October 10, 2011
April 3, 2011
I’m teaching an open professional class every morning for two weeks in the studio theatre of the gorgeous Performance Garage, a creation and presentation space developed by Jeanne Ruddy as a home for her company, and as a resource for the sprawling and diverse Philadelphia dance community. I think this is my fourth visit in as many years, and I’m going to guess that I haven’t taught a single class without a new dancer who is trying it for the first time. Seeing work every time I’m here as well, but despite that I know I’ve only glimpsed a tiny portion of the dance community. Exploring some new choreographic ideas with three splendid dancers – Bethany Formica, Greg Holt and Shannon Murphy – so my days are rich and invigorating. Thinking ahead to a residency in St. Catharines – staging my dance installation move outside Toronto for the first time – and feeling thankful for the opportunity to explore my work in relation to different communities.
July 17, 2010
June 13, 2010
January 14, 2010
I’m into the perfect routine of class in the morning and rehearsal in the afternoon, taking a beautiful and profound ballet class with Christine Wright at 890 Broadway, a short walk from The Chelsea, and then working afternoons at the DANY studios on 38th Street with dancer Larry Hahn on Doug Varone’s armour. This duet was originally made for Varone dancers Natalie Desch and Daniel Charon as part of Dense Terrain, a full evening work presented at BAM’s Harvey Theatre in 2007. In fact, I think it may have been the very first fragment of that big and complicated piece. Larry and I were both in Dense Terrain, and early on Doug and I spoke about the possibility of bringing it into my own repertoire. So now that original duet has been lifted out of its original context, slightly reworked, christened with a title, and reframed to become the final event in a triptych of dances I’m presenting in Toronto at the end of February. Doug has allowed me to commission new music by Debashis Sinha, and so while Daniel and Natalie are teaching Larry and I the choreography – with all its intricacies of connection and conjoined partnering – Doug is coaching us, aligning the dance with the score, and developing a new ending. The precision and austerity of armour is deeply satisfying, and I can’t wait to present it to lighting designer Marc Parent…
September 27 , 2009
One of the things that made today’s rehearsal so special, besides how much intensely concentrated work we got done, was the gorgeous sonic environment being created in real time by musician/composer/collaborators Debashis Sinha, Phil Strong and Ben Grossman. The music is tremendous! I am so lucky to have these guys on board.
A gang of front of house volunteers for our event came by for an orientation session and sat in on the last run-thru of the day. Lots of staging and technical elements having to do with the musicians’ set-up, lighting, and seating were not in place and I think our guests may have been wondering how we would ever be ready with just one run-thru left, an hour before our first show next Saturday. But after a dinner break, Deb and I returned and worked out all of the details of light and location. We did a dry run of the digital media images that will be animating the space between performances of the dance – along with a beautiful and brainy sound installation Phil has devised – and the magic that is in store for next weekend revealed itself fully. If you’re in Toronto and out for Nuit Blanche next weekend, please come by, move promises to be something very special. The space and event are kid friendly and I’m inviting anyone who wants to capture images of the dance on their cell phone and send them out into the ether. We’re every hour on the hour, 7PM through 7AM, the night of October 3rd and morning of October 4th.Can hardly wait! Dreaming of my sleepless night…
June 17th, 2009
I was not anxious to leave Toronto ten days ago, just as Luminato was getting rolling. There was so much I wanted to see, and the only performance I could catch, R. Murray Schafer’s The Children’s Crusade, was so terrific that I just wanted to stay in town and see every single event. But now, here I am at State University of New York / Purchase, half way through Doug Varone and Dancers’ 3-week residency and I couldn’t be happier! Doug is riding a huge crest as a choreographer, creating one master work after another - Boats Leaving, Lux and Alchemy all in quick succession - and I am in heaven seeing these dances, and the stunning dancers that bring them to life, up close. The 80 (!!) dancers attending this workshop are talented, serious and inspired and I am thoroughly enjoying the daily class I teach to a group of 40 focused on the conditioning sequences devised by the brilliant neuromuscular trainer, (and my teacher of 25 years), Irene Dowd.
