It all comes down to this: an entire semester's worth of work into 4 performances. As we prepare to launch into tech week, the Emory Dance Company choreographers (students of the Choreography II class) have each written a few words about their inspiration, their choreographic process, and the development of their works.
As a second-time choreographer, I had to take a more independent approach and draw on everything I learned in Choreography II class last year. As one half of the “Choreographic Laboratory” course, I didn’t have class time to experiment with my peers or receive coaching from an instructor. Instead, I just met with my (endlessly talented) dancers two times each week and shaped my piece with little (but enough!) guidance from others.
This time, I depended on my dancers for support, input and focus whenever we met in the studio; if not for them, there would not have been a choreographic process to speak of. It amazes me how well these dancers can transform a movement phrase into a one-of-a-kind solo and how they can internalize and embody an idea in a way I never thought was possible.
Using my dancers’ expertise and openness, I was able to shape a piece that stayed true to my original ideas/goals, while letting it become something of its own beast. We began with several movement phrases and used them to develop unique, but related, solos, duets and trios. My dancers helped me generate more material than I knew what to do with. Eventually, I fleshed out the most important pieces and wove them together to form a cohesive piece. It was the air of chaos that pervaded my rehearsals (or just my own head) that led to the most illuminating “ah-ha!” moments. Trial and error became the name of my game as I built the bare bones of a piece within the first few weeks of rehearsal, only to take the subsequent three months to edit parts, delete others, rework most things, and enhance it all. It’s been an enjoyable and eye-opening experience, albeit tedious at times.
My hope is that audience members will approach the ideas in my piece in the same way my dancers and I have approached the choreographic process: with openness, creativity, mindfulness, passion and, of course, with a sense of humor.
I look forward to watching my work develop through tech week to see what else I can learn about it, and to see what my dancers can discover in it too. Surely, the choreographic process continues well into show week, because each time the dancers perform, it will be different. If there’s anything I’ve learned about creating a dance piece, it’s that there is always more to find in our work and movement. It’s become clear that the choreographic process endures long after the curtains close.
Don't miss the Emory Dance Company Spring Showcase, Tabula Rasa. Click here for more details.
For more information on the Emory Dance Program, please go to our website.