Saturday, February 28, 2009
Let's talk about 'Alice,' Part One: The Caterpillar
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, people! I am having WAY too much fun choreographing on this thing. I recently returned home from a rehearsal/costume fitting for the Caterpillar scene; a rehearsal that left me feeling literally giddy with joy.
There's no point in having one dancer portray the caterpillar-- not enough legs-- so instead, I have a corps of about fifteen dancers working together to portray one gigantic critter. At the beginning, the process was difficult for me-- lots of bodies sharing one small rehearsal room and trying not kill each other, the challenge of working with Stravinsky music, lots of bodies trying to move together as one, lots of bodies trying to move together as one when the walls are a little too close together, all my inspiration ran away from me, ohdeargodwhatwasithinking, I am never going to get this done, this was SO NOT A GOOD IDEA on my part. And then...and then!... it happened. I thought I would finish the choreography, like, a week before the show; yet one afternoon in the beginning of February, there it was. I was shocked when I choreographed the last eight counts and then got to tell the dancers "And that's it!"
Here's something awesome: when the process is hard for the choreographer, it's usually equally hard (if not harder) for the dancers...if you've worked with a choreographer who's creatively having a Bad Time Of It, you will likely agree that the tension in the studio can only be cut with a chainsaw. But these guys...they love it! Even during a difficult rehearsal, they kept saying "I love this dance, Ms. Butterfly!"
Oh, and I still haven't told you the real kicker: They're kids. Mm-hm. Yeah. KIDS. Between ages eleven and sixteen. Kids who can deal with me. Kids who are dancing TO STRAVINSKY. I love ol' Igor's music to no end, but counting that music it is slightly less complicated than building a nuclear reactor out of wristwatch parts with your teeth. These kiddos, they deserve a medal.
Today we all rehearsed together in the large rehearsal room, they were fitted in their costumes, and their parents got to watch the dance. Their costumes are green and black hooded unitards, and when I saw them rehearse in the costume I practically shreiked because IT LOOKED SO COOL. Usually, any costume fitting that involves unitards will include much depression, tears, and wrist-slitting; but that wasn't even the case here (that said, they are not made of spandex or lyrca. Many of the girls have room to spare in that costume. Oh, to be little and skinny like that again...). The girls were all super-excited about their neat-looking costumes; parents came up to me afterward and told me how much they liked the dance. Most importantly, the director likes it. Yay!
Needless to say, I left the dance studio with good spirits and feeling super-proud of the children. I'm almost compelled to print this out and take it to the school as a way of saying "I know it's not easy, but I'm proud of the way you all are handling this thing," ... except that everyone would know that I'm a total degenerate who ignores all forms of proper writing techniques. So, I'll just have to settle for smiling at the kiddos when I go to our next rehearsal (the piece still needs cleaning, of course; but our current progress makes me pretty gosh-darn exuberant).
Stay tuned for next time, when I tell you about our Minkus-mania and the awesome scene with the King of Hearts.