This is my seventh workshop as adjunct faculty, and Doug has always offered me an evening to share my work in a studio theatre setting. Over the years I have shown Unfold, Strand, and Brute, (all with pianist Andrew Burashko), The Transparent Recital (with cellist Shauna Rolston), a true story, Krishna’s Mouth, The Disappearance of Right and Left, and Yang, (danced by Sahara Morimoto). This year, though, I took a completely different approach and did a talk and screening to introduce the first set of DVDs for the Choreographer’s Trust. The Dance Theatre Lab at Purchase is equipped with a DVD projector, so I was able to have a nice big image thrown onto the scrim, and the super simple remote control put me in charge of running the film clips. The whole event lasted about 90 minutes, and throughout I alternated speaking, (extemporaneously), with reading excerpts from the booklets, and showing footage from the DVDs of Brahms Waltzes and In a Landscape. An impromptu Q & A completed the evening. The response was wonderful and quite a few of the dancers are putting me in touch with the department chairs at the universities where they study so that they can have access to the materials. So, slowly but surely each of the 150 sets of year one booklets and DVDs for The Choreographer’s Trust is finding a home. The presentation itself really worked, and I’ll look for opportunities to repeat that elsewhere.
Remarks by Peggy Baker delivered at Rideau Hall on the occasion of the 2009 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, May 8th, 2009
I am a dancer. I’ve been dancing since I curled and twisted and thrust my limbs, floating in my mother’s womb. As a child I danced in the living room, down city sidewalks, in classes that met once a week, in community recitals and amateur musicals. I discovered modern dance at theatre school and, thunder struck, I put aside everything else to pursue it.
I am gripped by the kinetic excitement and dramatic power of dance; the architecture of choreography, the intimacy of dancing with others; the formality of the theatre, the transformative impact of light and sound, the ritual of performance, the immediacy of an audience. I deplore gender stereotyping and I am fascinated by androgyny. I seek to penetrate the polished surface of dance technique to reveal an authentic expression of humanity. I consider dance to be a spiritual practice, and the commitment, patience, and empathy that have deepened through my work guide me in my personal and civic life.
Nothing in my dance life has been accomplished alone, outside the context of community. I am a product of circumstance and opportunity, lucky to be a citizen of a peaceful and prosperous nation, and free to explore beyond its borders. I live in the debt of many extraordinary individuals - family, loved ones, teachers, colleagues, and artists from every discipline - who have shaped my sensibility and facilitated my work.
I practice a fragile, living art and I will not relinquish the responsibility I share for its continuity and vitality.
Peggy Baker receiving her award at Rideau Hall, May 8.
Peggy Baker and Meredith Potter celebrate the Governor General Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts at the National Arts Centre on May 9.
April 27th, 2009
I love this chain of inspiration and impulse: meeting Sylvia through my teacher and good friend Linda Rabin; the growing excitement and appreciation as Sylvia and I experienced each other’s work over many years; Sylvia’s generosity in offering a series of films to me to use as source material; her passionate response to photographs of earthling shot in Vancouver by Chris Randle; the unleashed creativity in working with Kate, Sean and Sahara and the suggestion by Sylvia that she join us in the studio for several days to work with this new generation of material herself. Our work feels very much in sync with the season.
February 21st, 2009
I spent my afternoons in Philly in individual sessions with four different choreographers, or on my own, getting a new solo ready. I’m doing Nightwood Theatre’s March 5th FemCab at Lula Lounge in Toronto, and using it as a chance to test fly text and movement material for a piece playwright/actor (and yes, dancer) Michael Healey and I have in the works. I’m calling this first solo go abbreviated outline of an unfinished play.
