Wrapping Up – Dance Composition Part XIV-XVIII

So, I know I never finished these posts. Unfortunately, Finals happened. Which, for me, is a two-week-plus process, since the dance classes have finals the week before Finals week, and sometimes the week before the week before Finals. Don’t ask me why, because I have no idea. So the last three weeks of April were pretty crazy for me, because finals, and Finals, and Student Dance Showcase ALL THE TIME, and dance eating my life, and graduation, and hanging out with my senior friends as much as humanly possible (much to the detriment of my introversion, but hey, it needs to get out more anyway). So, I’ll finish now, in a brief sort of way – Updates on our final rehearsal, tech rehearsals, and performances. =) And maybe later I’ll post some poetry for you all. If you’re really nice to me and I feel beneficent. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Final rehearsal! Yes, on my birthday. Because honestly, there’s not much I would rather have been doing on my birthday anyway. I have found that birthdays at school are very weird – I rarely have time to do anything special, much less open gifts people have sent me, until late at night, or even the next day. Or week. That’s what comes with having a birthday near the end of the semester, I suppose. So running our final rehearsal on my birthday was very much what I wanted to do. I’m so dang proud of my piece.

We had a studio reserved for three hours, and finished nearly an hour and a half early. My dancers are just that good. We ran the whole thing a few times, both in and out of costume. We also got accustomed to the space – I reserved 207, the big studio, which is where the first run of performances will be held. Rehearsing more than once at Tech Rehearsal in the space the piece will be performed in is always a good idea. Trust me, I know.

But the piece looks…Fantastic. I can’t say enough how proud I am with my dancers and Jared, and all the work they have done. It’s going to be perfect.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tech Rehearsal number one. Techs are always kind of fun, I think. I’ve always enjoyed them, anyhow. Almost more than dress rehearsals (although for the Student Dance Showcase, the two are really combined. We only get one run-through for both Tech and Dress combined). Watching my ladies and gentleman work was fantastic. And nerve-wracking. I didn’t expect to be this nervous about it. It’s only a tech rehearsal, for crying out loud, and I’m not even dancing! All I do is stand and watch. I have the easy job. Yet I was so nervous I was shaking. I suppose it’s this hard, putting a piece of my soul out there for others to see and photograph and judge, and mess up (seriously, those music guys had no idea what was up).

I have to remind myself that this is all out of my hands now. I have done all I can, in the time we had, to make it perfect. I have made changes to please myself, and I have made changes to please my audience, and I have made changes to please my dancers. I have run rehearsals for countless hours, and every time, I have watched my performers tackle everything I throw at them with grace and ease. It’s not in my hands anymore, and there is absolutely nothing I can do now to make the piece go better or worse. It’s in the hands of my performers to do that – and a more capable set of hands I couldn’t ask for. I trust them all completely, and have full faith in their ability to make this piece into something great.

So there’s no need for me to be nervous, right? I can do this.

Friday and Saturday, April 17 and 18, 2015

First round of performances? Complete.

And I am so, so, so thrilled. I honestly didn’t expect to like the piece in the Dow as much as I do. Honestly, at this point, I think I’ll like it better performed in the Dow dance studio than in the Knick theater. Here, the dancers are right up by the audience – barely a few feet away. The power that gives the dancers – incredible. There is nothing like being stared down by a girl scarcely two feet away, looking you dead in the face.

The studio is set up as a white-box theater – there is a white marley unrolled on the floor, white backdrops, and white wings set up. The contrast between this and my dancers is so strong and powerful. They are all in black, their hair mostly loose, and a little bit wild. Their makeup is dark and a little overdone, messy. Their faces, blank and expressionless. The emotion of the piece is to be portrayed through body and movement, not facial expression. Jared is in black as well. Tall and lordly, but still – after many hours correcting and tweaking his movement and carriage – approachable.

And the piece looks magnificent. I can’t stop smiling. I cheer for them – the whole room does. When the piece is over, the audience erupts. And I am floored.

After the performances, people keep coming up to me and my dancers with compliments and respect. I’ve done something amazing, and they have recognized it and loved it and ask me, where have you come from? Why have we not seen this before? My dance teachers come up to me with hugs and appreciation and – yes – awe.

How do these things happen?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tech Rehearsal round two. Since my piece is being performed both in the Dow and the Knick, I get two tech rehearsals, one for each. For this tech, Jard gets a mic (which takes some figuring out), and I get to sit up in the sound and lighting booth to watch. Erik, the sound and lighting and stage design genius of Hope College, asks me what I have in mind, and I tell him – I don’t know. Do your thing. We settle on a few spotlights in the right places, and a lighting change from the darker beginning to a more bright ending. Erik flicks through many different colored gels before he settles on one he likes. It’s exciting, watching everything from so high up – in the balcony. I’ve never been involved in this part of a dance production before.

Watching my ladies move, though, I realize that I already don’t like it so well here as I did in the Dow. The Knick is a black-box theater – the stage, wings, and scrim are all dark, and my dancers are blending in to the black backdrop. Erik suggests I find some color for them – something to make them stand out from the black. I agree.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Final performance. I spent the last few days running all over town looking for something colored for my dancers to wear. Eventually, we settle on just ditching the black, flowy shirts my dancers wore for the Dow shows, and having them in different colored tanktops. I don’t like the piece as well like this – but it works, and they stand out a bit more this way. Jared wears a gold belt, rather than his black one. It all works out in the end.

I am dancing in the first half of the show myself (a solo, which I choreographed. This is the first time I have ever danced my own choreography – the first time I have ever been on stage performing alone. It feels amazing). I sneak out from backstage during intermission, to watch the second half of the show from the balcony. My piece looks better than I thought it would, after Tech here. It doesn’t have quite the same power as it did in the Dow, but it still looks phenomenal. Here it is more a performance, where in the Dow, it invited (almost pulled) the audience right into the story. It’s a very different feel, but my dancers handle it well, and again, it looks stunning.

It’s hard to believe it’s over. This thing that has been consuming my life, my every waking thought, for the past two and a half months, is done. I’m not sure what I’ll do with myself, now, without this to think of, work on, concentrate my energy and enthusiasm on. Who knows – maybe now I’ll actually have time for homework again. ;)

Honestly, though, I am sorry it’s ended. I have so enjoyed every single step of this process – more than I ever thought possible. And I am excited to do it again next semester – because I will. I have to. I can’t let myself forget how amazing this has been, or discount and deny the comments I got from my audience, telling me how much they loved my work, how powerful they found it, how much they want to see more.

I can’t wait for the video to be released. I can’t wait to watch my dancers work again. It’s never anywhere near as good on film – but I can’t wait to see it. I’ll post the video here, when I get it – it won’t be for a while, most likely. Not until I am back on campus and can go to the Archives building and pester them about it a few times. ;)

Opening movement, Knick tech rehearsal, photo by Erik Alberg. Left to right – Gabby, Megan, Katie.
My three lovely girls before the Dow shows!
This pose has become affectionately known as the Kneeling-but-no-one’s-actually-kneeling pose. Clockwise from the top – Jared, Katie, Megan, Gabby. (and another dancer chillin’ in the background…;)
Look at those faces. =D
And there’s me! I’d like to point out how much taller Jared is than everybody. Like. I’m tall. But I’m wearing heels in this picture…

3 Comments Add yours

  1. sarahtps says:

    I’m glad the performances went well! (I was certain they would. :)) Are you going to post the video on here when it’s released?


  2. Lalaithiel says:

    It was so awesome to be able to go on this journey with you, and I’m very grateful you were able to post these updates. Congratulations on how well it went, and I can’t wait to watch it! =D



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