all the little things that are nearly them

Solo Input:
A space for faculty, colleagues, family, and friends to post up to 8 counts of phrase material, a theme/concept, images, written/spoken text, notation, or other inspirational input for the creation of a solo work that I will choreograph and perform in my final MFA Concert in Spring 2011.  Source material is open to interpretation and the emergent nature of the creative process.  Through this site, I can also comment on the way in which I explore and utilize the contributors input.  I hope to gain a better sense of the ways in which information is processed in creative pursuits and to make transparent the bridge between rehearsal exploration and performance product for contributors and audience members.

Dear Maree-
I wrote the following pros in reflecting upon my final MFA Project “The Anathema Project.” I thought this might be a source of inspiration in your process of generating material:  “There once was a young and shy little boy (more girl than anything) who saw the world through a looking glass – raw and open. In a moment of stillness he yearned and ached to plummet into darkness and engender the depths of compassion. As he so desperately fell away, a dull and wrinkled draping caressed the face of an ephemeral shadow,” echoed the burning giraffe as it blazed its spine beyond the cold blue desert on the far edge of consciousness.  Feel free to use this in way you see fit. Your project sounds absolutely fabulous. I respect your artistry and have no doubt in your creative process. Trust away…All my best, Eran-

Susan Petry says:
March 30, 2010 at 6:20 pm 
i am going to send you via email a pdf of a scan of notes from a solo I made in 1987. The notes are a sketch of the floor pattern of the solo, drawn for the benefit of the lighting designer. the numbers on the sketches refer to the “phrases” in the dance – phrases of movement literally taken from phrases of a journal entry. The solo was titled “Confidences”. Perhaps this floor pattern will live on in some mash up way? I can send you the journal/score too if you want but probably TMI. Sorry, i don’t know how to upload a pdf to your site? check your email.

MJM wrote @ March 30, 2010 at 10:45 pmJust sent you a Motif score for your consideration.
Will also contribute some kind of text along the lines of Butoh-fu.

Lynn wrote @ March 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm
just listened to a talk radio show on the relationship of man , nature, and god. the idea was that god gives morality or ethics, nature does not . but nature may make us feel closer to god at times. is man reverting to the worship of nature over god? If man did not exsist than what is the point of nature or the natural world. Is the natural world there for the use and enjoyment of man ? and if we begin to worship nature over god what happens to our morality and ethics. provacative questions. don’t know if this is useful to you . but there it is.

Lynn wrote @ March 31, 2010 at 3:54 pm
as far as pure dance goes you know that i like graceful movement . senuous movement . an obvious point or story or idea. and a diversity of music. i am mostly a traditionalist in my thinking and enjoyment. i believe in traditon as tevia sings in fiddler on the roof.

Hi Maree,
Wanted to send something. This has been sitting around for a while. Maybe interesting, maybe not. Happy studio. xo, Jonelle
A theatre woman
after 30 years accepts an award
Her clothes no longer fit
She wears leggings
Woman, woman
she cannot escape
her bovinity, her
elastic chew, dull punches
sending dust up in puffs
from dough
her voice laid down in confidence:
like jewels in ash over coals.
How much of the evolution of an art
is about economy?
Her drink sacrificed
to ring the table
I read
instructions for moving your bones
separate from, then together with, the muscle,
all warming under the skin
the effect is a semi-solid: the space,
near gelid, the body, of a single solution
I see
in the round
a theatre-goer mouthing the words
as I thickly sift
the batting wrapping my there-ness
I am
a woman alone
sniffing the lids of spice jars

Marissa wrote @ April 4, 2010 at 6:12 pm
I am going to give you some objects. Once I make them. Give me some time.
I love you and I am actually taking classes in your department and I still don’t see you! Wah!
take care,

Erik wrote @ April 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm
I’ve recently discovered the poems of Saul Williams. I’ve listed 3 below:
Two autumns
and I have not
changed enough
I don’t trust the man
that i am becoming
he seems too much
and seldom is
i simply stopped
writing of truth
when my truths
no longer sounded

