Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bare feet may be best.

Okay, after trying on several pairs of shoes I remembered that I do my best thinking barefoot (and actually bra-less but that's another story). I must have been distracted by my recent shoe purchase over the weekend where I bagged not one, or two...but three new pair of heels for a low, low price of $20. (Yeah, let that settle in ladies). It was meant to be, they were my size, they were on sale, and I had a coupon...I think women don't really find their shoes...the shoes find them. **See, and I'm distracted once again, argh!**

The whole point of this second post (in such a short time if you didn't notice) was to talk about finding inspiration to not only dance, but choreograph a dance for others. And, although I can do it under pressure if needed, I prefer for the music to speak to me. Some of my favorite choreographies started out with one musical phrase, less than 8 counts of music...something that I couldn't let go of and wanted to expand it to an entire piece. Really, it's like picking out your outfit based on your shoes first (god, I'm channeling Sex in the City now) or picking a vacation destination because of something you bought...but in the case of dance, it can work, and work well.

I really believe you cannot dance to something you don't feel inspired by, and just picking a number because it is a certain time frame, or it meets the style criteria you're seeking is just a recipe for disaster. It sets up the dancer to get bored quickly, become disengaged and just go through the motions. We may not want to admit it, but we've all been there at one time or another, and it just plain sucks, for us and even the audience. They may politely tell you the dancing was lovely, or that you looked pretty...but even when we can't put our finger on what we didn't like about a dance, we walk away a little hungry...and wanting more of something we may not be able to name.

I also think there is a formula to good choreography. You need music that has changes, ups, downs, fast and slow to keep people interested. You need to change the dynamic of the dancers and sometimes move with the rhythm and occasionally against it. I also love the idea of juxtaposing crisp sharp, traditional movements with some elements of randomness, chaos and ambiguity. That's the hardest part of all since it requires all the dancers in the troupe to let you of their need to control each and every movement and surrended to the notion that the choreography will never be exactly the same each time.

So, I feel this enormous pressure to come up with great choregraphies that everyone will love and passionately perform, and have all of my required elements from above. I want the drama, the excitement and the sense that you can't predict what we'll do next. I want the audience to sit on the edge of their seats and think, "Wow, I didn't know belly dance was like this!". Hence the waffling between music and ideas. But, once I settled out of my shoes, and let my feet uncurl (we are talking heels here) on the bare floor...I'm feeling more inspired and motivated.

The piece of music that I came back to is oddly enough one that I started thinking about last year. I literally heard it one time and could envision an entire number off of a few notes, and without sounding too literally moved me. Really, I'm not joking here. I felt a wave of emotion and feeling sweep through body, my breathing deepened and relaxed and I practically melted into a puddle. The song is called Yearning, and boy oh boy...I yearned! I've danced to it twice in solo performances and although I think I did a good job, I didn't have it dialed in...and I walked away feeling as if I let the music down. Which is why I've been hesitant to pick this piece for a makes me wonder if I'm just better at putting together numbers for everyone else versus dancing them myself. So, stay tuned and I'll try to keep you posted on how this number goes for us!


Team Serrins/Springfield said...

I find your ruminations on chorography quite fascinating. Why? Not because I expect to do any chorography (I can't even figure out how to spell it). So why so interesting to me? Because it's a common question for anyone who engages in any act of creation. For me, that means programming or writing. It's still necessary to have that seed of inspiration--some idea has to take root and then be nurtured.

With programming, my creation is usually a work of necessity. It's a case of sitting and plodding through the computer to make it work with bursts of inspiration and brilliance interspersed at frequent enough intervals to make my job the most fascinating job I could have.

With writing: I do not know where my ideas originate. I can sit and look and look and look at an assignment or idea and feel nothing. Then the writing is slow and, quite honestly, hard work. But sometimes I wake in the night or feel the seed while driving or taking a shower. Then I can sit at the computer and let my fingers go and the story starts to write itself. Those times, I may write 3000 words a day and the times I try to force it, it's 200 words a day at great effort.

I'm rambling but I guess my point is that it takes some inspiration but also allowing yourself to fall into your creative energy and not pushing it. At least that's true for me.