My big excitement this weekend is to comb through the COMPLETED DVDs for Year One of the Choreographer’s Trust and choose the excerpts that will be screened at the Carlton Cinema on Thursday, February 26th at 7pm when the DVDs and their accompanying booklets are officially launched into to their dance world careers. This project, which got off the ground in 2002 thanks to visionary funding through the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation, began as a way to pass on six of my solos to two dancers each. It has developed, in phase two, to the creation and production of a series of booklets and DVDs that make those same solos available for study and exploration by dance students and academics. If you’re in Toronto Febraury 26th and can make it to the Carlton Cinema, (just east of Yonge at the College subway stop), I would be thrilled to see you at the launch. If not, then maybe the Lula Lounge…
January 26th, 2009
I arrived in Vancouver January 18th and got right to work the next morning with Larry Hahn in his latest incarnation as set designer. Larry had devised a tilted and tipped slightly spirally platform, about 10 feet deep and 9 feet wide, for my new solo, a commission by Dances for a Small Stage as part of the PuSh Festival. In a carpentry shop by 10am, Larry had the platform built, stained, sealed, dry, disassembled, into a truck, off the truck, up to the dance studio and back together ready to go for a 5pm rehearsal! 2 minutes shy of the finished dance at 5pm, earthling, with music by Debashis Sinha, was complete by 6:30. I taught morning class for CADA/BC Tuesday through Thursday, then on to afternoon rehearsals and daily program run thrus before rushing off to see PuSh shows at night, leading up to our own opening night Thursday and closing night Friday at the fabulous and funky Legion Hall on Commercial Drive. Dances for a Small Stage has become insanely popular. It starts at 8, but the doors open at 7 and it’s sold-out in about 15 minutes. Throngs of disappointed people were turned away each night.
I got to see a Ballet B.C. rehearsal of James Kudelka’s new work Friday afternoon, (a real highlight of this trip for me), and stayed in Vancouver an extra night to see program two of Dances for a Small Stage 20. Yes, there was a hopelessly long line, and I just barely got in! On Sunday we ferried from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, (I had a near death experience on a windy deck) and then drove the few kilometers to Gibsons with dear friend, (and host), Sylvain Brochu. I spent this afternoon putting The Disappearance of Right and Left back together for a performance to benefit the Sunshine Coast Dance Society at the Heritage Playhouse here on Wednesday night and then it’s on to the EDAM studio in Vancouver with Disappearance this Friday and Saturday. I have one last performance of Disappearance at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Thursday, February 5th at 7pm, and then I turn my attention back to teaching and the creation of a new work…November 9th, 2008
I know, I know I’m losing my grip! My journal entries are becoming sporadic. My proclivity for taking on one too many things at any given moment has spiraled out of control just two months into the fall, (September always feels like the beginning of the year to me), and I am way over my head in all-consuming projects. And so, I will jump past the multitude of exciting events that prevented me from writing earlier and dive right into my current preoccupation: the double remount of the surrealistic dance/theatre adventure Radio Play for performances in Toronto for The Young Centre Presents, (November 25th – 29th), and in Calgary for the High Performance Rodeo, (January 14th & 15th). It could have been so easy! But oh no, the fates snatched my partner Larry Hahn from me by way of a torn meniscus complicated by debris floating around in that same knee just weeks before we were to begin rehearsals. And so a massive search was mounted, it’s impossible goal, to find another performer to take on the acting and dancing role of Angus Portland, HR manager, in the Denise Clarke creation Radio Play. I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to go with an actor who wouldn’t be afraid to dance rather than a dancer crazy enough to act, because we’d have to fly with just three days of rehearsal directed by Denise just before opening. And by some miracle I managed to totally score by signing up the magnificent actor/playwright Michael Healey! What a beautiful guy and accomplished theatre animal he is! Incredibly generous, patient, and funny in rehearsals, and helping to move this piece into a quite a different realm from the one Larry and I inhabited as dancers guided in the acting by Denise. We finished putting the play back together on Friday, November 7th and we go to Calgary to work for three intensive days with Denise on the 14th. I think she’s going be thrilled when she sees where we’re at. I am completely excited by the work with Michael. So preparing for the High Performance Rodeo should have been a breeze following our Toronto run, but Michael is busy in January with a project at Theatre Passe Muraille, so December 15th it’s back into rehearsal once again, this time around with the brilliant dance and theatre man Conrad Alexandrowicz, the creative mind and body behind Wild Excursions of the Muse, now working out of the University of Victoria theatre department. So a straightforward remount has cascaded into a major rehearsal period, with each incarnation of this wonderful piece offering tremendous stimulation for me as an artist and promising a host of delights for the audience in each city. I do hope you’ll be able to catch it! And you’ll know where I am if I fail to write…
