Penelope Freeh, the recipient of a 2010 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Choreographers, will be in residence at MANCC (a national choreographic center in Tallahassee, FL) May 6-19, 2012 to develop her new work Slippery Fish. This residency is supported in part by the McKnight Artist Fellowship program. Slippery Fish will premiere at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, September 28-30, 2012.
Last Day: Cheap champagne and leftovers from lunch. A big, bright day outside and a cloudy heart. I’m sad and fried and full. My time at MANCC is just about over, and I have the feeling that a rug’s being pulled out from under me. This experience has been so hard, so good, satisfying in so many ways. I dove deep and though without a diver’s mask, I find that I still don’t want to come up for air.
This week was entirely different from last. The addition of Jocelyn and Carrie catapulted the piece into a territory I’ve never entered. It’s now about incorporating the sound into the dance and not allowing it to merely be accompaniment. It’s about keeping the dance fresh within that and attempting to follow the thread of imaginative logic we’ve established.
First we did a show-and-tell. Patrick and I danced all the material from last Friday’s showing. We worked awhile with Carrie then met for lunch, all of us, a lovely getting-to-know-you time. Quick stop at Atomic Coffee then back to the studio with Carrie.
In other words, I got to work with Carrie before she had music to sing. I was therefore able to incorporate her in a way that may not have otherwise happened. I had no plan for her beyond an opening gesture idea and so this blessed event has reshaped the piece. The implications are huge. Is it still a duet? Jocelyn and I have been calling the piece two simultaneous duets, but with this week’s research that may change.
And then there’s Sam and all the possibility he’ll bring, though I suspect he’ll be more like a witness with emerging bursts at appropriately pithy times. If his task is anything like Julia Kim’s, the violist who worked with us here, he’ll already have plenty to concentrate on.
How is it then that Carrie can so facilely move with us? Perhaps because singing is inherently connected to breath as is dancing (though sometimes we tend to forget that). In fact, one of my favorite moments is when the three of us catch our breath on the same inhale. Time suspends, expanding with our chests as the image imprints, our fingers wiggling.
Since Patrick and I had generated a fair amount of sequenced material, Jocelyn got started in response to that. As it turned out, the dance stayed pretty much the same structurally, though we linked some things that had previously been separate elements.
But then came the magic moment when both Jocelyn and I had nothing. We could move or be moved by the other; we could evolve together, in tandem and in response to what had happened thus far.
A solo for me now emerges. Danced to just the viola, it is uncanny how “like me” that new music is. It’s as though Jocelyn knew in advance the driving tempo of my innermost impulses. Carrie and Patrick frame me with a walking task, beautiful in its simplicity yet made complex by accidental proximities.
Patrick then solos (so, so beautiful yet a struggle for me as I wrestle with to what degree this should be improvised) and here’s where there’s a gap for me. We accumulate into a duet again and so now, what of Carrie? Where’s Sam? Can we have the scenic element that I’m imagining?
I can hardly wait to get everyone in the same room again, to move on from this sticking point and see what emerges with all of our brains on it. I’m so thankful to have gotten this far and with such support. The next phase (so important!) moves into contemplation, studying the piece as it exists thus far, long-distance tasking with Patrick, studio time with Jocelyn and tons of admin logistics toward September.
I think we’re on to something.