’m not sure if this was the most interesting of the options I played with, it was certainly the most spatial and temporally clear, with obvious edges and overall shape. This was designed, crafted. “Beau vocal a little slower” continued with this process but added in a more internal dimension, trying to balance the compositional with the felt. It made me think about how we handle the dancing together, and how this version felt the most like what happens when we dance together as we are so attuned to noting what we are doing and as much as we might try to stay totally internal, almost removed, we are dancers who like to dance together, in relationships, and so we go to that place of making compositional choices easily and without much effort. Hell, we’ve trained ourselves to do this. I don’t have a feeling about this one way or another, I liked dancing this way, and it felt better than the purely designed and less self-indulgent than the strictly internal. But overall I like each of these three versions and their permutations.
It has been awhile since I’ve danced the score; honestly, I think it’s been since our video shoot in August. I was in the studio at work planning for my classes next week, and I realized that I needed to move in a way that was not prescribed, that was not about creating exercises. I started the score with the noticing score [this is where we hear the score and sense each landmark rather than moving it in any way], and realized how different the feeling was from what I had been doing with my body-brain to make the class material. When I switched to the score, my movement material was smaller, less focused on the space around me and more on the space inside. I have a fantasy that I can have both, the refined understanding of deep initiation points (and not simply felt, but language to describe this) alongside a full physicality that includes stretch, length, and extension. The dropping in with the score often does the same for my movement choices (and focus!) But this dropping into movement choices that are small, slow, soft doesn’t feel necessary, merely the first stop on what playing the score might be. Can my attention to all of the details of the movement be so refined that even the large, fast, and strong be as sensorially acute as the go to? Can my qualitative range grow without diminishing my internal perceptions of pathways, patterns, and points of initiation? I think this will also help me stay alive in the score, as I felt the beginnings of boredom, like “oh, this again.” In general, I like repetition and going back through familiar patterns, but I am starting to find the beginner’s mind waning. How to stay committed and connected to a process that starts to feel old? The value of this seems to be inside the continuing to do it, the repetition is the reward?