Choreography Workshop: Challenging the Process

In the 1st year MFA cohort’s Choreography Workshop, Susan Petry, has guided us through challenging our “normal” or “go to” approaches to the creative process. Over the last 13 weeks I questioned what my “normal” is and I began to ask why is my normal that way? Here are some thoughts on what I’ve discovered:

  • I spend a large portion of time thinking, pondering, wondering, and building a timeline in my head prior to jumping into movement.
  • I work with metaphors, imagery, clichés, and colloquialisms as source material for my movement.
  • I implement improvisational discovery as a way to develop movement.

How have I challenged these processes? In this class we were given the opportunity to choose two prompts provided on a list, by Susan Petry, for us to individually explore how to navigate these prompts and challenge ourselves through the limitations of the prompts. I chose:

  • Make a 10 minute dance, in 10, 10 minute rehearsals. I’ve created a dance theatre solo on my body, incorporating comedy, while creating in a confined space–a bathroom. The solo follows a person that is navigating their normal bodily responses within an imaginative and creative approach to how we move in a bathroom. Small little blips of very different pieces of music abruptly change and influence how the character reacts to various aspects of the bathroom. Why is this a challenge? Because I have a fear of making comedy on myself. Is it actually going to translate as funny? Is it only funny to me? Because I am working in extremely small conditions to move and create in. Because I’m working without music first, then adding later, using a music genre that is a little out of the norm for my movement style. What have I discovered? It is so important of artists to constantly challenge what is comfortable, to create things that are in low-stake positions, and to make, make, make, regardless of necessity or deadline.
  • Create a plan for a site-specific piece. Really the challenge with this prompt was to envision dance in different spaces. It is normal and easy for me to think and create for a proscenium, concert space. I wanted to explore what would need to change in my though process as I envisioned what the site-specific piece could become. It forced me to look in a big-picture mindset, thinking of funding, legalities, timing, production, and practicalities.

We also were instructed to create two prompts for ourselves, I created the following:

  • A Missed Opportunity: rediscover and older piece of choreography and adhere it to where I am at currently in my development, social awareness, and agency. This has challenged me to work deeply, pulling away from the original source material, and in turn create new within an old idea.
  • An exchange of words. Kathryn Sauma and I have exchanged writing samples and are creating from the other person’s words. I gave her a short story, and I received a poem. I’ve challenged myself to work completely out of the context of the words and only create with the verbs of the poem. I’ve scrambled the verbs, by chance, into an order, and have by chance assigned body parts for the verb and movement to accentuate. Lastly, I’ve also thrown in random tools to influence the timing of the movements, for example, use of repetition, slow motion, inversion, and retrograde. although the movements are sourced from words inside of the poem, the movement’s meaning is pulled away from the original source and created merely by chance of the draw. This pulls me out of the why for the movement and puts me into the embodiment and confinement of the “rules.”

This class has really pulled my focus further outside of myself, created opportunities for feedback from my peers, and challenged my personal fears. I’m excited to refer back to these moments and bring them into my future creations. Make, make, make, and grow, grow, grow.


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