I haven’t been posting much on the blog. For a long time this semester, I felt frustrated and disconnected with the choreography. I love dance and expression, but I couldn’t find the motivation for our rehearsal process. I started to lose energy after only half of the three-hour rehearsals. I felt exasperated by repeating one movement over and over. I stood and watched the rest of the company a lot during these rehearsals because I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do with my own body, what I should practice, and what I needed to listen to. I felt inadequate and unhappy, because everybody else seemed to get it. They were practicing small parts over and over and asking questions while I just swam in and out of a dance I couldn’t feel for.
I also had a hard time connecting to the movement. It seemed so arbitrary to me: why would it be important to hold my hand in this particular angle? If we moved slightly differently, the dance didn’t seem like it would be substantially changed. Why did Trisha Brown choose these movements? What made them important? I was so frustrated I nearly stopped taking part in the project. The only thing keeping me involved was that I loved Iréne and since she loved the dancing so much I knew I didn’t want to let her down and I didn’t want to give up looking for a reason for me to like it too.
I started to feel excited when we switched our focus to the Early Works for the YUAG showing. Moving my head down a stick was something I could understand. I had a goal, and I had rules. I worked until I felt comfortable with it. I liked the Spanish dance. I was excited about performing in the Art Gallery, and on the day of the performance I felt inspired by the beauty around me. I felt suddenly like I was truly part of the company, instead of the girl who didn’t have a dancer’s body, who didn’t love dance as much as she should, who didn’t work hard enough, standing in the back of the studio watching other dancers flow in Trisha Brown’s choreography.
After the YUAG showing, I started thinking about my judgment that the choreography was arbitrary. What made the steps in this more progressive style of dance more arbitrary than, say, the choreography of a ballet variation? Why did I spend so much time worrying about copying the other dancers and practicing the way they did? I already know that I learn best by watching and analyzing for a long time before placing the dance on my body. I realized I knew the dance just as well as the rest of the company. I realized nobody cared if I wasn’t the size of a ballerina. I realized I could perform the choreography from the inside out, enjoying and admiring how my limbs move and my muscles pull instead of trying to shove my body into the images I had seen of the teachers and dancers in the Newark video.
After a semester of weariness and dissatisfaction, I was most happy to find that I was proud of this performance. I have a close friend who loves modern dance, and as I danced I knew she was in the audience loving what we were doing, and I knew I connected to the dance because I connected to the other dancers and to myself. The movement finally clicked the week before the performance, and tonight as I started Cranwell with Naomi I felt wonderful and strong.