Three years ago, Blaise Ferrandino, friend and composer, wrote a sonata for cello and piano. It’s lovely for its quiet and for the way it gathers and releases. My plan is to choreograph all three parts and I am starting with the middle section – a meditation on trust.
Working these past three days with Hannah Requa and James Vargas has been pure pleasure. Both members of Corpus Christi Ballet. They were quick to collaborate and problem solve the questions of shared weight and proximity. The dance is spatially tight. It’s intimate. These two dove in with passionate investment and we put together 5:36 minutes in the little time we had.
I am deeply grateful to Cristina Munro and Alex Trevino, directors of Corpus Christi Ballet, for the space and time to develop this work. There is no greater gift!
And grateful to these two for trusting process into being.
I am a fan of couture ball gowns, particularly those from the mid-twentieth century prior to the 60s. I find them intriguing as sculpture, and as one who composes dance, I am fascinated by the way designers see the possibilities of constructing these dresses for both the image they create on the human body and the manner in which they move. I am particularly enamored of Charles James’ work after seeing an exhibition at the Costume Institute in the Metropolitan Art Museum in NYC a few years ago, one that was stunning for the quantity and quality of the collection, and for the interactive nature of it (viewers were able to see a gown virtually disassembled and reassembled, in a stream of seaming flight). This particular collection caught my attention, too, for the colors of the gowns – many were in muted browns, greens, golds and burnt oranges. Not your typical color palette for such formal evening wear. While the colors I mentioned don’t show up in force in this link, it is still possible to get an idea of his genius here: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2014/charles-james-beyond-fashion/images
Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything in the permanent collection on line that quite approximates the gloriousness of that exhibition. You can, however, follow the Met on Instagram – and they’ve posted a few of those gorgeous gowns recently for viewers to enjoy. #metmuseum
In fact, I got on to this site today to post photos of the Balenciaga in Black exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum. #kimbellartmuseum For those who are living in Fort Worth/the metroplex, or visiting in the next three weeks, it is a must see!
I am fascinated with Balenciaga’s work too – for reasons I mentioned above – and more: this particular exhibition showcases many aspects of his work. I am drawn to the references he makes to traditional Spanish dress, and the accompanying exhibition of Francisco Goya’s work reinforces that connection to these particular designs. What really captured my attention was the play of “black on black” in this collection. In the spring, I am revisiting a work I made in fall, 2012: empty into the night. That work started with a challenge from the Renaissance painters: to create a dance in which it appeared the light was emanating from the dancers themselves. Of course this was in many ways more a challenge for lighting and costume designers of the work. But it did require a rather geometric choreographic construction. I am drawing parallels now because one of the ways I worked with the designers to achieve faceting, to create a dance that lived between shades and textures, was to create costumes made of several different fabrics, all variously sculpted browns. Now, through Balenciaga’s work, I am reminded of how easily and willingly simplicity can turn a corner into complexity, and still retain its underlying quiet.
To see this exhibition is to realize that Balenciaga made his way over a life time as both artist and craftsman, and continued to forefront his ability to design both inside and outside of culture at once.
In true Spanish fashion, there were many capes of varying sizes and styles in this exhibition. I was amused – traveling through the Goya exhibition – to see traditional Spanish wear both clothing subjects and fantasizing them!
Finally, this is perhaps as close as I will get to being inside of one of these dresses! Still….all in all…pure pleasure to find inspiration – and delight – in this masterful work.
A new development in the life and adventures of sdr: an Instagram account. I am still chuckling at a post from Alex “I cannot believe I’m tagging you, SDR.” So – for those of you on Instagram – susandouglasroberts
Pale Moon premiered in 2009 after I returned from a Fulbright residency in Taiwan. While there, a friend of mine mentioned that the Chinese character for expatriate was both poignant and complex, a combination of three characters: other country, floating, and child. This dance came from a motion-based investigation of place, and displacement, in the moving body. I imagine the performing in the company of the light of the moon.
