•September 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Tonight was the last performance at The Garage.  I wish I had one or two more nights to perform this piece.  I’ve learned a few things with this structured improv:

1.  Show the structured improv to a small audience/group during the rehearsal process (seems obvious, but I didn’t do this).  Doing the improv in front of people made it feel completely different.  More adrenalin.  More self-aware.

2.  Play with different improv structures.  I stuck with one.

3.  The piece should be longer so that it can develop more.  I was very concerned that it would be too long and get boring, but it actually doesn’t register enough at the length it is (4.5 mins).  I think it could be around 6 minutes or even 7.

4.  Improvisational performance is a very interesting idea to me and I want to play with it more!

5.  I feel inspired to create work and hope to keep creating work.

6.  Dance is so much more than perfect technique and a perfectly tuned body.  I have felt so discouraged with my body lately–it’s stiffness and my lack of technical training.  We all have stuff to work on and we all have strengths.  I want to be open to what I need to work on but be happy to know that I’m never going to master anything.  It’s about practice, accepting your strengths and weaknesses and working with both.

7.  I am hesitant to pursue dance more aggressively for financial and logistical reasons and because sometimes I just really need a break and time away from it–I feel these things make me not a dancer.  is that true?  What makes you a dancer? And what makes you not a dancer?  I am suddenly in a space where I am not really dancing.  Am I suddenly no longer a dancer?  Why do I identify with dancer so much?  Am I afraid to lose that part of myself?  probably.

8. There is more to life than dance.  Dance reflects and is part of life, but is not life.  At least, not for me.

9.  Struggle and gesture often comes out of my work.

10.  I love metaphors

Gearing up for Performance

•September 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I am performing my solo, Expect, Wednesday and Thursday night of this week at The Garage in San Francisco.  I just took a deep breath.  The solo has become an improvisational score.  I also have added a prop–a skirt, which I wear around my head and manipulate during the piece.  I went to see Technocraft at YBCA, an exhibit that explores how the boundaries between designer and consumer are disappearing.  In one section of the exhibit, furniture is taken apart and put back together in different ways.  For example, a chair may have two arm rests pushed together to serve as a seat.  Light fixtures weren’t simply lamps, with a lampshade.  Light source became more functional.  One “lamp” served as a stand for a book; the book then becoming the lampshade.  The exhibit made me think of using something in an expected way and how I often take for granted the function and design of common, everyday things such as clothing and furniture–things that we either rest on or inhabit.  How often do we question how those things are designed and used?  Clothing provides a sense of composure and control and even censorship over the body.  It reveals, but only so much.  It contains you, but only so much.  How can it be manipulated into something more than just an item of clothing and how does that item of clothing inhibit and free someone?  How can something like a skirt, which, to me, represents a feminine, formal or playful/sexy item of clothing, be seen in a different way?  In a way that our expectations of both the garment and the person in it start to get challenged?

As I gear up for the performance, I feel I need to focus on some things:

This performance is primarily for me to learn from.

I need to stay engaged with my score and the garment I am working with–in some sense, shut the audience out.

I need to come back to Expectations–what they mean to me–where the struggle lies and how that translates through the body.

More to come soon…

Stream of consciousness

•August 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As I watched playback from my rehearsal, I wrote….

Awkward moments.  I know you’re watching me.  What I be doing?  Should I say hi?

Marking up your face.  Clean it off.  Erase it.  Erase yourself.  Rewind.  Boundaries.  Make Boundaries–touch the ends.  Which way should I go–middle ground–wobbly ground.  Stand on two feet.  Don’t fall down.  Drive. Go. Watch yourself.  Turn it inside out, upside down.  Countdown.  Get out of the middle.  Traffic.  Forward, back. Back and forth.  Dreaming, waiting, watching.  Move forward, go back.  Stop.  Stay in the middle. Lose ground.  Gain ground.  What do you expect.  Counting.  Countdown begins. 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 2, 1. Order. Disorder.  Deciding.  Taking.  Waiting. Doing.  Do. Go. Back. Forth. In. Out. Up. Down. Side Side.  choose.  don’t choose.


•August 4, 2010 • 2 Comments

Today, improvising felt really good.  I have been in a bit of a slump with my solo, but today I felt some new ideas and inspiration forming.  I played with this improv today, beginning to set more material.  This solo has been creating some frozen moments for me–some fear.  I can’t seem to make decisions.  I realized that this is reminiscent of my subject.  Expectations, for me, often involve multiple choices or different roads one can go down (professionally, personally, etc.).  They seem to involve living within what might be instead of living with what is and making decisions, regardless of what might or might not happen.  You have to decide.  Today, I worked on that.