September 21st, 2008
No, I didn’t miss my August journal entry because I was off vacationing with no thoughts of my dance life. On the contrary! I have been so ferociously busy jumping from one all-consuming project to the next that I haven’t had a moment to reflect. Since I last wrote: - I premiered my Christos Hatzis work, In the Fire of Conflict, at the Toronto Summer Music Festival, performing with the sensational cellist Denise Djokic and the powerful, super precise marimba player Ryan Scott at Walter Hall at the University of Toronto’s Edward Johnson Building - I taught technique and repertoire for the annual Teachers’ Seminar at Canada’s National Ballet School - I gave my own week-long intensive focusing on physical and creative practice for a group of 25 intense and talented dancers ranging in age from 19 to 60 years - Assisted Lar Lubovitch in setting his masterwork North Star on the senior class at New York’s Juilliard School, (that was a 7 day marathon that left me on a total high!) - I took a week of introductory classes in Skinner Releasing Technique with Julia Sasso, co-presented by the Alternative Technique Class series of 8:08 and Dancemakers - I did two weeks of creation with Ottawa dance beauty Jacqueline Ethier, (playing with ideas from The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard and haunting songs by Björk), a piece to be finished for her in November - I started my teaching year at Canada’s National Ballet School where I work with three different classes of gorgeous young dancers - And I have reconstructed a work from 1997 titled Strand to dance this afternoon with pianist Andrew Burashko, (playing Ann Sothams’ Spatial View of Pond), at the Toronto launch of Unfold, a book about my dance life written by Carol Anderson and published by Dance Collection Danse Press/Presse Tomorrow I get back to my vocal exercises and into rehearsals for The Disappearance of Right and Left, my Sarah Chase dance story that makes a short trip of free shows around Toronto beginning October 5th at Theatre Passe Muraille. Ah yes, now that it’s fall, things really get busy…
July 25th, 2008
Hello from the Canadian Rockies and the exquisitely beautiful and creatively charged Banff Centre! It is my great good fortune to have been invited by Lindsay Fischer, the inspired and accomplished director of the centre’s new dance program, to join the artistic staff he has assembled to work with a company of 26 extraordinary dancers over a period of five weeks, culminating in a series of six performances. I have been staging Julio Lumo, a work for thirteen dancers that I choreographed in 2000 to a pair of songs by the (now defunct) Toronto world music band Maza Meze. I had forgotten how complicated this dance is, very quick and exacting, and all of the music in cycles of seven. The original dance included two children, but this is an all-adult version, and quite different, since some major revisions were required. Will any of you be in or around Banff the week of August the 4th? I’ve also been working on a new dance for myself while I’m here, using a tough and emotionally raw score for cello, marimba and tape by Christos Hatzis. The composition is titled In the Fire of Conflict, and it premiers in the Walter Hall cello recital of Denise Djokic as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival on August 5th. The score includes dramatic use of spoken word folded into multi-layered surround sound. I’m working in the studio with a MIDI demo, and it will be amazing to hear the music with live cello and marimba, and a sound system that can handle the power and complexity of the tape part. I will be down to the wire with the choreography, expecting to finish it just in time for my first rehearsal with musicians on August 2nd. Back into the studio tomorrow morning…
June 16th, 2008
Radio Play lives! Three previews and two performances into its short life it has made itself known as a funny, sad, sweet, surprising piece of performance that confuses distinctions between dance and theatre, fiction and biography, sentimentality, high art, play acting, and post modernism. The audience laughed, they cried; were by turns appreciative, baffled, elated and incredulous. Lee Anholt created a gorgeous super geometric world though the magic of lighting and Sahara Morimoto proved herself a steady, sensitive and accurate sound technician. (Since I can’t seem to go anywhere in my dance life without Sahara as my dancer and studio assistant extraordinaire it seemed a natural choice to simply fold her into the tech crew.) Richard McDowell’s score sounded pin-drop-perfect in the theatre, and following the second Ottawa performance a delighted theatre buff expressed his delight at recognizing Richard’s inimitable counterpoint of melody, sound effects and vocals without even reading the program. Creator Denise Clarke continued to tweak and coach right to the end, and Larry and I will both miss her like crazy until we are reunited prior to a run at Toronto’s Young Centre in November, and visit to Calgary’s High Performance Rodeo first thing in the new year.
