Saturday, November 17, 2012

Embodying The Dance

This week was pretty intense. I felt like I was supposed to be a lot more prepared than I was. We had a guest dance teacher. He is very talented and understands how to dance in a way that is. Is stunning. Just so talented. So its hard not to hang on his every word. He knows something we don't. He is so demanding though. And it's pretty destructive. He just lays people out and steps on their egos. It's painful to watch. Even more painful to experience. The kind of pain, like roots being pulled from the ground. That's one metaphor he uses to talk about step. To pull the roots from the ground with each step. The foot a trunk reaching deep into the earth. Shoots of mud and rock fly up as you walk. This is the kind of power we are working with in our movement. However he spent most of the week telling us that there are no down movements. We are constantly moving up. Just like a tree really.

We worked on a dance piece he had choreographed almost twenty years ago. And it was just an amazing experience to be thrown into the middle of something like that, as a non-dancer. It's an inside pass to the life, and level of demand of a dancer. Just felt so small in that room. Just to keep up was a major boon. At one point he singles me and several others in the room out and says that we emote on our faces too much. The audience feels cheated. Wow. Ouch. And I can see that. I know what he means. No matter how painful to hear.

In addition this week, we were challenged to find a metaphor and put it up on stage.  On Friday, during our performance lab when we showed our metaphor performances, our clown teacher (and ironically the twin brother of the dance teacher, ahem) spoke of the need to embody the experience a metaphor gives you in a way that does not rob the audience of the experience nor does it illustrate the metaphor in such a way that the feeling is lashed down. This is a big aha moment for me in that I realize my assumption was that my feeling and the feeling the audience will have will be one and the same. Therefore our work to illustrate the metaphor I imagined would offer the feeling for the audience. But it didn't work that way and would venture to say in general it doesn't work that way. When we work to illustrate metaphor --it offers an image. It does not offer the audience a look into the experience and feeling in the taking of the metaphor.

The dance and the theater are one in the same that the job of both are to embody the feeling through the body in a way that allows the body to do the processing. That the mind and the superficial face gestures gets out of the way for the body to steer, as much as humanly possible. A good metaphor, if you will, seems to me to be the ability to harness a horse and saddle it, a wild horse. To be able to hear the horse and her needs and also to be able to speak to the horse, guiding it when needed. I sound like a drank the Kool-Aid. And maybe I have. But it is an endeavor worthy of undertaking.

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