And the formal dining room is now the Pilates Studio…

One of the first actions I took on moving to Maine was to purchase a Peak Reformer/Tower conversion unit. Not only was this a way for me to work over the summer and stay connected to my dancing body, I realized that some day I might want to teach in Maine.

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This room is in the middle of the house, downstairs. It was originally a formal dining room and was – from what we can tell – probably the most elegant room in the house. For one thing, it was grain painted: all of the wood trim, molding, baseboards, fireplace mantel – it was all painted to look like either oak or marble. If you enlarge the photo above and look closely, you can see the faux marble painting just below the mantel shelf. There was an extraordinary level of artisanship under layers of second- , third-, and fourth-generation paint. We could get to only hints of it and were not able to save any significant amount of that original work. The room was originally wall-papered; the floor was never finished but covered with a linoleum carpet. There were two antique light fixtures (originally for candles or gas?) and it looked as if they were positioned to hang over the ends of a long table. Each was framed with an ornate plaster escutcheon.

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Starting on high: Don covered the ceiling with pressed tin squares, and re-wired for a single antique light fixture. He added trim to the edge where the walls meet ceiling.  We found the antique wall paper in NYC at “Second Hand Rose” on 5th Avenue (thanks Suzanne and Jon. That place was quirkily out of time: shelves and shelves of rolls of wall paper that the owner had collected from hardware store attics and home storage from across the US! ) Some walls are entirely papered, others partially papered and partially painted with lime wash, which gives texture to the plaster. Yes, Don re-plastered the room – after he stripped all the trim down to the bare wood. This was no mean feat as the trim around the doors is multi-surfaced – like….eight surfaces in flow. Finally, he and his brother, David, pulled up the linoleum, sanded the wide board planks, dug grit and dirt out from between the cracks with a dental tool (I have no idea where that came from….) and pickled and polyurethaned it. Et voilà. We have a Pilates Studio beauteous enough to be a dining room, should we ever decide to carry all that equipment upstairs…..  (not happening!)

and so it goes

One phase of process morphs into another. With live dance, I would be at the stage of rehearsing and fine-tuning in collaboration with the performers in the work. (And I might still be making some major changes!) In film dance, Alex and I are at the stage of sifting and sorting, defining and re-defining this work, starting to cull to form.

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I’ve posted this photo on IG. (Just created a new IG landing: wildgoosechasedance – thinking I’ll use this location to post company work specifically.). It captures something of our shift: one that is grounded in the trajectory we have that lives beside <fleeting> and that is to bring up the extraordinary inside the ordinary. I love this photo, too, for the way it conveys the closely knit collaborative and fluid nature of the work we did together the past week.

Finally – to cap off this adventure – photos of the team!

Two remarkable women with whom to collaborate, and the best PA everrrrrrrrrr.

on watching a dance change

I have a couple of beautiful photos of Kelly. But as process has gone on, I keep forgetting to step out and take photos.

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We’ve been working over the past two days to bring dimension to what Kelly is expressing; fortunate, oh so fortunate to work with an artist who has a wellspring of expressive range.

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Alex and I are moving along the path we have crafted for this dance and at the same time, working to stay open to it, and listen to it intently. It’s not easy. We have a very limited amount of time to gather material. Some time yesterday this dance started to spin subtly on a related idea and, with that, we started to imagine opportunities we had not seen prior to the start of production. Yesterday, late afternoon, with very little time to move outside and capture one such opportunity before the sun set – which meant dropping another option entirely, one we had thought all along we’d shoot – we took a chance and ran with it.

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Along with the core idea of fleeting, one of our partner ideas has been to show the ordinary inside the extraordinary.

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So immensely grateful to be working with two such can-do women.

wild goose chase/the landing

As a quick aside to the film project itself, Don and I have been working to build a residency space for artists and educators here in our village in Maine: wild goose chase/the landing. With enough room in our home to accommodate a number of guests, and the possibility of renting Columbia Falls Union Hall, I can bring in collaborators to develop projects and/or work together with other artists and educators to support their projects or offerings. Happily, I can create opportunities for exchange with our community. Last night we did just that. Don rigged a screen, David loaned his projector to the cause, and Alex, Kelly and I shared work on film – in its various forms – art, social justice, entertainment. Showing was followed with conversation. I know I use this phrase often to describe experience and while I don’t want to overuse it, when it works, it works: pure pleasure to engage in this way!

first day of shooting

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From raindrops to clothes.

Long day. Process is just hard work. Grit. Go for it. See what is possible. Stop. Back up. Try again. Keep trying to connect the dots. Even if they don’t form a linear path. Especially if they don’t form a linear path! Three steps forward. Two steps back.

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Kelly and I warmed up this morning. Started building vocabulary and phrase work at 9:00am. We all moved from collective ideas – ideas to action. We started filming around 12:30pm. Can I just say….it’s cold in Maine!  Kelly is a champ; a can-do artist. A professional. We can laugh and we can go.to.work.  Pure pleasure to be in process with this woman. And Alex on camera – masterful. Pleasure squared.

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We finished the day in the river. I’d like to say this was as picturesque as it appears to be …and it was really an adventure in mud. But truly: an adventure to be savored.

This way of being and becoming works.

