An Open letter to the Frame Dancers


Dear Frame Dancers,

This in apology in advance for nightmare I will soon inflict upon you.  Dexterous?  You will be!  Start those finger push-ups.  And start memorizing these:

Don’t worry.  I only need you to practice numbers 5 through 10.  On each hand.  In cannon, both hands moving at the same rate.  In 6/8 time.  Just a little head’s up!



Productivity, I breathe you in


I’ve been making movement phrases lately: stringing them together, chopping them up, trying to set them specifically to music, and then ignoring and layering on top of music.  Basically playing around.  I wrote an earlier entry about how I work to create these.  To summarize, I don’t dance fully when creating.  But I have continued to think about why I do this (or don’t do this).  And I think it has to do with me not wanting to commit to a certain energy or emphasis while still in the beginning of the process.  It’s like stream of conscious writing, not stopping to commit to writing on a certain subject.  Actually, I don’t think that’s a very good analogy.  Stream of conscious writing is most similar to improvisation, which is not what I’m doing here. I’m creating the words of a sentence and after I see them written down, spelled correctly, and thought through, I can begin to add things like tempo, dynamics, facings, pathways…  Of course, some movements lend themselves to very specific dynamics and then I can choose to go with that or work against it.  It’s all a matter of choices, really.  Once the material is out there, then the fun begins.  But for now I have some more refining to do.

Panther Falls


Here are some images of Panther Falls which is were I spent several hours this weekend.  Look familiar?  If so, I’m impressed.  This is the site of the advertising image for Halestones’s Concert, “Older than the Mountains.”

Older than the Mountains

Absolutely beautiful.  The rocks are placed to frame the water so perfectly that just sitting there was enough experience for me.  But then this little voice came into my head–words I had written in a previous post.  Let me find them…

Beauty surrounds us,

But usually we need to be walking

In a garden to know it. (rumi)

After I arrived at the Dancers House (the most beautiful, calming, creative space I could imagine) I walk to Halestone to watch some of the dancers rehearse.  Walking to the studio, I was reminded of that Rumi stanza above.  The act of walking—it’s like participating in the beauty.  There’s a deepening of beauty when we can experience it as opposed to seeing or hearing about it at a distance.  Walking in Lexington is like that…recognizing and feeling the beauty of the area and the people and the town.  And then comes an active pulse or current of energy.

Yeah…so…somehow I needed to experience this beauty.  Watching isn’t enough for me, eh?  Let me tell you, the water was cold.  I’ll be the first to admit my aversion to water colder than 75 degrees, and this was chilly.  My artsy-experience-it-all-even-if-it-gets-in-the-way-of-comfort-we’ve-artificially-grow-accustomed-to mantra was falling farther and farther away from my priorities.  Looking and enjoying and breathing in this experience was more than enough!  More than Houston could offer!  It was settled, that was enough for me.

Time ticked and I couldn’t stop thinking about that stupid soap box about “walking” in nature I spoke from last week.  Wimp?  Hypocrite?  Sissy?  Well there was no way in world that I would be jumping off the cliff/rock into the water.  Unfortunately, I’m far too careful a person to even consider that.  Actually that’s probably the very reason I wouldn’t do it.  I would consider doing it.  I saw several brave souls jumping off those rocks and realized that in order to do that, you just have to go for it.  Not think about it.  I’m not so good about that.

So I worked my way in, feet, ankles, knees, fish nibbling at me and all.  Those jumping from the rocks created enough splash that I eventually got wet and figured I should just get in.  So I did.  I swam around, walked around and shortly realized I had had enough.  It wasn’t bad, but that was all I really needed to do to “walk” in the beauty.  What happened next was quite unfortunate.  As I came to shallow water to climb out of the swimming hole, my feet slipped around on the rocks from the algae.  The current was quite strong and it pushed me over the rocks down a small water fall until my legs landed straight down onto a rock.  I was in a vertical standing position, stuck between the top edge of the waterfall and the bottom rocks.  I was literally stuck due to the slippery rocks and the strong current.  One of the jumpers saw me half-laughing and half-panicked as I squirmed to try to get out.  But I was one-handed because my bathing suit top had come unlatched.  He came over and with one hand holding my top on and the other held by the jumper he pulled me (with all his might, may I add) to the dryer rocks.  Thank you, sir.

So after that incident you may guess that I had had enough.  No.  I will not be defeated by the Panther Falls.  After a short break, and after the coaxing of some others, I jumped into the deeper end and swam to the larger falls you see in the pictures above.  I was not going to end on that humiliating note.  And I didn’t.  It was successful, and I came away with a funny story.  All in all, a beautiful day.

introvert? extrovert?