I had the real pleasure this week of working with Marissa Sheffer to re-configure Laura’s solo, Pale Moon, for her. Actually, Laura and Marissa started the process in May and this was my first time to work with Marissa, who is now with METdance in Houston. And actually … this is the first time to make work with her after knowing her for almost five years: Marissa and I didn’t have the opportunity to work together choreographically when she was a student at TCU, so we are diving in now.
Laura’s solo was developed in a distinct way, and is particular to her, and to the process. Marissa is coming into the details beautifully, and at the same time, clearly making it her own.
The sun brings definition to Studio C every late afternoon and while this dance is designed to suggest moon light, I am always fascinated by the impact of the sun’s architecture. This quick moment of repose in the middle of the dance seems timeless in that framework.
As an aside, Marissa did the lighting design for the dance I made at TCU last spring, Threshold. She created a world apart for that work. She is a multifaceted artist.
So we are looking for a place to perform. Let me know if you have ideas.
Two days before I left Maine – in August – the geese that had been gliding on the estuary for the afternoon took flight. The sun was on its way to setting; I was surprised: they usually stay the night on the water. I was standing in the front yard; they flew directly at me as they were coming off the water, and then overhead. It felt a bit like I was the at the other end of the chase!
Adam, John and I recently returned to Rwanda to speak in person with Godelieve, to jump start our conversation on how to focus the grant funds in support of SEVOTA, and the build of a sustainable relationship between the SEVOTA communities and TCU.
On our third day in conversation with her, Godelieve invited us to the SEVOTA Center that is part of her home in Rukoma (formerly Taba, Rwanda). There she had gathered scores of women from the Gitarama province. In this photograph, you can see that she had picked up a map of Rwanda in the meeting room, and was showing us the various provinces where SEVOTA centers are located. On the table, to the right, is the hand-blown glass globe that we presented to Godelieve in March of this year, as symbol of the TCU Global Innovator Award.
While we were there, in a speechlessly moving act, she acknowledged the award she had received from TCU, and presented it to the women present. As I watched the award travel around the room, from one woman to the next, hand to hand, I realized I was witnessing a ritual claiming that had come from a genuinely collective authorship. It was a moving experience on the most profound of levels. The longer I am with Godelieve, the more I wonder at how I am so fortunate to have come to know her, and learn from her what it means to be a leader and active force in change.
For more information on the project, go into “older posts” at the bottom of the page.
Collette and I are in Tulsa, OK this week to participate in the EXCHANGE Choreography Festival: More than Movement, produced by The Bell House (Rachel Bruce Johnson, Artistic Director; Alicia Chesser, Curator and Assistant Artistic Director.)
Berceuse is on at tomorrow at 6 pm:
Exchange Choreography Festival
July 26-28, 2018
Location: Tulsa PAC Liddy Doenges Theatre, Tulsa, OK 110 E 2nd St, Tulsa, OK 74103
There will be a moderated dialogue and a discussion with the audience as part of the presentation.
Thanks to Alex Masi, I have some photos to share from the Global Innovator Award presentation to Godelieve Mukasarasi, Director of SEVOTA in Rwanda.
Just before coming to Fort Worth, Godelieve was in Washington DC to receive an award from the US Department of State, presented by Melania Trump.
The ceremony started with a beautiful film that Adam created for the event – a collection of photographs and video clips from various sources, including our January visit in Rwanda with Godelieve.
Next the TCU Rwandan community, led by Pacifique Rutamu (in front, and center), danced for Godelieve. They used the dancing to bring her to stage, along with the presenters.
Finally, Elizabeth Gillaspy (Director, TCU School for Classical & Contemporary Dance) and Anne Helmreich (Dean, TCU College of Fine Arts) presented the award – Irené Kwihangana translated, and SCCD dance majors, travelers to Rwanda, presented the actual awards.
Group photos to further convey the festive nature of the evening.