Heather Baur wrote @ April 5, 2010 at 12:49 am
I guess I have been a little timid to write anything. I was not really “clear” what I was suppose to do or say or how to go about it. So I steared clear. But than I got this friendly post, a little nudge and you know what?!? I am rather excited to be posting. Although, I am still doubting what it is I “should” be saying. I suppose that is the point.  Anywho, I find inspiration usually while I am driving and I start daydreaming. Colors, textures, sound, movement. Things usually float around in my head for a few days, than I will say my thoughts outloud to someone (usually not mking sense at that point). I find this helps to allow the idea to manifest, allow the universe to help you out with it. My most favorite thing is catching myself creating movement in the middle of my room or the kitchen. So strange how movement jst literally takes me over. I find creating small snippets of movement that feel so natural on ur body can be more powerful than busting out tons of material for the sake of material. Try going to the studio and giving urself only lke 10 mins. Use all the above stragies before you get there and practice jst those few moves. You mght jst suprise urself. Hope this helps frick.. Love and Light!! HB

Motif Score from Michael J. Morris:
Laban Motif Score

Abby’s Word Selections from Posts:
Build brightness,
Cinanmon swirl, lighting a cigarette and building brightness.
Step right, circle left arm back with claw.
A woman along sniffing the lids of spice jars.
Sad, lonely older woman opening things she’s not supposed to, but sneaking it.
I don’t trust the man that I am becoming.
Nudge with the whole body.
Laugh with your fingers.
Laugh with your guts.
Go down, down, down.

you guts

Lisa’s Word Selections from Posts:
build brightness
mason jars
cold blue desert
find the edges

Maree’s Word Selections from Posts:
Your fingers
your guts
light your cigarette
elastic chew
i am a woman alone sniffing the lids of spice jars
i don’t trust the man i am becoming.

Movement Material from Noa Zuk:

Movement Material from Susan Hadley:

Image from Betsy Miller:

Maree says:

The studio felt less lonely today. Aspects of the creative process can sometimes feel isolating or can leave me feeling somewhat trapped within the confines of my own mind. Having a folder full of input from others helped to dissolve that feeling; it felt more as if I were interacting with someone in the room. Michael’s Laban score reminded me how quickly a “new language” can erase itself from my memory. At first, I felt attached to trying to recall the symbols exactly. About halfway through the reading of this information I remembered that I was in charge of the situation and that interpretation was at my discretion. While replaying recordings of the explorations I was noting tendencies in timing, quality, the “held” nature of my movements, and draw towards gesture. I read through Eran’s prose and underlined the following: “raw and open,” “stillness,” “dull and wrinkled draping,” and “cold blue desert.” Raw and open led me work with gestures related to the mouth, opening the mouth; it made me think fresh, flesh, not manicured, raw meat, the inside of a grapefruit, uncut versions, blunt, in your face. Lynn’s writing regarding “tradition” crept in while I was moving with Eran’s thoughts and I ended up tacking on ballet-esque material. My mother’s definition of tradition related to dance being story ballet or more narrative/recognizable popular dance forms. Finally, SVPP’s Confidences floor patterns. The words “ear to floor open up again” caught my eye and I traced the floor pattern with my ear while pushing myself across the floor. Towards the end of the rehearsal, I found myself questioning the validity of working through a process like this, again. Lately, this seeps into most of my investigations, which makes me question why I recently feel the need to ask.

MFA Project:  Rehearsal/Labs
Spring Concert 2011:  insert title
Spring Quarter Improvisation Course
Backstage improv warm up on opening night

MFA Concert April 2011:  here, then, us and the other, an evening of work by Kristen Jeppsen Groves, Teoma Naccarato and Maree ReMalia
all the little things that are nearly them
Dress Rehearsal image


Autumn 2010 rehearsal/lab:  Ding and Fling Duo
Performers:  Fiona Lundie and Abigail Zbikowski
Photos taken by Maree ReMalia

Spring 2010 rehearsal/lab:  abbyface
In order to create continuity between rehearsal/labs and to try and better/expand/deepen the way in which I direct movement explorations, I decided to use some of the same improvisational structures, phrase work, and directives in a solo with Abigail Zbikowski.  Prior to the informal showing we met for three, two-hour rehearsals.  The original inspiration to create a solo with Abby was inspired by Rod Stewart’s “Cindy’s Lament,” the guitar and instrumentals in the song reminded me of her as music.  We started out playing with geometry in the body, crossings or intersections with body parts, and focus.  Then we layered in elements of explorations from Penetrating and Permeating rehearsals:  working with the “Yes Let’s” score, but instead of a group agreeing with one person’s suggestion, Abby gave herself verbal directives (i.e. “Abby, go to the corner,” “Abby, jump up and down,” “Abby, tap your toes”).  She also created her version of a Laban score I had written for our class last winter.  I taught her the phrase that I had also taught the cast in P&P.  One of the directives we had used in a rehearsal in P&P was to “dance as hard as you can” (completely open to interpretation), Abby also did this, which shows up about 3/4 of the way through the piece.  What is intriguing to me is the vastly different approaches and interpretations and enactments of the directives, between Abby and the P&P cast, as well as between all of the cast members of the P&P cast.  Each being entirely fascinating.  I think it exposes my underlying values related to individual voice and experience in relation to others, the desire to embrace or make a space to reveal plurality, and to find range in expression and experience.

