Wednesday, July 20, 2011

design workshop

Last week I began a summer choreography workshop with Jacqueline's School of Ballet. The school is connected to a semi-professional ballet company here in the Valley called Utah Regional Ballet. The company has some very amazing young dancers, all of them are about my age. For two weeks in the summer they have a design workshop. This year, they have brought in Troy Mundy, who is a choreographer from Australia who has set and made work all around the world. I heard about the program from my friend Roxanne Gray, who I danced with at BYU. She did the camp last year and was excited to come again this year.

This is how it works:

In the morning, the dancers take a modern class and a ballet class. Roxanne and I try to go to the modern classes when we can. It is great to have the opportunity to take class again, and from a great teacher. Angie Banchero is faculty at UVU, and she is great fun. When I first met her, at least to my recollection it was the first time we met, she said "Oh my! You got married. I swear you guys are like my little 10 year olds!" What exactly she meant, I am not sure, but I wasn't aware that I had ever met her, and she definitely didn't know me when I was 10.

Then we get an hour with Troy. He has choreographic exercises and tasks for us to do. Some days it is writing a sentence about our bodies, then taking each letter in the sentence and writing a body part, then using those body parts to make up a phrase of movement. Some days it is creating four characters and using those characters as the inspiration for our movement. He has a lot of good ideas that I have never experienced before.

Then we eat lunch, quickly, and try to use as much of our free hour to plan what the heck we are going to do with our dancers.

After lunch we get 2.5 hours with a pre-determined set of dancers to create and teach some sort of piece. Some days you get 6 dancers, some days you get 18. Sometimes you have members of Utah Regional Ballet, and sometimes you have 10 year olds. It is quite a challenge with the varying degrees of abilities, not to mention the fact that you are just racking your brain and body to try to create something to show at 3:30. So you work, you have the dancers help you make stuff up, some like it, some hate it, sometimes they cry, sometimes they laugh, sometimes you are pleased at the end of the day, and sometimes you would rather shield your eyes and not watch.

All in all, it is a really great experience. I have explored new movement styles, new ways of approaching how I can choreograph, and how I can help instruct and use my dancers. It is extremely mentally draining, though. Yesterday began a two day project, so I should be using this time to plan and prepare what I am going to do with all the random scenes I created yesterday....

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