Contracts & agreements in our first rehearsal

This post is part of a longer series documenting the process of creating a lecture demonstration entitled “Movement moves: translating dance” which will be presented at the CORD/SDHS joint conference at The Ohio State University in October, 2017. You can view other posts from this series here

During our first rehearsal, Charles and I came up with what I’d like to consider our contract for our process:

I don’t have to do anything you do. You don’t have to do anything I do. 

This emerged when I created a movement that descended to the floor and then Charles followed me there. Getting down to the floor and back up again is usually easy for Charles, but he’s recovering from a shoulder surgery that makes putting weight on one of his hands more difficult than normal. He did the movement throughout rehearsal to try to make it work but by the end decided he would rather do a different movement rather than go to the floor.

In many dance rehearsals or classes, I think the expectation (stated or not) is that everyone in the room shares a certain set of skills and should be able to do the same things. (And to be clear I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is a thing). Getting to say our “contract” out loud so early in the process was actually incredibly liberating and also fun: Charles and I are two different people with two different bodies and two different sets of abilities and proclivities, and we don’t have to mask that when we dance together. (I’m attempting to write about this in a rather cool manner, but inside I’m more like this because I think this one agreement is going to open up our process tremendously).

The other sort of agreement/mantra that came up in our first rehearsal is:

Challenged and Confident

Charles said that he would like to be “challenged and confident” in this process and in the performance, and I think this is a good sentiment for both of us to share. We discussed what being confident and being challenged might look like for each of us, and this set the tone for our movement explorations in our first session.

In our 90 minutes together, we developed

  • the structure for a shared warm-up which includes a short aerobic portion, activities to wake up our cores, and a few sequences to encourage range of motion that will probably change week to week (this week we did plies and releves and a shoulder roll sequence)
  • solo phrases driven by the idea of interrupting the flow of movement
  • a shared phrase that used elements of our solo phrases
  • an “action/reaction” duet in which Charles made a movement, and then I made a movement in response, Charles made a movement in response to that, I made a movement in response to that, etc. until we had a longer repeatable sequence
  • short cool-down/stretch

Next week, we will return to the material we created and dig in a little deeper. Here’s the short phrase we created using elements from each of our solo phrases.






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