The Process of Creating Your Own Work

Aug

01

Contributed with introspection by Second Year Student Emma Welch


 


Thursday April 19, 2019

It is minutes before the second movement sharing. I stand in a circle with my peers, all clad in black. Our hands together, we breathe deeply and look into each other’s eyes (one of those cultish formations we are very used to as we come to the end of our TK training). I can’t help myself – tears flood my eyes. I feel immense love, gratitude, and pride for the people gathered around me. And for the work we have poured ourselves into and are about to share with another set of fresh eyes. Nate breaks the silence to call us to places.

Let’s do it again, b*tches.

 


 

 

TEN

DAYS

EARLIER…

 

 

 

Monday April 8th, 2019

There is only a week and a half before our first sharing. I am sitting on the floor of the cozy movement studio with my peers, workshopping pieces with Kana and Mack. The deadline feels very real today. In my head, I take stock of what I’ve worked on:

  • A clown piece I choreographed that I’m realizing seems to have nothing to do with what I’ve learned in movement class,
  • A campy animal piece that I’m also realizing seems to have nothing to do with what I’ve learned in movement class,
  • A manic group piece I’ve stepped into, and out of, and back into and have no idea what I’m doing,
  • A trio based on solos that I think I’ve totally sabotaged by being a control freak,
  • A duet I’ve never rehearsed,
  • A solo I haven’t created….

Looks like I’ve got nothing to show for myself, and have totally wasted my education.

F*ck. Me.

 

 

 

 

 

SO, WHAT CHANGED IN THOSE TEN DAYS??

 

 

Saturday April 13th, 2019

It is early morning the day of our last class before dress rehearsal. I’ve been working hard with my peers on other pieces. But I still feel like I need something that will really prove “what I’ve learned in movement class.”

I arrive to the Studio, large cold brew with oat milk in hand, determined to create that solo I’ve been putting off. I remember a lesson Kana gave us recently: a compositional tool of setting contrasting, repeatable movement ideas into a pattern (ie A B A C A D). With pregnant belly orbiting beautifully, she had demonstrated how clear and useful this tool was. I find a song and take this tool into my own hands…

“What’s my A?” I think to myself. “Ok I like that. Now what’s B? Does it contrast A enough? No, try another one… Oo, maybe add some more specificity in the articulation of the leg? Cool. Now, A and B both use micro space, maybe C should be macro …”

I go on like this for a few hours. Armed with a simple and clear structure, I stay focused and in my body rather than in my head. My face is beet red from the exertion, but I could go for hours. I feel confident, creative, and proud of how much I’ve grown over the term, and the last two years.

 

BUT THAT GROWTH ISN’T ALWAYS A STRAIGHT LINE…


 

SIX DAYS LATER…

 

 

Friday April 19th, 2019

I am sitting backstage during the second sharing. None of my work is landing on the audience the way it did last night (or, inside myself the way it did last night). My ideas in the improv piece were stupid and uninteresting; I was shaky in the big group piece; that clown piece wasn’t fun OR funny. I forgot how different audiences can be and I am disappointed in myself for being so affected…. All these indulgent, self-effacing thought patterns I’ve worked so hard to overcome are overpowering me and I feel like a failure. My peers sense something’s off and reassure me: “It’s going great.” But I want to hide. Dear God, I don’t want to do my solo…

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATER THAT SAME NIGHT 

 

 

 

 

 

We are gathered to debrief the sharing. I admit my negative experience, feeling ashamed but knowing speaking it is important. Some of my classmates echo me, others felt a growth from last night. It is a grab bag of different experiences. Nate says this is all ok – it is part of being performers. Kana assures us we had a strong show; our ideas were more specific than last night as jitters had settled.

After, my dear classmate Jonathan (who hasn’t been performing with us because of an injured back) pulls me aside and says my solo was the best he’s ever seen it. And the clown pieces were super strong. He was shocked to hear I felt so off, and I am shocked to hear his thoughts. It is one of those moments I realize how isolating and narrowing my own perspective can be. What caused me to judge my work so harshly? How will I ever know how an audience is feeling? I realize these are the questions that will always be with me. My brain is buzzing with reflection….

 

 

 

 

LET’S TAKE A BREAK FROM ALL THIS DANG SELF-REFLECTION :WHAT IS THIS “CLOWN PIECE” SHE KEEPS TALKING ABOUT??”