I don’t think I would ever  jump to answer this question with the response, “extrovert.”  But introvert…I don’t know…

Spending time in the creative process is doing much to jostle my opinion about how I work and process movement.  To be honest, I’ve always been a little bit disappointed in how I naturally produce movement.  I wish I were one of those dancers who could see an empty studio and dance for hours finding new ways to move and dancing to the point of exhaustion.  It would be better for my figure.  But I don’t process like that.  I picture it in my mind for a very long time.  I write it out, with words and diagrams.  Sometimes my Laban certification comes in handy.  Sometimes.  And when I start to create movement with my body I do it very small.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ve been forced to learn to conserve energy so much for performance or the many, many runs of pieces that I’ve had to do with one particular company (if you danced with me, you KNOW which one I’m talking about) that I don’t possess the discipline to exert it when it’s not necessary, but preferable.

Yesterday I spend several hours creating a new phrase, but I couldn’t bring myself to dance the entire thing, beginning to end, full out by myself.  I’d do parts.  I’d do the whole thing small.  But it wasn’t until I had two dancers from CDCT there to set the movement on that I could really dance it full out, with them.

Is it a “performer” thing?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s an energy thing.  A community thing.  A social thing?  ehhh… I don’t know about that one either.  Still trying to figure it out.  Does anyone else work this way?

site non-specific


Part of what excites me most about creating a piece for the CAM (Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston) is the space.


I won’t know until August what art will be displayed, how much room it will occupy, how it will be arranged…  Theaters exist to highlight the action in the space; they are frames that visually diminish to accentuate what is going on in the space.  When we watch a performance our eye is instinctively drawn to the action in the space, and we naturally ignore peripheral architecture.  But what happens when the “frame” is art, making a statement as it exists on its own?  How does this shape my piece?  Suddenly, it’s a collaboration with every artist with a piece in the room.  In addition, people will be observing art in the museum as my dancers dance the piece.  This adds dimension to the relationships of the dancers with each other, with the art, and with the museum guests.

I’ve never been a fan of “breaking the fourth wall” when the audience is trapped in their seats.  I’m usually very uncomfortable when I can’t choose to move or shift my physical body and location as performers get closer, and closer…my inner-dialogue usually goes something like this: ” ahhh!  stay on the stage.  this is awkward, I can’t move, don’t come closer, yeah, good, go over there, awaaaaay from me…I hope they won’t try to get me out of my seat…or worse, SAY something!”  This may sound extreme, but I almost feel attacked.  But this work will be different, because the viewers can roam free, get as close to the dancers as they wish…or, as far.  The viewer has the control.

So my approach to this work is to create a score.  The work will not be site specific, but it will be site non-specific.  I am working with “landmarks” as opposed to blocking the piece for the site.  As a dancer, I don’t enjoy moving a piece that was created for specific dimensions to a place where the integrity of the work is compromised due to the space.  It ends up being an avoidance of the space instead of being a part of the space.  So instead, I’m choosing to leave the physical location aspect of the choreography–coordinates, if you will–as variables.   When I say landmarks, I mean that each time we dance this piece–in rehearsal or performance–we will have two types of them:  one, there are places in the score where I will instruct the dancers where to dance that section specific to the space; two, there will be sections where the dancers will choose where to dance that section in the space in that moment due to walking traffic, obstructions, art installations etc.  Theoretically, this piece could be performed in any space that has room to move and a surface for video projection.

About that—video projection–that’s another aspect of this piece that I’m quite excited about.  Yesterday I did a lot of filming for it.  But I can’t give you too many details!  We still have a couple months to go and I can’t spill everything.  But the concept is for the video to wash over the bodies, incorporating the live bodies into premeditated and edited video work.

That’s all for now!  Looking forward to teaching a master class tonight!

the in-between stuff


I have been thinking about the questions I’ve posed to you.  I still encourage any comments you have–and there’s no “deepness” quota, anything goes.  What do you hide from others?

I’ve been thinking about the “in-between stuff.” I often measure myself by landmarks, or experiences, or accomplishments.  That’s what I present for people to see.  A resume, a list.  And that’s not wrong, or ill-representative of who I am, but it is just selective.  It’s easier to discuss events than emotions.  It’s hard to explain hibernation when people understand hunting and gathering.  But what happens in between those events are who we really are.  Transitions, denouements, anticipations.

Today when I went walking, I was vigorously pulled into the architecture in this town.  And when I looked closer, it was actually the materials that intrigued me today.  Brick and stone.  A lot of brick and stone.  And because of the history of Lexington, I saw generations upon generations of stone.  I saw deterioration, grass and plants finding their ways through cracks and brand new, in-process brick walls being built.  When I look at stone buildings, that’s just what I see–stone.  But what is holding the originally free standing materials together?  Mortar.  It’s the secret of the wall.  Thinking about these two concepts, I almost feel fooled.  I don’t notice the mortar, I notice the brick/stone.  But it’s there: plain, obvious, existent.  Are the things we hide–because they are inherently part of us– just as obvious as the mortar holding together the brick?  Are we fooling ourselves?

What do you hide–even if you don’t realize it?