Night before the dress rehearsal. It’s 11 pm and I’m still on on the sidewalk spray-painting my beautiful Mission-style dining room chairs a metallic silver, after spending way too many hours with Katarina covering their endless slats with gaffer’s tape. Back aching, head thick from breathing paint fumes. It starts to rain again, creating splotches all over the wet paint. Someone from the contact jam comes outside, yells at me about the fumes and storms off. I feel like an idiot, reflecting that perhaps we could have spent some money on a set designer, or I could have listened to Katarina when she suggested that we find some old chairs that I don’t care about.
Wishing that I had a few more days before the premiere to take care of my body, catch up on my sleep, take a yoga class, work on my solo. Then I remember, wait, it’s the process that I love. This is it. Life, art, life. It’s not about getting it perfect.
Last week I heard a famous writer on the radio say, “In order to be really good at anything you have to believe in it.”
I do believe in the process of making art. Of bringing the unnamable into form. Imagination, sensation, feeling, design. That feeling of excitement at infinite possibility. As a child I loved to go into Grandma’s closet to find strange old clothes smelling like mothballs and make plays using them as costumes. Being inspired by all the sci fi stories I’ve loved and making cyberpunk sets out of my dining room chairs for a dance piece isn’t all that different, at the end of the day.
Yes I’m feeling tired, but also excited and grateful. Excited to finally be sharing the work with the public. Grateful for the support we’ve received these last 4 months which has made it possible to take this piece to a new place.
Being able to rehearse in the theater, in the same space where we’ll perform has been such a blessing. But that’s just been the tip of the iceberg. I see how much further the work has come because of the infrastructure that CounterPULSE has provided in the working process. Production deadlines, public relations, technical support, work-in-progress showings… and most importantly, human support: Knowing that someone believes in what you’re doing, even when – especially when – the work is still in an early, raw state. This residency has been a gift on so many levels.
I’m very grateful to Katarina Eriksson, my dance collaborator. I’ve so appreciated not only her fabulous dancing, but also her zen focus, patience, planning skills, flexibility, humor, imagination and openness to my wacky ideas. We share a lot in our passion for movement research and improvisation, our willingness to explore the unknown and to keep asking questions. We also have different strengths that complement each other well. Two heads are indeed better than one.
Working with Jerry Smith has also been very satisfying. This was my first collaboration with a videographer and it felt like a risk, having seen a lot of unsuccessful dance and new media collaborations over the years. His work shows a nuanced sensibility to the dance, to the images and atmospheres we wanted to create in the space. His video images complemented without overpowering the dance and provided an important context which helped our ideas to be communicated.
We are also very grateful to composer Aaron Zimm (www.quietamerican.org), who generously allowed us to use his music. His beautiful and evocative compositions were made from field recordings in Vietnam.
And last but not least, many thanks to our lighting designer Andrew Packard, whose curiosity and involvement in the process of making of the piece went far above and beyond making it look good under lights..
3/8 Post performance note:
It has been so interesting and different for us to perform this piece to three sold-out houses on the same program with Amara Tabor Smith’s powerful work about the politics of food. As a result, many people were exposed to our work who would otherwise never have seen it and vice-versa. While the styles of our two dance pieces could not have been more different, the content felt very connected – personal, visceral and universally human themes were addressed in both pieces. Hats off to Jessica Robinson for bringing Amara, Katarina and I together in this residency!
I’m excited about how ANIMoid has grown through its performances. These last few nights I’ve experienced a deep physical and intuitive logic from beginning to end of the piece. Performing it was quite an intense journey. I embodied creatures, states and energies which are certainly parts of “me” but don’t often get to see the light of day. Especially the first half of the piece took tremendous focus to perform, as we morphed from a state of suspended animation, into reptilian bodies, into my “Transformer” solo, into being warm-blooded mammals driven by sensation and desire. I feel satisfied that our rather complex ideas about human embodiment and evolution have come to life in dynamic, playful and sometimes challenging ways. The baby has been born and I’m curious to see where it will go from here!