Pile Up included an informal showing of abbyface at The Ohio State University, June 2010.

Spring 2010 rehearsal/lab: Penetrating and Permeating
Explorations with an all male cast.
Pile Up included an informal showing of Penetrating and Permeating at The Ohio State University, June 2010

Photos of Penetrating and Permeating by Tessa Anton, from Pile Up

Rehearsal 1, 3/30/10
Getting accustomed to a different climate.  The tone of the space was much more subdued than last quarter’s lab.  I recall last quarter being like a circus from the get go, this quarter feels slightly more reserved.  Of course, this is not a judgement, but a notation.   I perceived an invisible tension stemming from an unknown source.  Does this have anything to do with the fact that this is a cast of all men/males?  We struggled to define these terms at the close of rehearsal.  How to identify these terms and how to identify oneself seems elusive for some, clear for others.  When I was speaking with Bebe about the rehearsal and identity questions, she reflected that it sounded like a question of who is in the room.  We experimented with sensory exercises related to traveling substances in the body that would shift between extreme heat and cold, working with miniscule movement and larger more aggressive qualities.  One of my favorite exercises is the focus walk that we did with Nik Haffner last year.  Everyone stands shoulder to shoulder in a line and they have ten minutes to walk from one side of the room together trying to sense the time and maintaining their spacing together.  It is such an opportunity to see individuals negotiating within a group.  While everyone is doing the same action, there are multiple ways in which each person approaches and executes something as simple as walking.  Some interesting material grew out of a mirroring exercise and a witnessing/catching exercise where one group of men would observe another improvising with sensory or imagery scores and try to catch/remember movements or qualities.  Then the observers would move in response to what they observed.  Trying on others movements became part of this exploration.  Each member of the group shared/exposed a birthmark, scar, or sensitive area of the body.  I regret having the rest of the group imprint an image on an inner organ.  An example of the good intentions of an idea not necessarily having a positive outcome in reality.  My thought had been sharing something vulnerable and cultivating some kind of sensitivity.  I fear that instead (and I know for at least one cast member) I caused a traumatic experience.  Hopefully, this will be one of those learning experiences for me.  I look forward to tomorrow’s rehearsal, making developments, more discussion, taking the focus walk outside to the oval and experimenting with Going to the Wall.

recent projects investigating all male casts, issues of identity, gender, or relationship:

Article: Gaze and the Gays, Hammad Ahmed:

Articles:  Dance Magazine:  The Gender Issue:  You are What You Think
Women Ballet Directors, A Walk on the Wild Side, All-Girl Groups, Fear of Men in Tights, He Said/She Said

