Mise en Dance – May 9, 2015

On May 9, 2015 members of Beth Elliott Dance Group and artists and choreographers from Small Plates Choreography Festival gathered for the first installation of Mise en Dance.

Choreographers working on this evening’s event were Beth McKee Elliott and Meredith Barnes.

Dancers present included Kayla Davidson, Niquole Lilavois, Jillian Muschler, Staisha Perry,  Joye Thomas and Meghan Welsh.

Choreographer Beth Elliott used a creative process she developed called Mosaic to generate movement material and manipulate it.

The first step of the process is the creation of solo phrases. The inspiration for the movement was the Thoreau quote (or more properly, misquote) “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Life the life you’ve imagined.”  I pulled some action-oriented interesting words from the quote to come up with some movement ideas.

Go confidently – travel in a straight line

In the direction – cluster of three direction changes

Live – Breath initiated movement, our movement with breath sounds

Life – three dimensional Carving/Shaping

Imagine – Spreading & Enclosing

Dancers were asked to use these movement elements to create solo phrases. Choreographers helped the dancers shape the solos. After a preliminary round of workshopping, we discussed the (mis)quote and the inspiration for the movements. We then discussed how some of the movements could more accurately reflect the words from the quote, most notably we talked about “traveling in a straight pathway” and added the quality of direct space effort to the straight pathway movements.

Once we were happy with all of the solos, we performed them one after another for the audience and asked for their feedback. To choose an order to perform the solos, we decided to go in order of the dancers’ ages, from youngest to oldest, and performed in age order to a somewhat random music choice.

The following video shows the solos as we performed them in age order, and the music we landed on was an arrangement of Hide and Seek performed by Time for Three.

After the audience watched the solos, we asked if they could see all of the elements that were prescribed in the solos, and we clarified any movements that were awkward or had rough transitions. We asked the audience then to choose partnerships based on which dancers and solos they would like to see dance together. We performed the solos again with some overlap of the solos, asking dancers to enter the space and begin their solos on the breath initiated movement of the previous solo.

An audience member noticed that their was no real connection between the dancers in the ‘duets.’ We did not really create actual duets from the partnerships, but just asked the dancers to perform their solos in the same space. So it may be a project for the next Mise en Dance event to work on the partner-solos and make them more like duets.

We talked about the quality of the movement, and dancers and audience all agreed that the qualitative words of the (mis)quote were “dream” and “imagine.” Dancers, choreographers, and audience members contributed some words to describe potential movement qualities contained in these words: uncontained, limitless, space, starry, colorful, dimension, universe, and worlds. I connect these words with indirect space effort in LMA – an spatial acknowledgement of  ‘everything’ as opposed to zeroing in on ‘one thing.’  The dancers then gave awareness to a sense of free, uncontained vastness and indirectness in their attention to space in their movements.

Our next task was to create a movement phrase for the entire group. We asked the audience to choose one movement from each of the dancers’ solos, and we asked the dancers to combine the movements into one long phrase. We called it the “mashup” phrase.

Meredith Barnes did some manipulation on the mashup phrase based on remarks from members of the audience about awkward moments in the phrase. We had a little difficulty here because of limitations of the space.

The dancers and audience were interested in the Jun Miyaki track, “Lilies of the Valley.”

We tried the movement on to different music, (Fordlandia – Aerial View by Johann Johannson) just for a change of tone, and the dancers were asked to change the facings of their solos so they were not all frontal.

At the end of the session, we brainstormed about the tone of the dance, and dancers, choreographers and audience all agreed that the movement didn’t really reflect the original (mis)quote that inspired the movement. Most participants felt more connected to the sense of vastness and imagination that the movement had invoked.

Suggested titles were: Chasing Dreams, Contained Vastness, Dream Space/Scape, Limitless, Limitless Space.

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