This project has been made possible by a grant from the Creative Arts Council of Brown University.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rehearsal at the site

Last Wednesday was the first time that we worked down at the Arcade during our rehearsal time. I wanted to have some material to work with before rehearsing there for the first time, and so up until now we have been working in a studio, creating material that is related in various ways to the photos, the advertisements, the conversations, the memories. Now that we have some material, and now that the dancers have got to know one another more, I want to be working at the site more often. Our experiences of the spaces will shift and shape the material we already have, and inform the creation of new movement. In other words, I am interested in paying attention to the phenomenology of the site- the physical, embodied sensations that we experience at the Arcade.

I started rehearsal off by giving the dancers time to explore the site for themselves, asking them to pay attention to the impulses and sensations they experienced, whether that was a desire to walk around touching the columns, a need to walk down the street to understand how the approach to the Arcade works, or just a desire to sit and listen. It was an exercise in heightening awareness, and moving beyond the methods of "usual" interaction with the building where social understandings of space are dominant, and that usually privilege vision over other sensory engagements. Here are the notes that I jotted down as a result of that exercise:

Ash marks on the Westminster steps from cigarettes being stubbed out- like paint smears from fingers. The ash smears easily onto my shoe. A door handle that supports my weight- "Pull" is a command, a taunt, since it does not open no matter how hard I pull. Reflections define my experience of standing on the Westminster portico looking through the Arcade. So much dust on the Weybosset portico- it must be from tearing up and replacing the road that happened this week. Footprints stand out in the dust- ours and others'. 
It was a lot of fun to be down there and trying things out, realising how the space changed certain things, and finding new ways of applying the movement material we already had. It was fulfilling for me  to see the dancers responding to being there, and hearing their thoughts and excitement about the space. I don't think any of them had really explored the space before and walked up and into the porticos, although most knew the building, and had walked past it before. 

We spent most of our rehearsal on Wednesday at this location, 44 years after the photograph was taken:

I am excited to start to craft and shape the piece as a whole- working from the kernels of the vignettes that we have, expanding on those and delving deeper into them by reflecting on how it feels to dance at the site, and starting to connect them together to create some not-necessarily-logical relationships between the different moments of interaction that are occuring. 

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