•July 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Home, where soul meets soul

A deep dwelling to breathe in

Forge ahead, don’t hide

sleepless night with marcel duchamp

•July 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” –Marcel Duchamp.

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) began his art career as a painter, and transitioned into sculpture/still life work.  During his era, he began to break the molds of art, which was primarily considered a pleasing thing for the eye to look at and observe.  He wanted to challenge people to think differently about art by giving them something completely new and even arbitrary to not just look at, but think about. Examples of this type of work are Bicycle Wheel and other readymades, which were created between 1915 and 1923.

Duchamp preferred not to be labeled as a  Surrealist, Cubist or Dadaist–although he was influenced by and contributed to these movements.  He was interested in breaking the rules of art by making things that weren’t beautiful and in doing so he created work that was unpretentious and caused introspection.  He was courageous, interested in thinking critically and was unafraid to present what might at first seemed banal.  By using objects such as the one below, he enticed his audience in an unexpected way. Everyone can relate to a bicycle wheel or a urinal because they are common items.  His display of them as art work invites the viewer in in a familiar way, and yet I can also see how he might have made his spectators uncomfortable, causing them to ask questions about that particular object and how its public display might or might not change its meaning, value or characteristics.  Or maybe even challenge how the viewers relate to the object–what feelings, thoughts and associations it generates in them.   Check out this website for some more info:  marcelduchamp

Rehearsal progress

•July 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The tasks I outlined for myself in my last post seemed stringent and not all that insightful once I was in the studio.  They seemed a bit too large and abstract; however, I was able to focus on task 1 and 2.  As I focused on the way I move and then on trying to break free of habitual patterns, I felt self-conscious and extremely aware of my choices.  This awareness felt inhibiting to a certain extent.  In thinking about this inhibition more, I realize that having high expectations can also lead to self-consciousness.  You may be so acutely aware of your decisions and where you are headed, that you may become a prisoner to the path you are creating for yourself.  In some ways, I entered the rehearsal with expectations for myself as I had pre-planned what I would be doing and thought a lot about it beforehand.   My wise little brother was onto something when, at the age of 12 or 13 he said, “I just try not to expect too much and that way I’m surprised.”

I recorded my improvisations and there were a few interesting motifs or ideas that emerged, such as use of hands in controlled and uncontrolled ways, my right leg getting stuck in and around my left. Repetition also stood out and  I noticed that I would stick with something for a little while and right as it was starting to get interesting, I would drop out in some way–sometimes this was an interesting change and sometimes it was not.  During these moments within the improvisation, I recall thinking, “oh, this repeated movement is interesting.  Now how am I going to resolve this and move on.”  This has been a huge question of mine since graduate school.  An interesting motif that emerged both in movement and in terms of the larger theme of this work was getting caught up in something, getting stuck, going around and around in circles.  Here is perhaps were repetition comes in as well.

As I perused my footage, I began to dissect some of the improvisation and expound upon it by actually trying to create a set phrase of movement.  One particular and very small part of my first improvisation drew me in–I stood with my hands on my hips, then on my thighs, then down at my sides–it was very calculated, precise and delicate.  Today’s rehearsal began by exploring this, but it morphed into less of an exact placement of the hands and more of a fidgeting motion.  From here the phrase continued and began to reveal larger ideas, such as:

  • The awkwardness of waiting for something to happen or to be given to you–this creates self-consciousness and a feeling of being evaluated in some way.
  • Wanting something vs. offering something vs. asking for something.  What are the lines between these things?  If we offer something, do we expect something in return?  If we are offered something and take it, could we lose control of that thing?  Do we always ask for something when we want it or need it, or do we just expect that it will come to us?  How much value do we place on getting (whether it’s material goods, career advancement or emotional support and love)?  How much value do we place on giving?

I know that I myself struggle with wanting to advance in my career and life.  So much so that I often think about gaining and moving forward instead of giving fully of myself where I am now–both in my relationships and in my work life.

Here are clips from last rehearsal–various phrases that are becoming more set, as of now.  Sorry for the bad video quality:

Moving forward looking back

•June 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Movement exploration:  First day in the studio this Thursday.  This post expounds upon some improvisations and exercises I will experiment with.  They serve as a skeleton to which I can add or transform into something new.  These are just ideas, which may or may not make sense on paper and may or may not make sense in the studio.  After rehearsal on Thursday, I will respond to the explorations to see what comes up and where they lead.

1.  Move how you expect to move–don’t think about it, let your body go even if you repeat patterns and move in familiar ways.  Move to be comfortable within what you expect of yourself.

2.  Move the unexpected–think about your movement patterns as you dance and consciously make decisions that counter the way you “like” to move.