Rehearsal video footage on the Oval, 4/6/10
Focus Walk draws an audience

Flip Video creates a collage from 4/6 Oval clips

From 4/6/10
On Tuesday we started rehearsal on The Oval.  Or,  come spring, OSU’s “beach.”  You will find bodies bearing bikinis, bare chests, frisbees, dogs, music, and picnics taking over the grassy field.  To me, the most striking quality of this area are the brick walkways that spoke through the grass to converge in the center of the space.  I wanted to build from the Focus Walk that we did last week and also tack on an element of the “Notice What You Notice” exercise we did in Current Issues.  Each member of the cast started at the end of a spoke to walk toward the center of The Oval.  Their task was to try to walk with each other in the same pacing, so they arrived in the center at the same time; meanwhile, noticing what they noticed.  Some of them maintained a very direct focus forward using their periphery vision to maintain a connection to the others, while some felt free to take in their surroundings.  It was quite striking and what I had not anticipated was that this activity would draw such an obvious audience.  Bystanders were approaching the cast to ask them what they were doing, an entire art class sketching a tree turned to watch, a woman started taking photographs, and a handful of people were speculating what might happen once the group arrived in the center.  For some, it seemed that this was a lovely visual experience and unnameable in that it did not appear to be what most consider dance, yet, a group of 9 men were clearly on a mission of some kind.  Others, I sensed were slightly threatened by this demonstration.  I could hear some men whispering about whether or not to run into the center of the circle and start taking all of their clothes off.  I had this incredible urge to invite some of the onlookers to join in the activity.   What was also interesting to me was the anxiety this activity  brought up for some of the cast members.  Either feeling as if they had to stay true to the exercise or questioning if it was being done correctly, being watched, etc. Watching and experiencing this event made me consider the power of groups, groups doing something uniform, groups doing something uniform of which the direction may not be known to viewers.  I sensed a genuine curiosity and also suspicion and skepticism.  Again, I had an overwhelming urge to try and engage with onlookers after all the men arrived in the center.  After we returned to the studio, we worked with a hand brushing contact exercise where individuals walk and catch another person’s back to brush him to the floor.  Laughter of course.  Also when they were touching fingertips.  I am curious about this laughter and what lies on the other side of it or inside of it.  We experimented with partnered and trio improvisations where one person would begin to improvise and the other(s) would try to “assist” him in whatever movement he was doing, while also considering the group composition and maintaining a relationship to self/other.  I struggled with whether or not to demand group members to adhere to the activity or allow the exploration to unfold, evolve, devolve.  On this particular day I allowed things to shift.  I am noticing I like to see where things go, watch things for a relatively long time before I intervene or interject my thoughts.  At one point during the rehearsal, the entire cast was bent over , moving their hands across the contours of their own legs when I called out a directive and all 18 eyes immediately shot up staring at me.  It was quite intimidating.  An expectant gaze, gaze of men, different than what I have experienced in a rehearsal of women.  I could not name what or why, but just note that it was different and a little overwhelming.  Throughout the process, I am also becoming aware of the tenderness involved, as well as the force and power in energy.  There is a listening that is trying to happen and I think we are also still trying to build a trust in the group.  After reading some of the articles that I posted, I am questioning my role, the gaze or lens through which I am looking, what I am deciding to use as choreographic material, how we are mining or discovering new movement, the way in which I am asking questions and facilitating.  How does the group feel about being directed in this particular way?  What are their expectations of a director?  A female director?

Potential artist to follow for my comp question:

Reflections from weeks of 4/13 and 4/20:
After completing my comp question, the paper titled:  Male Visibility:  Adoration, Aggression, and Androgyny, I feel I have gained all new insights into female choreographers creating work with male dancers.  It was fascinating to trace the arc of men in theatre and dance in the western world from 15th century England, to 19th century romantic era in classical ballet, to 20th- 21st century modern dance in America and Europe.  Thinking of the way in which the male dancing body was presented, represented, depicted, portrayed, enacted in relation to the shifting times was so insightful and revealing in terms of surfacing stereotypes, social norms, gender representations, and the transgressive nature of dance (once again).  The very fact that men were re-introduced to the stage after their dismissal and cloaking with black suit attire in the 19th century, when their “gaze” was focused on dainty ballerinas because it was no longer acceptable for a man’s gaze to rest upon another man, let alone see two men in relation to each other or in contact with one another.  Looking at the work and representations of the male dancing body in the choreography of Martha Graham, Pina Bausch, and Bebe Miller I was able to view an evolution in how men have been portrayed in the field of modern/contemporary dance that was reflective of their respective eras.  Comparing the love triangles and male stoicism  and objectification by the female in Graham’s work to the consciously crafted violence and aggression in Bausch’s dances, and finally the interchangeability of movement material between men and women in Miller’s work, I observe the slow democratization of the male dancing body.  Expectations have been challenged, exaggerated, and made elusive through their work.  It helps me to situate (sorry for this academia term creeping in) my creative interests and intentions with this all male cast within a spectrum of work.  I am able to better articulate my reasoning for trying to engage with these particular dancers in a wide range of experience/exploration that honors their individual qualities, tendencies, and capacities.  I want an audience to witness a group of men ‘being’ what they are in their various ways of being and interacting with one another, so that it is representative of this particular group and helps us to see beyond what is generally accepted or prescribed in terms of sex and gender.  I think in a larger sense, in my recent explorations and choreographic/creative process interests, I want to expose or reveal what lies beneath the surface within the group-as individuals and communally, and to broadcast a range of experience that allows us to move outside the limitations of our self-imposed or socially, culturally, politically imposed boundaries.  To be ourselves and show ourselves in multiplicity.

