Rehearsal director Katie Glasner has submitted the following reflections on mastering Twyla Tharp’s choreography:
We’re coming to the end of the Jelly Roll project and reflecting on the process, it’s had its ups and downs – as is the case with every creative process. Restaging an extent work can be done in myriad ways, but it’s rare for dancers to have primary sources before them. The YDT dancers have had time with Sara Rudner and Rose Marie Wright, original creators of the piece and they’ll soon have time with Rika Okamoto, a dancer of recent vintage Tharp material. Jenny and I have brought our individual and committed ways of digging in to the material. Opening up the sections of the piece to audience members will surely introduce many to the 1970’s world of Tharp choreography. This seemingly casual material is anything but casual.
As Elena and Juliette have written, the simplest motions can often be the most challenging and sometimes a hip roll is just that. Just a hip roll. Not an invitation, not a reference to another work. It’s just the femur working its way in the hip socket, the gluteal muscles getting a stretch. On counts 7 and 8. And to the left on those counts.
It’s been most challenging to – and it is for everyone – make peace with the necessity of repetition in order to find ease. Tapper Savion Glover puts it pretty succinctly:
“I try to keep my chops up,” Glover told Jane Goldberg, for Dance Magazine, ‘so I can just be.” You have technique so that you can forget about technique, and say something.”
I think Twyla’s work and all of the dancers who have ever worked with her manifest a quote from Sojourner Truth, “It is the mind that makes the body.”
Just being in any Tharp work takes time. Takes humility. Takes proverbial microscopes to look into movement and those pesky transitions. Takes humor. Takes fortitude. Takes collegiality. And advil probably doesn’t hurt. The intellectual pursuit of any crafted physical motion takes intellectual effort. That effort ultimately lets the dancer just be.
Katie Glasner, NYC, April 28, 2011