 

SEVEN AND A HALF WEEKS PRIOR….

 

 

 

Monday February 25th, 2019

It’s about a month into the semester. We were tasked to find a piece of music, and explain what we “saw” when we listened to it (a movement idea, however specific or vague). The room is bouncing with creativity. I have chosen the Brazilian classic “Aguas de Março.” “So, Emma, what do you see?” asks Nate. I guide my eager volunteers into my 2-part vision. ‘The clowns’ – Jordan, Beatriz and Jonathan who I have instructed to simply try to be in the middle of the other two (creating a comedic frenzy). And ‘the horse:’ Alexandra and Jackie who I have instructed to crawl across the room on all fours as Mona sits on their backs in an elegant pose. It is delightfully bizarre. I’m amazed the idea went from my head into the bodies of my peers so smoothly. I’m hesitant about whether this is the type of work for the sharing, but I really want to develop it.

 

 

 

FLASH-FORWARD SEVEN AND A HALF WEEKS…

 

 

Thursday April 18th, 2019

It is the first movement sharing. We’ve never run the show all the way through and we have no idea if we’re going to make it. We’re riding on good vibes and hard work. Clowns #1 is up next (my piece has stood the test of time! although it’s made some changes along the way – we’ve ditched the horse, split it into two parts, and lost Jonathan, who’s place I am now filling in). The music comes on, and we begin. Henry (Terry and Sinead’s son) is seated in the front row and, immediately, he is hooked. His joyous laughter spurs me on and I have the time of my life sharing the piece, Beatriz and Jordan killing it by my side. (I still have my doubts whether the piece showcases anything I’ve learned in movement class, but I know it didn’t come out of nowhere, and I am proud of the joy it brought all.) The night is a success across the board. Watching my peers, I reflect on the growth I’ve seen in their work as well as mine…

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO…    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday April 6th, 2019

Cat and her team of boys are workshopping what we call “Suspension.” We haven’t seen this piece since Saturday March 2nd (an extremely exciting day in which the idea was brought to class by Cat and stunningly improvised by the boys; I remember literally squealing with delight when Robert was suspended off the ground for at least 30 seconds straight). The piece the team has brought us today is worked-out, smooth, and riveting. I am so proud of them. It’s clear what time and collaboration can do. I am inspired to find the same simplicity and clarity in my work.

 

 

 

 

ABOUT A MONTH PRIOR….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday March 4th, 2019

We are still early on in the process, trying new compositional exercises from Nate & Kana every class. Today, we are given 10 minutes to create a 30 second solo, using different tools we’ve learned (ie 10 seconds of stillness, different levels, laban drives, asymmetry, etc etc, jargon jargon jargon). I sit and watch what my peers have created. I’m reminded of a similar exercise from last year. When asked, then, to create a solo, we were extremely resistant. Many of us spent the 10 minutes mostly in our heads. The task seemed almost insurmountable, and the work that resulted was lost and underdeveloped. Today, I notice an absolute evolution in the work of my peers. (Motherf***ing pokémon up in here!) They are not only moving in more interesting and compelling ways, I can see the presence of the “choreographer” in their work – their choices are more specific and ideas more sophisticated. I can literally see “growth” embodied right in front of me. (And I feel it inside of me as well.) No matter what happens with the sharings, I can confidently say that I’ve learned so much and I do not regret for a moment taking this class.

 

 

 

 

 

……….WELL, AS WITH MOST CREATIVE ENDEAVORS, WE WERE TAUGHT THAT OUR PIECES SHOULD HAVE A BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND END. THROUGH MANY DRAFTS, I’VE FOUND THAT THE BEST WAY TO END THIS HERE BLOG PIECE IS TO TAKE IT BACK TO THE VERY BEGINNING….

 

 

 

 

 

Sometime in the late fall, 2018

It is our last Level 3 class. Nate is telling us about the next section of the work: the infamous “Movement Four” (ooo aahhh). His informational spiel seems to have a note of warning in it. He tells us about the immense amount of work we will have to do outside of class work, the shifting of responsibility onto our shoulders, the tendency for students to fall behind, etc. It is the first time at TK Studio that we will be sharing any work to people outside the classroom. It sounds daunting, it sounds tasking… aaand it sounds freaking AWESOME. Like an exuberant quarterback in some high school movie, I’m thinking “put me in coach!!” Or, as Terry would encourage us to say ….. “I’m all in.”


 

 

 


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