Sunday was the first rehearsal in a while in creating our piece currently titled Ready/Everything. It was a productive session that provoked a few thoughts on the nature of choreographic processes.
“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something” – Thomas Edison
After having some briefer rehearsal periods of an hour or so, working quickly on just one or two ideas, it was refreshing to get down to a meaty 4 hour session. The idea was to come up with lots of material and see where that could take us; coming into the studio I think our brains had all been a bit stuck in the previous thought processes from other rehearsals. A bit of an overview about the piece: we are working with ideas of text as a way of creating scores and material. These can be in the form of spatial orientation, rhythms, instructions or a feeling explored. In my experience, creating work with scores and rules can be very sticky and halting, until somehow the rules either finally make sense or are thrown out completely.
From here onwards the creative process feels a bit like the second half of a Shakespeare comedy; all the loose ends and misunderstandings are resolved, and it all falls into place in lightning speed.
In our piece, we are definitely still in the chaos of Act One.
So on Sunday, chance played a part slightly as the maps and written rules were left on a bed by accident, meaning we had to start from a different angle. Instead of being beholden to certain structures and fixed text, we rolled a couple of words around our bodies and picked the most interesting ones to play with. Sometimes you have to just be kind to yourself. It is quite a provoking question really – when you allow yourself to break these self-imposed rules in order to get some movement created quickly and relatively easily, does that compromise your original artistic idea? Or is it simply a way of shaking off tension and coming at it from another angle? I don’t know, but just for the sake of my own sanity I’m going to say it’s probably OK.
The Power of Three
To add to the slightly confusing creative process, we are creating this work as a collective effort with no lead choreographer. In case you missed the very subtle clue in the company title, there are three of us involved. This has created a slightly odd balance in terms of decision-making; while three people seems rather a lot when each of us has a slightly conflicting view on something, it’s really not quite enough for one of us to assume leadership and become the decision maker. This often results in lots of “Oh your idea is very lovely but maybe we could do it like this….if you want?” which is not the most productive way of working.
Thankfully, Chloe took direct action this week and suggested that we split the rehearsal into three, giving us a chance to each make the decisions and direct for a while. If you take quantity as a sign of success, it worked pretty well, as we created nearly 7 minutes of completely new material and managed to edit this into a roughstructure. This is certainly a way to continue working for future rehearsals as it makes much more efficient use of time. In the present arts world where a dancer is also choreographer, director and administrator for their company, it is a lovely thing just to find a small way of making things run a little smoother.
Have you faced similar problems in the studio, and how have you overcome them? Let me know in the comments section below!