Rehearsal Log: Ellie

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.

Below is my rehearsal log/some notes from working this past week here at Playa (where I am in residence with Tori Lawrence + Co.).  But first, I'm well into Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways... here are some thoughts...


What I like about it is that he doesn't come at his journey from a point of "research."  What he learns is all the more important because he doesn't place an imposed importance on it.  He doesn't, for instance, ask the monk why he became a monk because he is writing a book, but because he is genuinely curious.  This improvised path/style is the work. He truly shows up and pays attention- and then parses out what has heart and meaning for him.  It also makes a wonderful case for the art of living/living as an artist... and for not "working" all the time (which is so often pretending to work/be important).  


Some language I love so far... quotes from conversations:

"without so many things around, we have more time"

"junk's a modrun invention"

From WLHM:  "sitting full in the moment, I practiced on the god-awful difficulty of just paying attention... he who misses the journey misses about all he is going to get- ...a man becomes his attentions.  His observations and curiosity, they make and remake him"


Log1:  6/7/18, had no spoken score yet

very slowly reviewed all 45 points- allowing each point to sojourn- follow a meandering route (rather stationary)

did a seven minute improvisation in which I remembered the points in whatever order they came up and traveled throughout the space- sometimes naming/deciding came first, and sometimes motion would begin and I would then name the landmark

these were often repeated:  elbows, right heel, left ball of foot, navel, left clavicle, right scapula, fingertips, buttocks, left upper arm, right forearm, ankles

sadly, I forgot about:  heart, tail, stomach, shoulders

so, after that I improvised on those points alone


Log2:  6/8/18

a more practical day, went right to the barre to warm-up

practiced the recording of my own voice saying the 45 landmarks at different intervals- I let it be easy, but remained fully present in my attention


Log3: 6/11/18

began with my voice quick, then medium, then slow… using each landmark as an initiation for movement throughout, continuous, not questioning, aware of surroundings and focus

began wondering about the difference between using this as a warmup and warming up with something else and going into this... think that the former is more productive

moved into doing the tiniest shifts with the fastest recording while seating (really interesting when starting in a different position)

then practiced the ball rolling method one more time- starting to know the order very well and trying not to remember and keep it fresh (though maybe it could become ingrained/accidentally memorized)


Here is some nasty language (which I am sure you can replace with your kind of equipment and it might make sense) came up at the end… Hard sometimes to tell the difference between the heart and the clit, or walls of the vagina, squeezing and pumping for life, fluttering muscle, and constant sensation, the rest of the organs so utilitarian in their coiling facility, factory paths, it's inseparable, the whole bloody thing.


Log4 & Log5:

Was reading Blue Highways and this struck me: "I was on a Ferris wheel, moving along, seeing far horizons, coming close to earth, rising again, moving, moving, but all all the time in the same orbit.  Black Elk says, "Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle." A hope."

Also, awhile back I was taking class with Quaywong (one of the new BTJAZ guys) and he had us do an improvisational circling warmup I can tell you more about later and I decided to try our score with circles of various sizes on different planes.

It was great (I thought)!... I did the slowest, and a little slower, and faster (transposing all the rights and lefts).  

Then I experimented with doing the score as choreography.  I improvised, but with the feeling that I was performing known choreography... this was interesting because it made me much more aware of what was front (or alternately, where the camera might be) and also of my path in space.  I also tended to be more clear and precise with my actions. It felt like an instant dance, ready for the stage or screen... !

Log6: Morning practice -hot humid summer studio-

-Barest of warmups/a non-warmup/body prep-
bit of arnica & into it-
Working with and not in spite of kinks in the body from travel and move-

Tracks on shuffle --> warming
-fast came on first- and whoa it was strangely easier before getting into movement to check into each of the 45 at that speedy pace-
First I happened upon working with the "points" score that I learned from Samantha Von Wissen a couple of summers ago, usually a partner touches you and that is your landmark, but instead I moved into what I heard, sometimes retaining my position/posture and accumulating shape, sometimes moving at different tempi into and through the landmarks
Then I moved into our standby "ball" version and focused on getting bigger/moving beyond myself & then bigger-
then 'why so vertical?!'
-finding the floor- trying all the time to resist the urge to reverse/balance the body-
-I then moved into trying to translate every landmark into warmup material/more dance-y material (a bit more known)
-Found an interest in when things bleed into other things and when they break

7 minute versions from your last Log (BH Log #3)- Here's how I categorized them:
1) slow and considered
2) locomotive and move external
3) composed/composing


I tried keeping my eyes closed throughout #1, and it was quite difficult for me (though my focus had been very soft before that)... will try that again soon!
The very fast versions with very large movements were easier, and such fun.  I finally felt really in it... and in retrospect, it felt as though it had really taken a long time for myself to get "in it"  
This had me questioning what the difference is, can it be perceived from the outside, or is it something that is simply felt by the dancer.

Near the end of my practice, the sky turned an opaque white, and humidity took over as I entered the day.


To end, here is a random treatise on what it is to be a dancer.  Reorder it as you will, and please forgive it’s old-fashioned style and sensibility:

To be a dancer is to blend art, science, metaphysics, spiritual, and logical thinking in movement.  It is to understand the inner and outer world and the form that occurs between the two. Learning dance technique is learning to make yourself safe and comfortable in any position, in any situation with other bodies, and find alignment at any tempo.  It is being able to recognize danger, take care of yourself and others in the moment, and push yourself past comfort when needed. It is being able to follow directions fully without losing your sense of self, to be patient, and to be ready. To hone memory, to master breath, to be efficient, and to not take things too seriously (to find the right tone).  To draw the lines out from yourself into the world. To not fear the functionality of the body and its systems and processes. To find delight in repeated movement, curiosity about what is different and the same. To follow the four rules (most of the time). To understand the limits of codified systems of movement (and ways of thinking about movement) and their uses.  To understand form from within. To be able to propeocept geometry in the body and in space (lines in space). To know metaphor intimately and resist simile in many cases. To fully accept your own structure and work with your posture and ratio of strength and flexibility. To be available to your choreographer and the audience. To feel and to be seen in three dimensions.  To be a dancer is to fully make a life in dance in your own way, to practice often in your own way(s), and to live within and beyond your lineage and training. To further to canon/the trajectory of dance, to make it better as you see fit. To feed/nourish yourself with food, language, imagery, and experience (in life and in art). To make change your constant.

- Ellie