Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Two Loves I Have...

Okay. Here we have the eternal triangle... sort of. When chosing the sonnets for use, I have to look at them with the idea of "Are they dancable?" or "Does dance illuminate anything?" Quite often people will bring me pieces (music, poems, etc) which they believe would make good dance ideas. But many times they are too literal. For instance, if a poem is too much of a narrative, then you can get into the trap of simply "accompanying" the poem with movement. Likewise, some musical pieces. The dance isn't allowed room to breathe. Sometimes, it is the material that says the least which is the most appropriate for dance.

This poem is quite simple. Someone (probably a man) is in love with two people. A woman. And a young man. Often this is explained away as a platonic thing, but it's the 2001st century and let's just accept it for what it is. The thing is that in this case, the narrative voice sees the woman as being the negative influence and the young man as the positive.

Another spin is that some sort of relationship is also occurring between the two beloved figures, where the woman is seen as corrupting the youth.

This sonnet was chosen specifically because it offered choreographic variety. You can do things with three bodies in space that you cannot do with two. We have already seen one pas de trois in Act One, with Chelsy and two guys, but that piece is just a nice spring romp. Abby, the central female in this piece, is older than Chelsy. So her dancing has a bit more of a bite. She is a very intelligent dancer and she has a delicacy that is combined with a quiet strength and assurance.

Ari and Chris like to act. And this piece needs a bit of drama. These characters are slightly reminiscent of the rocker leads in the Todd Haynes film Velvet Goldmine. Are they more interested in each other or the seemingly self sufficient woman? Are they Truffaut's Jules and Jim? The male dancers were also chosen because of their dissimilar sizes.

I didn't want a girl and a set of twins (or brothers.) I wanted three distinct bodies.

Well, when I set this last year, it was the last piece to be completed and quite honestly I got to a certain point and ran out of ideas. All three dancers were new to me, so I didn't quite have a grip on what I wanted to see them do. So I got to the above point in the piece and then I went in a different direction...

As you can see I brought a group in. I kind of had this idea of a growing complexity. I brought 2 girls in. Then 2 guys then two more girls, etc. Always leaving the group with one extra person.

That way I could keep the energy building to the end of the number. But I was never really satisfied with it. I felt as if I had taken the easy way out. Okay, I'll admit it. It was my one bit of cheating in the whole ballet. I knew I had a big finale coming up. So injecting a group number in this place didn't really make sense. But I knew the audience would buy it because it was flashy.

I had also come to a dead end with the trio.

So this year, back in January, we had a show-and-tell type event in our new studios. I used the opportunity to re-address the second part of this piece. Now that I had a better knowledge of what Abby, Ari, and Chris could bring to the dance, I was able to look at it with that in mind.

We now stay with the three dancers only. Their dancing becomes more passionate and frenzied. A series of rather breathtaking tosses have been introduced along with some additional partnering between the two guys.

And it all climaxes in a rather unique finishing pose. Ta-da!

And just in case you felt that the restaging was a bunch of frivolity. I am including this unstaged picture.

Isn't it interesting how all the gentlemen have their hands on their hips?

When I restaged the last part of the piece, I started pretty well and then got to a midway point. The ideas weren't coming and we were working on a pretty troublesome lift (that was later cut). I didn't want to be in the same position I had been in the year before, so I sent the dancers home. The next day, same thing. Luckily the day after that inspiration struck. Sometimes you have to push it. But if you are in the position where you can take the time to step back and let inspiration strike. Just do it.



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