Thursday, 28 March 2013

Last week, I had an amazing experience working with Kyle Abraham during our first week of residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. We spent more than 3 hours together every day building material for what I would say is, after 6 days now, the bulk our piece.

I wasn't sure what to expect on our first day, since I barely knew Kyle. I didn't know what music Kyle would choose, and I had very little understanding of his unique movement vocabulary or choreographic style. I felt very slow to pick up the material, and I have to say I left the first rehearsal feeling extremely frustrated and nervous that I would never be able to "get" this piece together in my body or mind.

I usually film the material we make each day and resign myself to doing homework, studying the videos, each evening after rehearsal. I would find myself awake at 4am processing sequences of steps in my head.  So far, I have done this for each of the four choreographers I am working with, and it has really helped me to keep up with them and not waste valuable studio time.

Unlike the other choreographers,  Kyle brought in two of his own dancers (Chalvar Monteiro and Rena Butler) to assist him so he could step back and see the work he was creating.  He and his dancers are absolutely breathtaking to watch. ( I think the first couple of days I was probably SO transfixed and in awe watching them, that I couldn't pick up the steps.)

But by day four, Kyle and I were doing run-thrus on our own, which started to build my confidence. Kyle, Rena and Chalvar fed me lots of descriptive imagery in order to explain the movement and soon their imagery began to navigate it's way into my own body, I could feel myself growing into the work, and things started to make sense for me. The piece began to develop beyond Kyle and I, stirring up it's own dramatic intensity and identity by way of the music and steps the more we danced together.  This is the kind of chemistry that will define a work and a partnership.... and with luck it will surface at some point during the creative process.

It's something I always hope for,  but never expect. It's my favorite part of developing a new work, and it's the the whole reason why I have taken on this project, for the simple hope of experiencing this glimmer of profound human connection through creativity.

The unexpected gift of a finding piece designing itself, on the deepest of levels ...  all on its own.

- Ww

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

It's been eight years since Shen Wei and I made Body Study lll. I only decided a year ago, with great hesitation to look at the performance video from 2005 ... I am so glad that I finally got the courage to watch myself tackle this beast of a piece. 

My first thought was,  "what am I  waiting for?  I NEED to dig into this choreography again."

I could so clearly see all the work I had put into the challenge of becoming a "Shen Wei dancer" for that moment, and I was happy to feel such pride in my work. 

I remember how much Shen Wei and I loved working together, all those years ago. We each brought the other out of a comfort zone during the creation of this solo. It was the first and only time he has ever created for a dancer wearing pointe shoes, and the challenge and coordination of his movement was completely new territory for me to try and embody.  

That said, we have always greatly admired one another.  I think we get inspired by each other's energy and artistry, and we each have quite a perfectionistic streak. 

 I'll never forget him telling me that I blink too much while dancing ... And that his dancers don't blink!  :))) 

Today was our first day back in the studio together to work on shaping Body Study lll for our Guggenheim Works and Process performances which take place April 14 and 15. 

Shen Wei hadn't seen the piece in 8 years so it was a real surprise for him that I could show him the whole 6 minute solo.  Afterwards he said, " Soooooo good! ...Now we make even better! " 

It's nice to know that some things will never change.., we picked up right where we left off,  all those years ago. 


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Sneak a peak into last week's rehearsal with Wendy and Josh Beamish.

Huffington Post NYC-Art asked Wendy about the woman who inspires her. 

"The one woman who has continued to inspire me as an artist and human being is Marie Cecile Gibson. She was my ballet teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, from the age of 11 to 14."

Read Wendy's full answer here

The Telegraph (UK) listed Wendy as one of the 10 best ballet stars working today, between Uliana Lupatkina and Mikhail Baryshnikov

Take a look here.