Winter 2010 rehearsal/lab:  Within a Formal Circumstance
Photograph of Cast: Within a Formal Circumstance pre-show state

Rehearsal photos by Michael J. Morris, performance photos by Joda Lee

Youtube Video of Saturday evening Winter Concert performance, March 2010, Videography by Lindsey Caddle LaPointe:

Youtube Video of Saturday evening Winter Concert performance, March 2010, Videography by Daniel Holt, shot from the wing, stage left:

BlipTV Video of Friday evening Winter Concert performance, March 2010, Videography by Lauren Smith:

Youtube Video of informal work in process showing of Within a Formal Circumstance, February 2010:

As part of my MFA Project I am conducting quarterly rehearsals/labs that utilize improvisational structures (inspired by Dance Theater, Action Theater, Theatre of the Oppressed, Authentic Movement, the Gaga “movement language,” Improvisational Technologies, Body-Mind Centering, Voice Work, etc.), which will culminate in the final product in the form of a performance piece.  The Winter Quarter exploration includes eight very generous and risk-taking participants, with which I am fortunate to work.    My role is to act as facilitator taking creative input from the group.  I am interested in seeing the individuals through the work.  Our piece will be performed in the Winter Concert in Sullivant Hall, March 4-6 at 8pm.  I have invited the participants to comment/reflect on their experience through the rehearsal process.

During our first rehearsal we returned to some of the initial explorations during the Dance Theater lab.  First, the group stood shoulder to shoulder and did an eight minute “meditation walk” (inspired by Nik Haffner).  Their task was to cross the room, maintaining their line and shoulder to shoulder status in eight minutes, while recalling their first week and a half of Winter Quarter during the first half of the walk, then letting one thing or event go during the second half.  Next, the dancers began exploring varying levels of sensitivity in response to touching the neck with their fingertips.  They were then invited to imagine the sensations throughout their bodies.  Throughout the exploration, they were invited to range from extreme gentle pressure to an aggressive or groping sense of touch and allowing their body to respond through movement.  Then the group was instructed to imagine that fingertips were touching them from the inside of their bodies with varying degrees of sensitivity and pressure, which created a completely different bodily response from my observer viewpoint.  I was intrigued by each dancer’s individual choices, movement qualities, and style of interaction; primarily, I was drawn to watch extremes and contrasting elements in movement quality, structure, and relationships.  We also warmed up the voice with a round of “Ridiculous Opera” (a la Carol Swann from Moving on Center).  In duets and trios dancers could choose when to enter the operatic scene to join in singing about that days technique class.  This exercise segued into practicing individual readings from the Flarf poem, “I Google Myself.”  Each dancer selected an unknown “character” through which to read their lines from the poem. The lab/rehearsal became game-like as they experimented with interrupting each other during their “speeches” or moving between dancing and speaking.  Again, it was the range and unique individual choices that drew my attention, as well as the range in my response to what I was viewing; I was drawn into sensual or more violent moments and also laughed out loud.  In the end, I offered them a score/structure to work through sequentially, but within the score, they were making independent choices in regard to the quality and timing of movement and speaking.  I am wondering how to maintain the impulsive or spontaneous quality of the work as we progress toward the “product” end of the spectrum.

Comments on the process from Alexis Del-Sol’s blog:

Veronica Dittman-Stanich’s writing response to an informal viewing ofWithin a Formal Circumstance:
Veronica’s review:
I love being invited to rehearsal.  I love feeling like a privileged insider; I love the absence, or decrease, in the distance that a proscenium and lighting and make-up create between the dancers and me; and I love being in on something cool while it’s still unfolding.  Lucky me, going to Maree’s rehearsal.
Seeing the dancers set up, I became suspicious, skeptical.  I’ve seen enough dance pieces wherein the women wear ball-gowns or prom dresses to know what’s going to happen:  they’re going to disrupt the lady-like veneer by doing rough stuff.  That again, like ordering C-26 off the Chinese menu.
But then, no.  It wasn’t that.  While they do end up scrambling across the floor and tussling with each other, it’s not C-26.  I can’t tell you yet what it is, because it’s still becoming itself.  What can I tell you?  There is authenticity that borders on theatrical nakedness.  There are bold, funny performers.  There’s a bucket of candy and provocative spoken text and aggressive competition.  There is tension building between “camps” of characters, and I’m not suspicious anymore.  I’m in; I want to know what happens next.

