Danseur Ignoble: Choreography Again, Again
It’s weird how you can be in the middle of something else entirely and find that your brain has been patiently working on an unrelated problem.
In the middle of reading a book (An actual, physical book, you guys! Can you believe it?!!!11!1one), I suddenly figured out how to resolve the most enormous problem with the choreography for “Shadowlands.”
Initially, I envisioned it with a chair at one end of the stage; a mirror at the other. Both play critical roles in the dance itself; in the story, as it were, that the dance is telling.
Unfortunately, that creates a situation in which the dancer basically wanders back and forth along one straight line between them, which looks boring (which I realized while watching Denis’ video). Instead of being a dance about anguish, grief, internal conflict, or what have you, it appears to be an addle-pated person in tights staggering back and forth incomprehensibly between a chair and a mirror and occasionally jumping for no apparent reason.
Oh, and alternately wrestling with and folding a bathrobe. Seriously, I need to learn how to work the straightening-out of that particular prop into the dance, because there’s this horrible moment in Denis’ video in which I stand on a chair, stare into space, and fold a freaking bathrobe for like 20 seconds, which feels like an hour. Booooooooooring.
I suppose that could work if I were trying to make a dance about the way I felt the last time I had a concussion, or about trying to get ready for bed after the last time I went to a bar with Denis and Kelly … but I’m not.
There are two easy ways to solve this problem:
1. Simply add a mark at the back of the stage; the dance can then begin halfway between mirror and chair and use diagonal lines between the two. The advantage, here, is that no further set pieces are needed (and, thus, no schlepping or setup of additional set-pieces).
2. Add a third set-piece. The piece as I choreographed it assumed a proscenium with wings into which the dancer walks at the end; the performance space in question doesn’t have wings, so it doesn’t quite work as it should. I could add a third set-piece — specifically a door — and neatly kill two birds with one stone. One, the triangular structure of the stage would then be formally defined; two, the lack of wings would no longer be an issue.
For what it’s worth, I envisioned this dance, originally, with a door (or, well, I came up with that idea after I gave up on leaping offstage from the top of the chair; that seems a little melodramatic and like a good way to really break a leg). I didn’t have time to work out the logistics before the audition of building or borrowing such a set-piece, though, and I forgot all about it.
Personally, I’m leaning towards the door, simply because of the lack of wings.
Of course, all this assumes that my piece is selected for this performance. If it isn’t, though, it still makes sense to hone it with the assumption that there might not be any wings wherever it someday sees the light of day.