For Motus’s upcoming concert Paired Down, I am in the fortunate position of presenting two works. One piece is a new duet, about which I will write at a later date. The other is a resetting of my Syrah inspired, 2010 Pairings piece, and it to this piece that I feel I am bringing a fresh perspective. What began as simply reteaching an old piece to a cast with 3 out of 5 new dancers, has become an exercise in refining, tweaking, retuning, and, hopefully, in the end, improving the final product.
It is interesting how the mind works, or doesn’t work at times. As I created this piece last spring, with the feeling of pressure to simply complete the work, I often closed myself off to the parts that didn’t work for me, in order to move ahead. I often found it difficult to pick up the subtle nuances of Kate Lamont’s wonderfully driving music. Yet this time around, the music is making itself clear not only to me, but to my whole cast, and with this clear scaffold we are able now to fill and layer more movement and enhance the feeling of urgency, the pushing, the driving, the tension that is at the core of this piece.
(Not so) modern technology, in terms of having the video of the original piece on my laptop at every rehearsal, has been a great tool. As I watched and rewatched the video in order to teach the various parts, I could see the piece as a whole, in a way that is sometimes difficult in the studio. From my more removed vantage point, now that the piece is complete, it is easier for me to see the parts that really worked for me and the parts that could work better, and so I bring you Syrah 2011. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed reworking it!!!
This is what I had written a couple of weeks ago, (but never posted) because just after completing my blog, we had our first showing in which we got feedback from our Director Heidi Phillips as well as from the other dancers. These “Fresh Eyes” provided the necessary feedback to take the piece even further. When I’d originally conceived the piece, the first movement that came to mind was a very simple shape, arms down palms up, and the arms pulsing/beating up and down in a very restrained fashion. I fell in love with this because it felt very original to me, as it was quite a stretch from my generally large and flowy movement. I made it a recurring motif, and found variations that I incorporated throughout the piece. As I reworked the piece, I found myself removing a lot of this movement, with the exception of one of the variations. I was still in love with it, and as a result, I wasn’t admitting that it no longer fit. This point was elucidated in one of the first comments I received in the feedback session, and as soon as I heard it I knew it was true. My lovely little motif no longer had a place in this piece. In the subsequent rehearsal, I found a new movement to replace it, and am much happier with the result.
Though in the end, I abandoned the shape I’d grown to love, it made the piece much stronger. In a way, I think retaining the motif was pulling the piece in two different directions, and now it is on a much clearer path. It is such an example of the evolution of art, I don’t think I would have arrived at the same final product without that original idea, yet to realize the piece fully, in the end I had to cut the tethers that tied it down to its creation. Much like a child, I’ve had to let it go and have a life of its own.