Ugh and Phew

For a while now, I’ve been struggling to blog about my experience recreating the first part of Katelin’s piece for our 2011 show In. The piece began with a lovely trio that shows the relationship between, and the impact of, a mother who favors one daughter while pushing the other away. I always felt the story was told so well, so when it turned out I’d be recreating it for Chemical Peel, I was torn. It worked in its original form so what was I to do with it? 
I started by changing the music, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to change anything if the music stayed the same. I started watching the video on mute while listening to music until I found something that seemed to work.
I also wanted to expand the story into a new direction. Katelin’s piece focused on the neglected daughter in various stages of life, but I thought I could follow a different thread. Being a mother myself I am always asking to what extent will my relationship with my son and the behavior I model affect his development. I am interested in how children really learn a definition of the world from parents at a young age; how we present it to them is what they believe, at least for a very long time. If parents present a world of love and acceptance that is what children will seek out and expect and live, yet if parents only show them relationships that are hurtful and fractured children will not know how to build relationships that are not only loving but also caring.
So I came to my first rehearsal with new music, old phrases, and a new direction, and I tried to put it together. Many things worked, but many more did not, so I struggled to push on, hoping that once finished I could look back with a critical eye and clean and alter a bit here and there.
Fast forward to last Sunday. A tradition at Motus is the “Feedback Session.” We have at least one for every show, and it is a time when we show our work in progress and get feedback from the other dancers as to which things are working and which are not. One of the things I love about Motus, is the relationship between all of us. I’ve blogged about this before, but we are very good at open and honest communication in a way that I rarely experience outside of the studio. And so it was in an open and candid dialogue that I heard from my peers that my piece was just not working (Ugh). That feeling didn’t last long. I wasn’t hurt by this, in fact I was a bit relieved. I’d clearly been working too hard in the wrong direction, and I was so thankful to hear it from someone else. It was as if they gave me the license to start over and loosen the bonds that had been holding me too tightly to my original plan (Phew).
I spent the rest of that evening searching for new music, and most of the next day planning/structuring/choreographing the new piece. In the end, I’ve kept very little of the original movement. I had struggled with letting things go, with changing without undoing, with recreating yet paying homage to the original. Now I realize that letting something go is not a criticism, that as we recreate we are given a starting point, and that this starting point can take a new direction. Like starting from the trunk to find a flower on a tree, there are many branching points, and each one brings us closer to one particular flower, yet further from the rest. I need to stay on my branch instead of leaping over to the next one. I’ll leave that to the squirrels!


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