I have been working with Valerie for 10 years and the rehearsal process of creating Utopia has been a very different one: collaborative, challenging, tedious, and rewarding. Utopia's collaborations of visual artist, Keren, musical score composer, Mark, Valerie, 5 dancers (then 7) and 5 ten foot poles (and then 10) is probably the biggest collaborative work I have ever been a part of. Today, I thought I would share a little bit about what I have been feeling throughout this process.
For me personally, the most difficult collaborative partner has been the pole I am dancing with. The poles just have a mind of their own. They are inconsistent and no help at all. They fall, they waiver on the break of falling, they hit dancers, walls, ceiling and floor (basically anything in a 10 foot radius). The challenge has been to become one with the pole and make it an extension of my own movement. Now that I am on a friendlier terms with the poles, it has almost become fun (still a little nerve wrecking). The inconsistency of dancing with these inanimate objects has given me an artistic license to be creative, problem solve and react to the unexpected making each run thru a completely different experience and hopefully in the end a successful performance.
Besides the challenges with the poles, Utopia has an added element of creating an environment. Artistically, this has been challenging because it is not just executing movement and it's not the intention in which you put behind the movement. It is something more than that. It has been a process to find a way to provoke certain moods of sections so the audience can join me on this journey to finding utopia. I want them to feel the internal and external stresses, struggles, minor achievements and failures I encounter on the pathways to attaining utopia.
We have been in the studio working for over a year, and at a certain point there is a sense of monotony with doing the same thing every rehearsal. The struggle of keeping the movement fresh, and continuing to dig deeper and find new ways to layer all aspects of my performance has been a continual process. With this being said, I think I have been working really hard to keep exploring. I hope with this continual searching whatever is exposed in my movement and self expression in the performances makes the audience feel something that evokes an emotional response within them. As well as, grabs their attention and keeps their interest to come along with me on my journey to finding utopia.
I always find that a performance after a long rehearsal process is so rewarding. There is a sense of attaining a goal, closure, wishing I could have done something different, or better, a sadness that it is over, and how am I going to improve on my performance when we revisit this piece in the future. In the end, I hope that all of this work culminates into a strong technical, emotional and artistically stimulating performance for myself and the audience.
After writing all of this, I am realizing these performances are my personal utopia. This rehearsal process, has been my journey leading up to the perfection I have been striving to create and attain in performance. While I am sure every night will be different, with good and bad moments, mistakes, and unexpected situations, I hope each night to come closer to that perfect performance. I hope you can all attend the show and share in my experiences of this rehearsal process (journey) as you see them in the premier of Utopia!
Photo Credit Elbert Mills