Monday, June 2, 2008

I've got the dancing blues

I have gone through phases in my dance life, between complete stagnance, and then on the other end of the spectrum when I danced upwards of 25 hours a week (oh, that lovely Humanities Senior Thesis!). By all measure, this is a "time of plenty" in my dance life. I am involved in two sectors of the same company. The first component is paired with a drum ensemble; we perform traditional west-African, Haitian and Carribean dance. The second part of the company is one bent on choreographing and dancing in the Modern style.

Lately, I must tell you, I have been experiencing some difficulty in my enjoyment of dance. I rehearse at least twice a week, and perform at venues in varying levels of grandeur at least every two months (whether it be a small showing at an elementary school, or a blowout at the Art Museum).

And yet, despite a seemingly comfortable schedule, I am, somewhat unsatisfied. Part of this comes from the rehearsal schedule itself, which coincides with great chunks of time in which I could be spending quality time with the man; we rarely see each other during the week (AHA! It wasn't just school!) and so the weekends are spent stealing moments between rehearsal time and running errands.

On top of the scheduling factor is the general upkeep of rehearsal time. It is not well spent. There are far too many breaks for discussion--whether or not it is related to dance. I am guilty in participation, so I must limit my disdain. What truly frustrates me, however, is the time sometimes spent vocalizing our way through the movements, rather than just doing them.

Part of my vexation, I do believe, could be partially assuaged if I were to become more aggressive with my own choreography. I have attempted a few times to introduce new pieces to the group, and for one reason or another I falter. It has to do with lack of confidence and fearing that I am boring the group; however, I absolutely need to get this out of my head. As much as I truly ADORE [most of] the choreography with which I am presented, it is essential to maintain a large amount of diversity and eclectic movement within a dance company. I need to color the repertoire with my choreography.

The latest piece we are working on is to the music of "Dead Can Dance" and, reflecting the cold detachment of the vocals, vaguely depicts the stillness of winter. One of the pieces I attempted to introduce is largely based on summertime feel, and I would like to re-incorporate it now, as a contrast to the winter bit. It's a bit I presented in one of my choreography classes a million years ago, set to "Steppin Razor" (the Sublime version, actually, not Peter Tosh). In addition to this (now I'm gettin too big fer my britches) I'd like to see the group come up with autumn and spring pieces.

Perhaps the seasons are hackneyed, I admit. But a unifying theme through a few of our pieces would be lovely, in my opinion. Besides all that, a little side project of my own might just be what I need to get me out this dance rut. It's unfair to have a "rut" experience in the one activity that is meant to enliven and inspire.

Speaking of inspiration, I thought I'd share something that I enjoyed this evening. I've seen Alvin Ailey Company twice now , and they are beyond magnificent. When all else fails when one is seeking inspiration, youtube search "modern dance" :)

Here's a blurb, first off, from

Alvin Ailey said that one of America’s richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African-American - ”sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.” This enduring classic is a tribute to that heritage and to Ailey’s genius. Using African-American religious music - spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues - this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.

and here's the video link to its dramatic opening piece:

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