May 14th, 2008
Larry Hahn and I are midway through the second week of our final rehearsal period with the virtuosic creator/performer Ms Denise Clarke, working toward preview showings at Dancemakers Centre for Creation the last week of May, and our premiere as dancers with a lot to say June 8th and 9th in Ottawa. Do I sound nervous? I console myself with the following thoughts
The development of this project with Denise has been truly remarkable. She is a tireless worker, and an inspiring and demanding director. She is a totally gorgeous dancer; tall, super flexible, precise, soulful and quirky. She dazzles Larry and I with her take on the characters she has created for us and patiently and expertly guides us through the necessary steps of making them our own.
Today we roughed through from just after the prologue through to the end, minus the top secret, pivotal dance scene that we roughed in spontaneously, and just for the fun of it, propelled by gales of laughter and Richard McDowell’s fabulous and funky sound design. Can’t wait for tomorrow…
April 3, 2008
A bright morning in Philadelphia where I am teaching a daily class for two weeks through an organization called Dance Advance. I am staying in lovely brownstone in the Art Museum neighbourhood. The streets here are tiny one-ways with room for a row of tightly packed parked cars and just enough space to squeeze by in moving vehicle. The sidewalks are narrow and mostly given over to trees and terracotta urns of flowers. The buildings are right up against the city sidewalk with just three high steps leading the front door. My little home feels like it could be it Amsterdam, narrow and deep with a back garden and a terribly steep staircase leading to the second floor. My classes are taking place in the main studio of Philadanco, which is full of good vibes. Philadelphia is beautiful and bustling cosmopolitan city teeming with African Americans so it has been a surprise, and also a disappointment, not to have a single black dancer in my class. There is a core group of about ten dancers who appear every day. The only man in class has made a pilgrimage from Calgary, (well, Canmore). We all are into a beautiful work groove, which is inspired and sustained by the music of Tim Motzer, a brilliant guitarist who creates recorded loops to play on top as we go along. Part of this residency, which was set in motion by eighties dance world buddy Bill Bissell, is a whopping 3 hours of studio space for me every afternoon. I’m using it as an opportunity to develop movement material for an upcoming work with cellist Denise Djokic. Christos Hatzis is writing a score for Denise, and though I haven’t heard a note of it, I am getting rolling by creating some raw material that will be ready to manipulate and develop once I get the music. I brought a lot of cello music with me and everyday I have different recording playing through as I work. So far I’ve begun each session by working on new ideas. When I run dry, I review what I made the day before and then simply add on the new material. At the end of yesterday’s rehearsal I began cutting moves that stuck out as being clichéd or habitual and it felt great to clean them out. During that last half hour of work I got a glimmer of something new beginning, the feeling that there is a new dance waiting to be discovered in my body. So I am out the door and off to the studio, along my gorgeous little street, lined with trees bursting into flower.
March 6th, 2008 Does this happen to anyone else? The date for something you are going to do is so far in the future it feels like it will always be on the horizon. You’re working to get ready for the day to arrive, but it stays firmly established in the future tense. Then, very suddenly it seems, the day arrives and it feels a little surreal. So, March 6th, 2008. Today as I write it and ever after, in the past!
