Sunday, October 2, 2011

Transition Time

There's a moment in every creative process where the thing is "done enough."  The choreographer steps away and hands the piece over to the dancers.  It will be our job, from that moment on, to take care of the work -- to develop, nurture and explore its revelations.

This is a huge responsibility.

The piece is not finished; it's just that the formal creative process has come to an end.  The choreographer may make tweaks later -- months, sometimes a year later.  The rehearsal director will help us stay tight and focused with all of the detail.  We will perform and rehearse the piece many, many times.  It's ours now.

As a work transitions from creation and rehearsal to performance, it undergoes a significant transformation.  In our case, we roll down the elevator from the studio into the theater.  We feel the difference immediately.  Somehow, the air is different; the atmosphere more formal, more serious, more ... hushed.  We fill the space up with our laughter and shouts; we dump our stuff on the front row, wheel over the little mats with the wheelchair accessible symbol on them and leap onto the stage marley.  As we warm up, lights go on and off; people run around with mics and clipboards.  There's a good deal of organizing and then everyone is ready.  We are for the first time about to experience the lighting design.

During tech week, we will go over the piece again and again.  The scrim will be installed; the lights set and focused.  The stage crew will figure out what needs to go where, when, and who will move it.  The sound volumes will be set and the light and sound cues written.  Everyone will practise running it.  Sometimes, we will go full out; sometimes, we will do a cue-to-cue.

We will set our stuff up backstage -- figure out who changes where, where the lights will be, the heater (it's really cold in this particular theater).  We will reacquaint ourselves with the floor -- this one has some unusual rolling spots -- and we will practice taking account of the floor.  We will space -- again and again -- until we know by muscle memory how much force it takes, how many pushes, where people will be in order to not crash into each other, keep the sightlines and maximize the movement.

And despite all this rehearsing, we won't know how things actually will be until we've done the piece.  Until an audience has seen it.  Until *we've* seen, heard, and felt an audience as we perform it.  (Yes, we can tell when you are utterly focused and when you are bored/distracted/not with us.)  I won't know how I feel about this piece until the first run is over, and I've had a couple of days to live with what happened.

It's a huge responsibility to take this thing and to offer it to you.


  1. thank you for the hours you spend preparing your offering.

  2. I just found your blog. I was born with cerebral palsy and due to my back breaking a few years ago, I have been in a wheelchair for several years. Keep doing what you do. I'm sure it's breathtakingly beautiful!