It’s “tech week”. Getting ready for any show requires
Here, allow me to answer some questions asked of me lately… what are yours?
Our friend Denny Griffith’s last words to me were “You have to give yourself permission.”
Denny, a beloved artist and leader in the Columbus community and beyond died in 2016 at an unfair young age from an aggressive cancer. He painted to the end, in fact created an astonishing oeuvre to cap his career. You can see in this film how playful, joyful,
Read on for The Gift Project reveal!
Fabric, clothing, skin, armor, draping, connections, collections, identity, generosity, and dressing our homes… these are themes in The Linen Closet and Other Collections; September 8 & 9, 2017, Columbus, Ohio. Click here to read more about the gently used clothing donation request at the show….
Perhaps to pique your interest….
In this show I estimate there are:
- 3 pairs of shoes
- 13 costumes with an estimated 30 pieces
- 11 pieces of furniture or set pieces
- Piles of what the audience (you) will bring
- Piles of linens from family, ancestors, friends, garage sales and Goodwill
- A belt
- A boa
- A hat and something else that goes on the head
- 23 pieces of music including a pre-show mix
- A pair of scissors, a needle and thread – sort of
- A cartwheel, a headstand, a leap, a nae nae, and a Supta Virasana
- A check for monsters under the bed
- A dining table, a fashion runway, a death bed
The Linen Closet Development –
I thought perhaps it could be fun to try to summarize the scaffolding of making The Linen Closet. I keep choreography journals and can trace the development. In the theater world it’s called “devising”, and in the dance world “choreographing” or simply making. Unlike reading music from a score, or bringing a script to life, this process is, in academic parlance, emergent and qualitative research. Themes develop, ideas coalesce, imagery cooks, and connections get made. Even though “I” am making the work, there is often a sense that the work is making itself known to me. Go to this blog for a longer essay.
- Sabbatical begins as I transition from admin to making/teaching. Unearth vestigial ideas of dancing with fabric from a decade ago – have always wanted to do a sequel of Is A Woman. (like this post if you saw that dance!)
- Start collecting sheets, napkins, a quilt, clothing – the white/beige theme emerges pretty fast. Assumption this will be a series of vignettes or characters establishes. Arc or linking theme unclear yet.
Autumn – Winter 2015-2016
- Research textile industry – check out A Stitch in Time – and finish a section, titled “Industry”
- Begin working with Robert Post, Director.
- Concept/title of “The Linen Closet” emerges as a connecting conceit – and soon the concept of the set emerges. Also have desire to involve audience in some way.
- Fashion maven character develops, along with lots of experimentation with folding and draping fabrics of various sizes. Many iterations later, you will see the results in several sections of the dance.
- Read The Importance of Wearing Clothes by Lawrence Langner, and The Invention of Clothing by Art Newfeld and others. Sit in on a fashion design class at Columbus College of Art and Design. Thank you Suzanne Cotton.
- Lost 50 lbs during sabbatical. That helped.
- June – first attempt at an “order” of sections so far.
- Begin figuring out how costume might layer, transition.
- Transitions become more considered, but problematic.
- Begin really looking at arc of dynamics – the energy of each section, the degree of talking vs. moving, they type of music. Ah yes, lots of music searches.
Autumn-Winter 2016 – 2017
- Invited to be part of “Dare to Be Heard” all women artist show. Asked to perform and offer a preview of this work. Also asked if the “set” could be an installation in the gallery with gallery visitors able to participate. see photo. (like this post if you were there). Artist Nate Gorgen built the set pieces. Thanks Stephanie Rond for the support and encouragement to try all this.
- Refining text, working on techniques of speaking – with Robert Post – for example trying the speaking parts as if speaking to the whole audience, to one person, or just focusing on the fabric or gesture – and moving in and out of those levels of focii.
- Find the text for How to Sew in a Singer Sewing Company manual, 1949. Delight in pairing that with a short study from 1990’s with tango music and a pile of napkins. Many iterations later… well, you’ll have to come see it.
- Lose another 10 lbs, and get stronger – teaching again – have now more access to more movement – got cartwheels, handstands, headstands, and at least single pirouettes back, for example. Continue the question about how to balance or blend moving, speaking, acting, gesturing, working with props. Started the project with a heavier tilt to the “theater” part because I thought, well, I can’t move much. But now, it’s shifted a bit.
Spring and Summer 2017
- Plan this concert in earnest, write grants, book the theater, bring in Dave Covey, lighting designer.
- Share the work in progress at Denison University and Kenyon College – some helpful insights and fun to hear what resonated.
- Do the show.
- Turn 60.
- After reflection and audience response (please write) will re-do, discard, move on, give up, or try new.
Working with a Director:
People have asked me what it’s been like working with a director on my solo project, The Linen Closet. Robert Post asked if I would consider it, as he has been working with a fair number of choreographers in this role. I was cautious and a little worried about how authorship and decisions would go, and if “my” ideas would get subsumed.
As it has turned out, the process has been purely galvanizing, utterly supportive, and deeply rigorous. I only wish we had more time. He comes to rehearsal, I show something I’m working on, even if it is just a loosely improvised “bit” that I have a hunch about. He notices things. He responds to the lucid moments, the “good” stuff, and I pretty much right away know it and agree and we go from there to mold, shape, direct, and clarify details. He’s a stickler for details and I am too.
As a solo artist, I have fostered an ability to have a kind of “outside eye” even while being the performer – part of me stands away and looks, as it were. I’m always sensing the relative layering of imagery, or the timing of things, or legibility vs. obfuscation. But having a director there allows so much more to be noticed, read, connected, and deepened.
Of course his theater, voice, and mime background has specifically helped with this work, but he’s completely at ease with just looking at movement and help each moment to reach its potential.
Five Weeks to Go!
I have returned from a month away and am gearing up to really finish these new pieces and be as ready as I can be for this program. It’s feeling quite daunting, actually. The Linen Closet has a few “finished” sections, but a few that are still being worked on. I am continuing my work with Director Robert Post (watch for a blog post about the process), and hope to really come closer to what I hope this piece can do. Its odd blend of movement, voice, fabric, costume, character, mime, and music, is challenging me to perform the hell out of it. I’m working on getting a little crazy with it.
The Gift Project involves rehearsing essentially six different pieces – as it is a collection of five 2 minute dances by 5 other choreographers (names to be revealed soon perhaps) and then my own packaging of the 5 is essentially another section. Lots to work on there.
O Mortal, pictured above in 1992 when I made it, is like a collection, loosely, of meditations, yoga poses or flows… my work on it requires “collecting” myself and honing my strength and flexibility. It’s a fascinating challenge of breath work, moving into a place of “ether”, and practicing a deep, complex concentration that paradoxically is a state of observation and detachment.