A Woman by a Man, the new Kudelka duet with Sean Marye, goes up tonight in Toronto on a far bigger stage, and that makes it quite a bit easier to negotiate the spacing. We have two new musicians joining pianist Andrew Bursahko - Benjamin Bowman on violin and cellist Shauna Rolston. They worked together for the first time on Sunday, I joined them Monday to clarify the choreographic context for the music and we had two days in the rehearsal studio prior to last night’s dress rehearsal. This group of musicians has a different approach and chemistry than the Montreal gang, and it is amazing to me how much room for interpretation there is within a classical score.
Louis Laberg-Côté and Sahara Morimoto are dancing Yang, and as the performances have drawn nearer I’ve given them more and more time to work on it without me. I think it will be a very surprising opening to the concert. The first act closes with Jessica Runge in Brahms Waltzes, and she is sublime. Portal is slipped between these two earlier works picking up on the vocabulary of Yang but finishing on a very quiet note before the Brahms.
A nap this afternoon, and then into the extended time warp of successive performances.
This morning dancer Michael Sean Marye, pianist Andrew Burashko and I boarded an early morning train to Montreal. The platform was jammed, and with every car packed to the gills we were unable to find choreographer James Kudelka, also with us, until we reached our destination. (It turned out that the super punctual Mr. Kudelka had been earlier, and not later, than the rest of us in getting to Union Station.) A quick trip to the hotel to drop off our bags, and then immediately off to a rehearsal hall at Place des Arts for a music rehearsal of Shostakovich’s 2nd piano trio, the score for Kudelka’s new duet, A Woman by a Man. Andrew, who had originally suggested the music to James, has taken the opportunity of this trio to work with a pair of Montreal musicians known to him by virtue of their stellar reputations.
Violinist Olivier Thouin and cellist Yegor Dyachkov are two of the most exciting and accomplished classical musicians in Montreal. They know each other very well, and are expert at sustaining a funny and very charming banter with one another that keeps the rather intense work light and energized, immediately dispelling any tension in tackling the challenges of the music. Although they have never met Andrew before the three are instantly comfortable and focused. Their command of their instruments, their experience as chamber players, and the intelligence and instinct that they bring to their interpretation of the work allows them to engage with the score and with one another in mutually exciting and inspiring ways.
James sits on his own, facing the musicians as the audience will, and Sean and I sit together behind the players and over to one side, quietly thinking through our parts. Each of the musicians has played this piece before and they have slightly different ideas about how to approach it, what to bring out. The choreography requires the music to build and push in very specific ways, and the second movement needs to be faster than any of the musicians had considered in the past. For a full three hours the musicians work with one another, and with James, to develop interpretation that both honours the music and supports the intention of the choreography. Sean and I are hearing so much more than we ever got from the recording we worked to in the studio. The music is magnificent, and we are blown away by how much the musicians can accomplish in a single rehearsal! It’s just Saturday, and we will be with these musicians every day now until we open on Wednesday and then have four performances together. This will be a great ride!
December 16, 2007
My fabulous lighting designer, Montrealer Marc Parent, no longer goes on the road with me. (He’s the father of two young children, in-house with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, plus juggling a busy freelance schedule with a multitude of theatre and dance companies in Montreal). So over the past couple of years we have become very resourceful when it comes to preproduction. What’s required is a residency in a crewed and equipped theatre so that Marc can become fully acquainted with the choreography in a stage space, experiment with possibilities, and ultimately conceive, execute and document a design. It’s crucial that he’s working with the assistance of the lighting supervisor who will go on the road with me so that all of the technical information gets communicated fully and accurately.