 

imagery and metaphor

I’ve been thinking about the possible distinctions between metaphor and imagery, as related to dance. I hear a lot about abstraction in dance, generally used to indicate that a dance is not narrative. The truth is, anything apart from lived experience is abstraction. The vocabularies of spoken language are abstract. Though largely agreed on both in content and because of the way a particular language is constructed, words are nevertheless less abstract. They point toward meaning. And while eventually we have the experience of knowing them, not having to stop and define them, they represent ideas and actions, from the simple to the complex. All dance languages are abstract, too. So if I want to “read” dance, a far less agreed upon language, I either “read” it at a visceral level, or I “read” it cognitively. Thus I have been interested to try, in constructing the language of any given dance, to steer (at least to some degree) viewers in one direction or the other.

I am going to use these photos to see if I can explain what I think we are working with as we try to parse how we deliver the ideas of this film.

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First of all, as an aside, I love this photo of Alex soaking up the moment before we got started yesterday. It was one of those Maine days that began with sun even if it didn’t end that way. And our state is exploding with color at this point: there is so much joy in the vibrancy we are experiencing here from the landscape. It’s an extraordinary year for autumn and the colors are absolutely saturated.

More to my point above, I can look at this photo and conjure [cognitive] interpretations. My first thought was “Wow, ha! The top of screen door creates a row of snow cones.” (I could “see” them in my mind’s eye in a holder on top the counter of a snow cone trailer.) Don looked at this and immediately noticed the reflection in the door. What looks like continuous green grass, from the left edge of the screen door, over, is actually a double of the yard. Alice Through the Looking Glass! I can see what in my imagination is a parallel universe. And use my imagination to enter it.

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In this photo, a view into the backyard, one we plan to visit in various ways as part of the film, I looked at the clothes line and I thought “Those raindrops look like tears.” [simile]

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I’m bringing back a different photo of the same curtain. I’ve been obsessed over the past two years watching this curtain move in the breeze, and photographing it. I can feel the fleetingness of the moment in my body; I don’t have to think it. The image moves through me at a visceral level; I sense it. I don’t think it.

That may or may not be someone else’s experience. But these are the distinctions that interest me in the dance making I do.

I have to add one more photo. The geese found us yesterday. The wild goose chase is on….

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fleeting

fleet·ing
/ˈflēdiNG/
adjective
lasting a very short time

Alex and I have been in conversation and ongoing research for this project for almost two years now. We share a love of literature, a resource for ideas and structures with which we can then map our own pathways. One of our “ways in” to creating a foundation for this film was through Ruth Ozeki’s work A Tale for the Time Being, a novel that deals with notions of time. Here is one of many passages we are holding close. It comes from Dögen Zenji, Uji (1200-1253), founder of Japanese Soto Zen. Do not think that time simply flies away. Do not understand “flying” as the only function of time. If time simply flew away, a separation would exist between you and time. So if you understand time as only passing, then you do not understand the time being. To grasp this truly, every being that exists in the entire world is linked together as moments in time, and at the same time, they exist as individual moments of time. Because all moments are the time being, they are your time being.  A Tale for the Time Being (p. 259).

Alex and I have been in conversation and ongoing research for this project for almost two years now. We share a love of literature, a resource for ideas and structures with which we can then map our own pathways. One of our “ways” to creating a foundation for this film was through Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, a novel that deals with notions of time. Here is one of many passages we are holding close. It comes from Dögen Zenji, Uji (1200-1253), founder of Japanese Soto Zen.  Do not think that time simply flies away. Do not understand “flying” as the only function of time. If time simply flew away, a separation would exist between you and time. So if you understand time as only passing, then you do not understand the time being. To grasp this truly, every being that exists in the entire world is linked together as moments in time, and at the same time, they exist as individual moments of time. Because all moments are the time being, they are your time being. A Tale for the Time Being(p. 259).      

I often work to take less mobile, more heady ideas and turn them into motional investigations. Fleeting is an action-based term – an adective describing the notion of time being – for humans, being. Fleeting describes the nature of time without creating separation between us, and time, or between us and various times. And that is, at essence, where we are heading as we set out to craft an expression of time in dance for the camera.

So we start with research, but we don’t choreograph the research. We distill; we enliven; we set in motion. We also ask questions, like: How might we use a house as the “stage” to show simultaneous time, or the parallel nature of past, present and future? And… How many lives can one place hold?

Heading downeast into our film project!

Working with the amazing Alex Masi to realize a dance for film project. We fly out to Maine on Thursday; start work on Friday. Kelly Todd, the-woman-who-can-hold-a-moment-for-eternity, will join us on Sunday. More posts to come, including information about our presentation next week at Union Hall, via wild goose chase/the landing.

254 DanceFest

Enjoyed the 254 DanceFest this weekend, both for the chance to premier suspended with Reilly Faith and Jaclyn LeVasseur – who performed with such fun – and for the chance to see friends in expected and unexpected encounters, starting with Laura Mobley Vasquez who originated this work with Alex Masi. (Go into “previous posts” to see rehearsal versions of this work with Laura and Alex in Maine!) Also got to see Tiffanee Arnold and her beautiful new company; Asia Waters and her company; Allie Hudak who was there to support a friend, and other artists/friends from the dance world (which is small.) Grateful for the opportunity to show work.

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