Beginning The Countdown

I have been fairly MIA in recent weeks.  Our training, commitments, and personal lives have simultaneously exploded into a frenzy after the realization of how much time we actually have left in the program – 6 weeks.  When I am not working on my final piece, I am cramming in as much training on my secondary apparatus and trying to take as many extra classes as possible, while still searching for contracts and planning what happens when it’s all over.

My attention was directed to work shopping my final piece in hopes of  having something presentable for the critique process, which took place two weeks ago.  I was worried I wasn’t going to make it through my piece, since every time I had tried to run it before the showing, I stopped halfway because I had either sunk too low on the chain, or simply ran out of strength.  Almost every day, I curse at myself for deciding to concentrate on a chains piece in the last 2+ months of the program.  Not only that, but I have chosen one of the more difficult ways to hang the chain as it requires a lot of brute strength, endurance, and pain tolerance, coupled with the desire to be “delicate flower” and not a hardened biker chic, and I’ve definitely pushed myself so far over my own physical limits that my body is cracking slowly.  (I took a rest day yesterday in an effort to patch those fissures, primarily the ripped callouses of my palms and punctuated bruising on my shins)

The week of routine showing/critiquing followed the Liz Lerman Process – a method of giving feedback that removes as much subjectivity as possible out of the feedback and is designed to promote thought in the artist.  For instance, rather than saying “i liked when you did transition A,” an audience member would say, “When transition A happened, I felt (insert colorful descriptor here)”.  Similarly, the artist had several questions prepped for the audience, such as “Were there any moments in the choreography that did not follow the same flow as the bulk of the piece?” or “The overall mood of the piece was intended to be angsty, does my costuming reflect that?”.  After this, the audience has a chance to ask questions, but again, removing any subjectivity/opinion/biases.  So, rather than asking “Why?” the audience would ask “What was your intention?”  At first, remembering the language was hard, and some had a more difficult time than others when it came to withholding opinions.  For me, if I really enjoyed an element of a piece, or a piece in it’s entirety, it was very challenging not to say “OH MY GOD THAT WAS FANTASTIC YOU ARE SO AMAZING!!” and remember to phrase it via Liz lingo: “This moment in the piece made me feel ecstatic, excited, nervous, and so very very proud of you!”

The process took an entire week, and was a big physical and mental drain on all of us.  Immediately following my showing, I scrapped about half of my choreography as well as my entire costume and started anew.  The piece of feedback that really struck me was this biker chic/Western vibe I was giving off, which is exactly the opposite of what I was going for.  Rather than being the dancer that manipulates the chain, I want to be the vine that grows around it, portraying a soft, yet free-willed movement that overcomes the relentless barricade of emotions.

fragments

Still, it’s all starting to come together, and I am working on convincing myself that even as time ticks down quickly, it’s all going to fall into place as we approach show time.

Hanging in There

I am the type of person that needs to have a physical day planner to survive life.  Not only do I need a physical book to log and look at, everything within it is color-coded, so that at a glance, I know exactly what is happening and what the priority is.  Blue is for school, green is for work, yellow is for due-dates, purple is for pay days, and pink is for extracurricular.  My book is mostly blue, followed closely by green.  And pink and purple feel almost non existent, while the yellow is always surprising (my rent is due today? what?)

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I’m not complaining though, because seeing all that blue means most of my time is spent hanging around – quite literally.  Out of curiosity, I counted how many weeks we have left in the program – this epic 9 month adventure we undertook.  The quickly dwindling number was bittersweet.  Nine months is not a long time at all, yet the days have all blurred into one and I feel like I have been here for ages, so having a blank schedule again sounds rather appealing.  On the other hand, aerial dance gives me so much inspiration and appreciation, I cannot imagine doing anything else.  The completion of this program results in our mama bird coaches pushes us out of the nest and telling us to fly with our own two wings, yet I still feel like a baby aerialist.  I have started putting together my promo material, updating my CV, and tentatively stretching and spreading my baby bird wings in hopes of landing a summer contract.

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While I am currently in the process of creating work (a chains routine and a static trapeze routine), I feel like I spend a lot of my time actually doing this – hanging off of my equipment comfortably as I socialize and contemplate what I’m doing.  I filmed one of my practices a week or so ago, and laughed myself silly at how I spent more time casually sitting on the bar than doing the conditioning I had come for, as well as how much more comfortable I am hanging out up there than on the ground.

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