I’ve been thinking about how to implement my collaborative choreography project thing.
I’ve chosen the music (both pieces by Philip Glass: “The Poet Acts” and “The Light”*) — because even a collaborative project has to start somewhere.
Initially, I thought, “Eh, what the heck, I’ll just come up with some stuff over the next few months, recruit some dancers when I get there, and wing it from there.”
…And while this is very much typical of my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style of doing, um, basically everything, there are some major logistical problems, here.
First, while I have no problem whatsoever with the idea of teaching a few basic steps to some total n00bs game enough to step onto my little stage, I would like to collect at least a few people who know from ballet.
I would also like some of them to be better dancers than I am.
As much as it would be awesome to think that I’ll be ready for prime time by August of 2015, I can identify at least 1 week I will totally not be able to dance, plus another 3 – 4 during which I’ll be partly incapacitated. Thus, while I expect to have my waterfowls in a much closer semblance of a linear array than at present, I also don’t expect to magically transform into David Hallberg — or even Eduard Forehand, PDG, or PDG2 by then (though miracles have occurred).
With 50,000+ people in attendance at Burning Man in any given year, the odds are good that at least a few people will be attending who know their turnout from their detourné. Thus, trying to get in touch with a few of them a few months before the gates open (even though whether or not one gets tickets can be a bit of a crapshoot) sounds like a better idea than spending the first day back Home cruising the desert for would-be dancers.
Fortunately, through the Power of the Internet, it should be possible to do this thing.
Second, That Thing In The Desert is only a week long, and as I may have mentioned before, it seems unlikely that tons of people are going to want to spend a week playing Let’s Pretend We’re At Summer Intensive between (or, worse, during) dust storms. Sure, that sounds like my idea of a good time, but we have probably established by now that I’m not exactly normal (to be fair, neither is anyone else who goes to TTITD).
Thus, it’ll be good if most of us walk on with some sense of what we want to do — a few combinations strung together, or whatever.
I’m not yet entirely decided on how to do that part.
Do I say, “Come with with x number of measures, and we’ll fit them in somewhere?” Or do I say, “Come up however much stuff you want, and we’ll throw it all at the wall and see what sticks?”
Or do I say: “Here’s a theme: redemption. Bring something with you that you feel evokes that idea.**”
Third, I’m going to have to consider logistics. Maybe someone else will have a stage we can borrow; maybe somehow my camp will manage to make one happen. Even then, a proper spring floor with a nice surface is deeply and abidingly unlikely (that stuff’s expensive, y’all, and the Desert eats everything).
As such, I probably want to come up with choreography that can be performed pretty much literally anywhere. So while I may have visions of grand jetes en tournant, in reality we might need to eschew really big leaps in favor of not destroying everyone’s joints and so forth.
Fourth and last (for now) — I realize that this is going to be a real test for me.
I am not a collaborator by nature. I’m a control freak. Like most artistic people, I very easily become entrained in the wake of my own vision, and that can make it hard to work with other people.
On the other hand, dance is by its very nature a communal art form. Dancers are constantly collaborating, whether we realize it or not. Every time Brienne gives us some horrible fondu combination designed to cull the weak from the herd or some beautiful adagio designed to make us all look like we just arrived straight from The School of the Celestial Ballet or whatever, and we take it and make it our own.
We listen to the music (which someone else probably wrote) and run through the combination (which Brienne invented), but we interpret it through the lens of our own being. And if we are fortunate we do so without kicking the person behind us (which I totally did in class today; sorry, girl behind me — I hope that weird little high-five between the edge of my foot and your hand didn’t hurt).
I am (amazingly enough) actually reading Ballet Technique for the Male Dancer, and Tarasov stresses over again that dancers shouldn’t just copy steps. He explains it better than I do, and it’s nearly 3 AM (yaaaay, isnomnia!), so I will have to dig up a solid quote later.
But, anyway where dance is concerned, I am already collaborating, just as I have collaborated as a musician with other musicians as a member of an orchestra, a string quartet, or a choir. I think I am mature enough now to come into this thing with a good basic mini-ballet set to go, but also ready to accept and interpolate the ideas and idioms of others.
So there we have it. A thought overflow holding tank for the Glass Project (which now needs a name, I suppose).
Having recorded all of this, perhaps now I’ll be able to sleep.
That’s it for now.
Be bold, my friends.
*I will say that even this isn’t set in stone. “The Poet Acts” is pretty much a given, but “The Light,” which is much longer, may or may not make the final cut on the Playa. I have other pieces in the queue for which I’m constructing choreographic skeletons, just in case.
**And try not to make it too hard, because there’s no guaranteeing we won’t get 15 game noobs and 3 people who at least know how to tendu.