To that end I jumped on the 5pm Via Rail to Montreal last Tuesday, (11/12/07), ready to go with repertoire for three different concerts that are slated for the new year. When I say different I don’t just mean different cities - we’re doing Calgary, Montreal and Toronto – I mean different programs for each place we’re going. Calgary gets two premieres, Molissa Fenley’s Dreaming Awake and my own Portal, plus Krishna’s Mouth, and it’s the only concert I’m dancing on my own. Montreal gets the premiere of my new James Kudelka duet, A Woman by Man, with Michael Sean Marye, (who is tremendous!), plus Portal, and the gorgeous Andrea Nann in Unfold. For Toronto, where Unfold has already been presented twice, the program will be Portal and the Kudelka duet plus Brahms Waltzes, danced by the magnificent Jessica Runge, and Yang, with hot shots Louis Laberg-Cote and Sahara Morimoto.
That is a huge amount of repertoire. I don’t go onstage with this rep for the first time until January 23rd, Sean and Andrea don’t go on until February 20th and the Toronto cast has until March 6th, but I needed to be able to mock up the whole works, in costume, December 12th through 14th! Now add to that, the only other dancers available to go to Montreal for the December preproduction with Marc were Sahara - one half of the Yang duet, as well as being an understudy extraordinaire who was ready to go with Brahms Waltzes and Unfold - and dancer Larry Hahn as a cover for Sean. The three of us were flying by the seat of our pants, but we made it all happen! The dancers were at Circuit-est warming-up and rehearsing in the morning, while the technicians readied the theatre, joining forces onstage at Maison de la Culture Frontenac in the afternoon. Marc completed three brand new designs, (boy oh boy, is the lighting for Portal amazing!), plus reconstructing and finessing his designs for the rest of the rep, and lighting supervisor Lee Anholt is all ready to go out on the road with us. I turn my attention and energy now to the final stages of rehearsal, the demands of getting the dancing where it needs to be and the complexities of the live music, especially for the Kudelka....
December 5th, 2007
Was it buying my 2008 agenda yesterday that inspired a head start on New Year’s resolutions and kicked off this sudden desire to finally get an on-line diary going? Or is it the extra 25 minutes I somehow won myself this morning that insist on being put to good use? Either way, or a little of both, my website is now host for my musings and misadventures in the form of an early 21st century blog!
The last week and half has been focused mainly on rehearsals for my new James Kudelka duet, A Woman by a Man. Originally slated for a Montreal premiere in February of 2007, this 25 minute long duet was choreographed working seven days straight in November 2006. Dancer Larry Hahn, (the fabulous Doug Varone company veteran), and I struggled to keep up with James’s breakneck pace, but by day seven we were both pretty dazed and exhausted, and when we shot a video to be used as a basic record of the dance, we could not yet perform or in some cases, even remember all of the steps. The duet got put away for a few weeks while we both worked in New York with the Varone company and then we dove back in. Two weeks before the premiere, just as we peaked in mastering the dastardly duet I fractured a bone in my right foot and the entire enterprise had to be abandoned. Coming back to the work a year later, that original day seven video is not only an indispensable record of which foot, what comes next, and who goes where, it is also a rich source of hilarity and humiliation. Especially since Larry is in the studio this time around as a rehearsal director rather than a dancer, and that first hopeless looking run-through has now been fully revealed to the magnificent Michael Sean Marye who is taking over as my partner.
Sean managed to learn the whole doggone dance in five days, mastering things as he went along and making me wonder why my own first rehearsals were so overwhelming. James was in the studio with us for a whopping four hours on Tuesday and he worked his masterful, magic way through the whole piece from beginning to end, clarifying shape, dynamics, facings, focus and details of partnering. We are dancing to a tremendous score for piano, violin and cello by Dimitri Shostakovich, and James expanded on the choreography of the third and fourth movements somewhat, taking into account the placement and presence of the musicians.
Sean is off to China and Mongolia this Sunday in an all Kudelka program with Coleman/Lemieux & Compagnie, so we don’t work together again until just before Christmas. In the meantime, I’m off to Montreal to do pre-production with primo lighting designer Marc Parent, with Larry standing-in for Sean. But more on that later…