3.  Explore the essence of how you remember yourself as a child.

4.  Explore the essence of how you feel now

5.  Explore the essence of who you feel you might be in the future.

6.  Explore the essence of who you hope to be in the future.

Critical Response by Liz Lerman

•June 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

On April 11, 2010 I attended Second Sundays in San Francisco–a forum for local choreographers to show work in progress and receive feedback from the community.  I was extremely impressed and touched by my experience here as an audience member.  It’s something that I’ve thought a lot about since.  It actually helped inspire me to think, dialog and formulate new ideas.  I think that as someone who has studied art a bit and made a bit of art I can be too critical at times.  Second Sundays’ adherence to Liz Lerman’s Critical Response model opened my mind and heart to seeing, finding and holding onto what strikes me about a dance.  So that right away I am not looking at what I don’t like, but what I do like.  Even if it might not be apparent to me right away.  I think it is often my habits and aesthetics that can get in the way of seeing.  Not just in viewing dance, but in other parts of my life as well.

“Step One:  Affirmation

It is my sense, that no matter how short the performance, people want to hear what they have just completed has meaning to another human being.  It makes sense, then, that the first response takes the form of some kind of affirmation.  This should not necessarily be “that is the greatest thing ever,” but it does need to be honest and true for the responder.  I like to use words such as “when you did such-and-and it was surprising, challenging, evocative, compelling, delightful, unique, touching, poignant, different for you, interesting,” and many more.

Step Two:  Artist as Questioner

The creator asks the questions first.  The more artists clarify what they are working on and where their own questions are, the more intense and deep the dialog becomes.  It seems that usually the artist has the same questions that those watching do.  When the artist starts the dialog, the opportunity for honesty increases.

Step Three:  Responders Ask the Questions

The responders form their opinons into a neutral question.  So instead of saying, “It’s too long,” a person might ask, “What were you trying to accomplish in the circle section?” or “Tell me what’s the most important idea you want us to get and where is that happening in this piece?”  For many peple, forming a neutral question is not only dificult, but a seemingly ridiculous task if criticism is the point.  I have discovered , though, that the actual process of trying to form opinions into neutral questions is precisely the process necessary to get the questions that matter for the artist.

Step Four: Opinion Time

Let’s say an observer really has an opinion that can’t be stated as a neutral question and this person feels  that the artist really needs to hear it.  In step four the responder asks permission to state an opinion: “I have an opinion about the costumes.  Do you want to hear it?” Now this artist may be very interested in hearing about costumes, but not from that person, so they can say no–or yes–or not now but later.  In this process, the artist can control this moment.  This is the one place in the process where people can actively offer suggestions.  One simply says, “I have an opinion on a direction you could go in, would you like to hear it?”  Again, the artist can say yes or no.  It is curious to note that often during this opinion time, people choose to do more affirmation.  Usually by this time, so much has been discussed that there is not too much left to be said.”

–Liz Lerman

child vs. adult

•May 30, 2010 • 1 Comment

My youngest brother graduated from college this year.  He’s about 8 years younger than me so I remember very clearly when he was born.  I remember holding him, taking care of him, playing with him.  The fact that he is now a college graduate entering the same work force that I’m in suddenly makes him seem very grown up.  He is grown up.  He would probably be embarrassed that I am writing this, but I have always thought of him as a little boy and while I knew he would grow up and have witnessed this gradual process, I am still surprised at how big he is.  How adult.  But when I look at him, I still see the little two year-old with tiny curls on the top of his head.  This must be some small scale version of what parents see when they look at their child.  I look at Sam and see an adult, but I also see the little boy version of him at the same time.  People grow up sooner than you ever thought would be possible. I grew up faster than I ever thought would be possible.  Sooner than expected.

I will be 31 next month.  My sister had a baby a couple years ago.  I am in this kind of in between space where I relate to being a younger person and even a kid, but “real” adulthood is right around the bend.  If not, already here.  Today, as I was walking to the store, I thought about how when my parents would refer to their childhood or tell me stories, it literally seemed like an inconceivably long time ago, another lifetime ago.  It was another lifetime ago!    But as I approach this bend in the road, I realize that a lifetime is not as long as I thought it was or would be and that there is no clear line between childhood and adulthood.  How I feel internally now is very similar to how I felt internally as a child.  I didn’t expect this to be the case as a little girl, looking ahead to my future.  I thought of my future self as almost a completely different person–like someone in the movies because I couldn’t conceive of myself aging beyond a couple of years.

Time passes by quickly and we grow up quickly.  But growing up doesn’t change the essence of who we are.  That stays consistent I think.  I still feel like a kid because that’s what I was first.