Mise en Dance, Part II

It was a very exciting evening at the Workhouse on July 11. We met for our second installment of Mise en Dance with Beth Elliott Dance Group and artists from the Small Plates Choreography Festival series. Beth Elliott led the rehearsal with Kista Tucker, dancers Olivia Burkhardt, Kayla Davidson, Niquole Lilavois, Staisha Perry and dancer/choreographer Joye Thomas were all working on the piece.

We began by reviewing the unison phrase from the last workshop and made some alterations to it, mostly to the timing of the movements, creating canons, and changing some of the spacing. In order to have a little more space to work with, we agreed to use the entire half of the room containing the two large posts. We decided to include the posts as part of the space, rather than dance between them. Just making this agreement changed the perception of the space by the group as a whole and influenced how the work could travel.

Since the cast had changed and we had a dancer who was not in the first workshop, we took a little time to show her the choreography from the unison phrase, although she had prepared herself well by watching the videos and creating her own solo phrase using the parameters we had set out in the first event.

Olivia’s solo phrase had a different feeling of vastness and travel than the other solos had, which everyone liked, so we agreed to revisit all the remaining solos and to add some traveling to the existing solos.

Kista also brought her voice to directly reshaping one of the solos.

Here is a video of the re-worked solo parts.

For the next section of work, the dancers were divided into two groups, a trio and a duet. The casting choices were influenced by which dancers would be in attendance at the next event.

The mosaic process builds onto the solo pieces of movement into duets, trios, and group movement events. The concept we used to build was for one dancer to maintain the basic structure of her solo phrase while the second and third dancers to create accompanying movement that utilizes the negative space of the first dancer’s movement. The accompanying dancer parts are called shadows, and the movement phrases created in this stage are called shadow phrases.

The audience voted to choose which dancer would be the “base” and which would be the “shadows.” The audience chose Kayla as the base of the trio and Staisha as the base of the duet.

Kista and Beth guided the trio extensively, with Joye’s influence at the end once she was done working on her assignment. Video of the trio:

And the duet with Staisha as the base and Joye as the shadow:

Since Joye and Staisha have already worked together in this way (they were made to work together this way, in one choreographer’s opinion), they completed their assignment pretty quickly, and the trio was still working. We asked them to change roles and create a second shadow phrase to give the trio more time to complete their work.

Here is the second duet created with Joye as the base and Staisha as the shadow.

Finally, we returned to the unison phrase that we started working on at the very beginning of the workshop. Kista had not yet seen it, so we showed it to her and with the audience we discussed what wasn’t working in the movement. There were three ideas for how to structure this phrase as a transition into one of the duets. We tried all three suggestions, and came to a consensus between the choreographers and audience about which one of the suggestions was the most interesting to watch.

Finally, we put everything together, again taking suggestions from the audience as to how to order the pieces. The Jun Miyake piece, Lilies of the Valley was the audience’s favorite music.

Some title ideas that came from the audience were:

Human Zoo

(Strength & Sadness)

Inside Out



Uphill Battle

Some thoughts for things to work on for next time were:

Transitions between the solos and different parts

Work on the dynamics of the solos

Work on spacing for the solos and parts so that they were not so frontal

It was suggested that the canon in the mashup phrase could maybe be faster

Joye and Staisha’s duet spacing should be moved upstage

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