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.
In a cafe on Ave A and the goal is to re-remember the 45 landmarks from our score... Yet again starting over. How quickly we forget the map when/if we're wandering. To meander, explore, get lost, look around- not on the way, but as the way- this feels like the opposite of charting a path or following any exact map or instructions. How to follow the instructions lightly, to skip some steps, to get lost to open again to the outcome… and what is the outcome? Is it a state to be achieved? The mist forming around you... an invitation to notice the interior body for the viewer? Does the viewer matter? Sitting in a chair, feet planted and feeling the lightest possible path between the 45. Frustrating to forget again after so many repetitions, and maybe that is the kind of humility needed to be lost and on a path all at once.
Back in the studio in Vermont. I arrived last night, moving off of major highway 91 (coming into VT from MA) as the sun set and onto the blue highway 130 and into the woods through small ski towns with brightly lit pubs and snow gleaming through bare trees. By the time I reached the road that leads me home, VT 22A, the moonlight was bathing barns and silent cows. This drive, no matter how many times I make at different times of day, feels like the blue road.
Glad that we have been sticking with this practice. It makes me think about mastery and how many hours it actually takes to master something (they say 10,000). Now that I know the 45, my mind is more free to imagine other things- my mind today travels out to the road, to my own journeys, especially cross country drive across Kansas (heading to Colorado, or further west). Imagining vast plains and horizons in this open studio, grey skies, with eyes out for a hawk, or livestock or limestone fence posts, old windmills, sagging barns with broken boards, differing grasses- I imagine all of this as I begin the 20ish minute version with the sound. As I continued, the idea of the witness came up- myself sitting in the blue chair at the front of the studio, watching the dance and enjoying the breath and the lightness of the approach at the beginning, the section of digging into ball rolling and wringing- the subtle presentation- the wafting that I love to do. Eyes open.
Today was one of the first nice sunny days, and the first day that I was able to dance outside. What a gift- the sun truly provides inspiration! I began with wafting- it felt right to float through the 45 to remember, to dust the cobwebs out of my brain with each waft of air. I then moved on to a standing version of what we have been practicing on the floor, navigating each landmark in its time. This provided some interesting shapes and felt very formal- like an old-fashioned plastique. Then, I finally got to just dance for the full length of the new music draft from Benoit… What gorgeous sound. I tried today to envision that you were there with me, the way that it feels to see you in the periphery, to look right at you, to be inspired by how your form is different than mine, and how you make different choices. Things felt much more magical and subtle with the music, and I questioned my choices less than in silence.
Least Heat Moon 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. 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.
I began wondering about the difference between using the score as a warmup and warming up with something else and going into this... think that the former is more productive.
Hard sometimes to tell the difference between the heart and the genitals, the clit and 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.
I experimented with doing the score as choreography. I improvised, but with the feeling that I was performing known choreography... this 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.
7 minute versions-Here's how I categorized them:
1) slow and considered
2) locomotive and move external
Near the end of my practice, the sky turned an opaque white, and humidity took over as I entered the day.
Random Treatise: 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 proposept geometry in the body and 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 the 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.