Review of Saturday Performance
by David Smith
“Who are you and what are you doing?” – The Search for Self in Cyberspace
By David Smith
The first half of the OSU Winter Dance Concert closed with a new piece, Within a Formal Circumstance, created by Maree ReMalia in collaboration with her performers, Amanda Byars, Alexis Del Sol, Fiona Lundie, Rachel Riggs Leyva, Eric Nordstrom, Rashana Smith, Ariana Williams and Abigail Zbikowski.  Instead of music, the piece features spoken dialog from “I Google Myself,” a poem by Mel Nichols, as well as improvised speaking parts.  The performers were costumed in strangely proportioned suits or gowns of the prom dress/bridesmaid variety.  The costumes, along with the crazy hairstyles and the presence on stage of folding chairs and a lectern are a clear signal that Circumstance is a choreographed theatrical performance instead of a traditional dance piece.  And what a crazy performance it is!  There is constant running, diving, convulsing, falling out of chairs, candy thrown to the floor to be gathered up and thrown down once again, and during most of this entirely unpredictable action there are bits of spoken dialog about searching for yourself on Google.  Very quickly I got the sense that the characters were at best confused and at worst entirely insane.

The piece opens with Lundie and Nordstrom engaging in what appears to be a choreographed “poking contest” that devolves into chasing around the perimeter of the stage.  The sequence called to mind being “poked” or “tagged” on Facebook.  Next, Smith, Del Sol and Zbikowski go to the lectern, one after the other, each delivering lines from “I Google Myself” in distinctly different styles.  Smith spoke with the fiery delivery of a charismatic preacher rising to a crescendo before she abruptly stops and sits down again.  Del Sol’s recitation of the poem reminded me of somebody speaking vehemently on behalf of a cause, perhaps at a rally.  Finally, Zbikowski’s performance was like watching an extremely intoxicated and delusional spokeswoman in a local television commercial for a carpet store.

Byars had an intriguing role.  She was the only performer to remain silent throughout the performance, yet her facial expressions and body movement served to signal emotional changes in the piece and provided a visual focal point for the many disparate actions played out around her.  Her royal purple prom dress, tiara, crazy bird’s nest hair gave off an aura of insanity that was enhanced by her unpredictable movements.   She hikes up her dress to peer underneath as if searching for voices as other performers deliver lines from the poem.  Later, she has the coy look of a prankster as she picks up her bucket and moves to center stage, suddenly throwing handfuls of candy to the floor that are immediately pounced on by Nordstrom, Lundie, Riggs Leyva and Williams.  In a sequence that I especially appreciated, Zbikowski and Williams fight for possession of a folding chair and Byars mirrors this conflict with convulsions that end in her collapse to the floor.

The bucket that Byars hugs so closely is a key element in Circumstance.  Much of the performance involves candy spilling onto the stage and performers diving to gather the candy and return it to the bucket as quickly as possible. With “I Google Myself” as the soundtrack, I saw the bucket as a metaphor for our digital personhood.  In today’s online universe our identity is fragmented into pieces that exist for different purposes, with different user names, in so many different electronic locations.  We leave little remnants of our existence throughout cyberspace – financial information, purchase histories, travel itineraries, posts to blogs and discussion forums, which movies from Netflix we liked, our Ebay rating, updates on social networking sites.  Are the pieces of candy these digital fragments of an individual?  In Circumstance, whenever the candy is spilled on the stage floor, the same performers repeatedly stop whatever they are doing and succumb to an irresistible compulsion to gather up the candy and put it back in the bucket.  Gathering these pieces of candy and putting them back in the bucket is like doing a Google search for ourselves and collecting all our digital fragments into one place.

As the performance ended I was left to ponder the challenges of controlling and maintaining an identity when our relationships are increasingly conducted through electronic bits of binary code.  As the house lights came up for intermission there was an immediate commencement of much conversation among the audience about the piece as people reviewed the crazy actions of the performers and examined the meaning of what they just saw.  As a piece that was visually entertaining, crazy funny and also thought-provoking, Within a Formal Circumstance was a crowd-pleasing success.

