So we are getting ready for APAP this week, and trying to puzzle out how to condense our new work, ‘Zipper’ (which has not premiered yet, and is also not quite finished) into a 9 min. piece. It is an interesting conundrum to be in, but it is a nice challenge, and I think the program will be all the stronger for it. We had a visitor, Rachel, from Towson University, in for about a half hour on Friday–travelled all the way on her lunch break from a dance festival!
She confidently stated that even though it wasn’t very practical, she wanted to come over because she considered it the highlight of her trip. She also had a curious and mysterious answer for Chris when he asked what she thought of her brief glimpse into rehearsal. She seemed to understand the dynamic in the room, almost as if she knew us personally. You can imagine how delightful and touching her visit could be, in the middle of an ordinary day, when all perspective can get lost and we’re just trying to stay focused and slog through rehearsal as best we can.
After she left, we were all a bit inquisitive, so Chris gave us some background. He had set ‘Land Flat’, our women’s quartet from the 2006 season, on some of the
students. When they came in for their first rehearsal, he informed them that for this process they would now be referred to as their character names (the names of the women in the piece) — “Coco” “Brynne” “Jen” and “Dorian”.
I imagined this would help him distill the essence and connectivity of the work, since so much of who we are, as individuals, informs the breadth and body of the piece. This gave me a fresh perspective on how to reinterpret the role if and when it needs to be brought back for touring purposes; that the character, the role of “Jen” with-in the quartet as a whole, is just as important as relearning the movement content. Being ‘myself’, or ‘Jen’ as I am now would not be the same as relearning the “Jen” who has a character and specific dimension with-in the context of the piece.
It dawned on me that it functioned much more like a play than like a traditional dance– and Chris as much of a playwright as a choreographer– writing and shaping human characters. Our building process allows the work to move far beyond just a series of interesting movements strung together, and it creates this emotional,
yet abstracted; and personal, yet universal work.
Chris talks a lot about giving the audience “handles” in the work– a map to read it by if you will. This capacity to ‘humanize’ the process makes the process of learning a work of Misnomer’s much more difficult, but also that much more rewarding. Dancing and learning this work not only hones and displays copious movement skills, it really does make one a better thinker as well.
People ask me, as a founding member, why I have chosen to dance with this company so long, why I haven’t chosen to move on to another company or to other projects. Well, this is why. Nothing beats the thinking around here…. and the movement ain’t so shabby either.