I am deep in the throes of Dance Composition I with Steven Iannacone. Look up that word, throes. It’s classified by the almighty Google as “intense or violent pain and struggle, especially accompanying birth, death, or great change,” perhaps related etymologically to the Old English words thrēa, thrawu, “calamity,” and thrōwian, “suffer.” All of that is accurate.
Dance Composition, affectionately known as just Comp among those of us who are acquainted with its…intricacies, has an intense reputation. And it’s not completely a good one. Students have been known to leave the dance studios after an hour and fifty minutes of Comp with Steven in tears, on occasion.
But for all that, Comp is amazing. I said I am deep in it’s throes – and I am. I complain about it often, and dread Tuesday and Thursday afternoons nearly every week. But “throes” do not signify only pain and struggle. They also signify birth, death, and great change, according to the almighty Google. It knows. Amidst the insane 2:00am bouts of choreography in the hallway outside my apartment suite, the mad rush before class to look busy when Steven walks into the studio and declares us a morgue, and the shame that comes from being called out for having less choreography than anyone else, there is the glow of pride when Steven has nothing negative to say, the almost giddy joy when he says that we’re pushing ourselves and improving, and the great uplifting of the soul when he pushes back in his chair and shouts, “Yes! This is the power of fourteen Hope College women! Someone get me a whiskey!”
Comp is painful. But Comp is growing me in ways I didn’t know I could stretch. And you know, I think I’m doing pretty dang well, for never having any experience with choreography before in my life. I’m learning. It’s uncomfortable and hard, and I shall heave a great sigh of relief when this semester ends and I am released from Comp, but it’s good for me, and I feel more confident in my skill as a dancer already.
We are required to choreograph a group piece with three or more dancers, to be performed at the Student Dance Showcase in April. I would like to chronicle my creative process for that here – partially because it’s something to write about, and partially because, if I do, there’s a chance I could submit an abstract about my work to the Celebration of Undergraduate Research next year, and present my work there. I’d like to do that – I’d like for dance choreography to be recognized as a process of creative research, which it is. And I’d like to show off my work – if it’s any good. I think it will be. I’m already excited.
As the rest of the semester progresses, I hope to post weekly or bi-weekly updates on my choreographic process. I am already a couple weeks into working on my piece, so I have a bit of catching up to do first. I don’t have much time to write, but when I do next, I will introduce you to the concept behind my piece, my dancers, and the preliminary research which began my choreographic process.