Post Performance Thoughts and Conversation with David and Rashana:
Maree, when you were talking about the challenge of simultaneously creating art and trying to sense how an outside observer would interpret the piece you made me think of the Heisenberg uncertainty principal in physics. The Heisenberg uncertainty principal states that it is impossible to know pairs of physical properties (specifically the velocity and position of particles) with absolute precision.  The more precisely you try to measure one property, the less precise will be your knowledge of the other.  I asked whether there was an “uncertainty principal” for artists.
The Heisenberg uncertainty principal is diametrically opposed to the concept of determinism, which holds that all phenomena are causally determined by an unbroken series of interconnected prior events.  Determinism postulates that the universe can only have one possible state of existence at any given point in time.  Classical physics, built upon the foundations of Newtonian laws of motion, is essentially deterministic.  In classical physics, randomness is merely the manifestation of incomplete knowledge of initial conditions.  Absolute knowledge of initial conditions should produce absolutely certainty of outcomes.  Heisenberg’s revolutionary idea was that beyond a certain point, uncertainty was not a failure of examination but a fundamental property of the universe.
Applied to artistic endeavors, the uncertainty principal might mean it is impossible to be equally involved in the creative process and the critical process at the same time.  Does the search for meaning in art distance the observer from the experience of art?  Art exists inside a physical universe subject to the Heisenberg uncertainty principal so the principal must have some sort of analogous application to art.  Interesting questions to ponder while consuming margaritas at Mad Mex.

Independent Study with Teoma Naccarato
Project Description:
 Winter Quarter 2009
During Winter Quarter, Teoma and I continued rehearsing our duet, Lead Ocean.  Throughout this process we were fortuntate to recruit Eran Hanlon as our rehearsal director once per week.  He was able to offer insights, ask questions regarding the choreography, and assisted us in giving attention to detail in our movement quality.  I think his presence and commentary helped to add another layer of intensity to the piece.  Teoma and I also rehearsed once per week on our own and ended up shifting the spacing and entrance during the opening and went through a trial and error process experimenting with lifting and partnering options.  Surprisingly, costuming was challenging (I think mainly due to time constraints).  I am learning more about the process of negotiation in collaboration.  For myself, I think I am attempting a new practice of assertion in using my voice–less hesitation.  However, I also recognize my need to choose my words before I share an idea (the hesitation is mostly due to contemplation), but I am starting to wonder if I just need to start talking out my thoughts as they come to me and navigate through them verbally.  We were able to perform our duet in the department’s Winter Concert.  Due to audience interpretation of our props (clothing) we may reconsider their use in future showings of the work.

In addition to rehearsing and performing our duet, we also worked with a wonderful group of undergraduate students (Alex Bowden, Melissa Brenner, Lisa Dietz, and Bernice Lee) using somatic and improvisational scores that focused on group development and individual exploration of movement.  We were attempting to facilitate in a manner that would allow the dancers to make personal connections with the material and  participants.  Teoma and I are still negotiating the act of using set choreography or phrases with improvisation.  I prefer to allow dancers to create movement that is unique to their body, but I have foudn that the process of using improvisation as a tool to create movement requires more time than if I choreograph a dance and teach the movement to the dancers.  However, I question imposing my movement on another dancers body.

Initially, we were focused on using  somatic and improvisational structures to build a group relationship and experiment with the ways in which various improvisational scores facilitated movement or what type of movement was generated by each individual dancer.  During rehearsals we would also discuss what the dancers experienced while engaging with each exercise.  They were very generous in their movement investigations, reflective feedback, and openness to the process.  Toward the end of winter we began experimenting more with composition in preparation for the continuation of our study during Spring Quarter where we will create a group piece with these students.  I found this approach to movement and creating dance material very rich and much more open and investigative in comparison to dances in which I have choreographed the entire piece.  A dialogue and exchange takes place which aligns with my more with my value system in terms of being a collective group.  The lines between dancer-choreographer seem to blur slightly.  This study has also brought into question the definition of choreographer.  Who is credited, etc.? In response to my observations and questions Bebe Miller asked me if a choreographer is someone who just creates steps or comes up with phrases or are they someone who is putting components together, facilitating?  In terms of crediting, it seems I am moving towards choreographing in collaboration with other dancers.

Independent Study with Teoma Naccarato
Project Description:  Fall Quarter 2008

Our independent study was born of a desire to experiment with creative process through exercises inspired by Authentic Movement, Dance Therapy, and improvisational structures. We see this process as a way to deepen understanding of our experiences of living with family members who have Bipolar Disorder. We are reflecting on feelings of anxiety, unpredictability, stigma, guilt, helplessness, anticipation and acceptance. We are examining these themes through our experimental process in order to generate authentic gesture and phrase work for a duet. We also aspire to use this process as a launching point for developing a facilitation model that could support group inquiry and exploration with various populations through the medium of movement. We plan to extend our independent study next quarter to integrate a group of dancers.
During rehearsals we have documented our movement studies by way of video and journals. Early on, we worked on building a connection with one another through structured improvisations. As one exploration, we took turns being a witness and a mover – the witness would observe while the mover followed bodily impulses with her eyes closed. Each of us also developed short phrases, which we have altered, manipulated, and embellished. It was interesting to see similar movement themes and qualities emerging from our individual explorations. We progressed into some contact exercises and improvisation which included: electric space, touch affect, negative space, eye contact, manipulation, and reaction/response. After we had generated movement that we were interested in developing we spent rehearsal time weaving it together through a process of trial and error.
Another essential element of our independent study that we would like to develop farther in the future is our research of societal attitudes towards mental illness, as well as resources and support that are currently available for people and families touched by these issue. This will aid us in developing our creative process and community outreach.

Maree’s Reflections
We began our movement studies keeping our theme very close to our creative process.  I felt that we were able to build a deeper connection with each other, the choreography, and our theme by working in this way. As we developed more of the duet we found ourselves having to devote more time to issues related to time, space, and structure. I have been grateful for the spaciousness and fluid nature of this process. Participating in this study has helped me to begin to imagine a new way of working in rehearsals or environments that foster group inquiry through movement. Due to time constraints and where the process led us, I feel that I did not delve as deeply into readings and research related to support groups or social attitudes related to this topic.  We are continuing our independent study throughout Winter Quarter with an added component of working with a group of undergraduate students.  Our intention is to experiment with our creative process and borrow from choreographers/improvisational structures/sensory awareness exercises that share similar values (i.e. Liz Lerman, Anna Halprin, Augusto Boal, Jess Curtis, Delisa Myles, Liz Faller, Ananya Dance, Action Theater, Body Mind Centering, Laban Movement Analysis,  Contact Improvisation, Authentic Movement, Dance Therapy, etc.).  I am recognizing a challenge in trying to synthesize my technical training and choreographic style with improvisational forms.  Generally, my set choreography tends to be more full bodied, spatially dynamic, and physically rigorous.  I enjoy viewing and having this type of movement experience.   In my explorations with improvisational forms I find that initially, my movement tends to be more introspective, gestural, and emotional, which I find equally enjoyable and valuable. My struggle is how to synthesize these two qualities without “imposing” movement upon myself or other dancers.   This is a point I would like to further investigate during the remainder of our independent study throughout the school year.

Teoma’s Reflections
Our independent study has provided me an open space to work in a process-over-product oriented approach. We meet 2-3 times a week, and in our first eight or so rehearsals we did not set any movement vocabulary or structure, but instead continued our exploration of themes through structured improvisation. By way of this practice I felt new and diverse movement emerging from my body, breaking engrained patterns of creation. I also gained a great connection and awareness of my body and self in relation to Maree, which has improved our ability to listen and communicate with each other in improvisation. I think this connection will translate to an audience in performance. This part of our process could and perhaps should have lasted much longer (for the rest of my life!) This said, the process of structuring and solidifying our material is adding an equally important layer of reflection and synthesis.

Another essential aspect of this process for me has been about valuing and balancing both physical and intellectual inquiry. Our exploration is a real mix of movement improvisation, discussion, journal writing, visualizations and more. I am excited to share this process with other dancers, and outside of the dance community. Like Maree, I feel the need to devote more focus to reading and research about other people’s approaches to creative process and community outreach.
Lead Ocean

-What images, emotions, metaphors or connections arise for you from the piece?

-How do you feel about the various ‘relationships’ in the piece – to each other, to the clothes, to the space, to the audience? What is clear or unclear about them?

-Are there moments in the piece that feel unnecessary or too long? What do you think we could edit out?

-What areas or elements of the piece would you like to see developed more? How and why?


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