Creative Work, Dance, Perfect 10

Dear Nature: Week 1

The beginnings of a dance are easy, exciting, invigorating, exhausting, and difficult. I know those things may not seem to coexist, but believe me, in creative work, they certainly do. As I begin any new dance work, I am flooded with ideas – about the movement, the stage, the costumes, the props, the film, the music, the dancers – really everything. The tough part is focusing those ideas and really getting to work! It’s fun to sit around and think about what a dance might be, but it is another thing to get to the real business of making everything fit together into a coherent piece of art.

But, it is that time to work. Before heading into my first rehearsal with the dancers several things happened:

I connected with a new composer for our company (Julia Price) and selected one of her compositions for use in our dance (Sun Kiss).
I was inspired by several poems by my long-time friend (Jessica Temple) and asked her to record them for us (sound clips coming soon!).

I ordered (and received) foam flooring to use in our show – both for color and to protect us from any uneven areas in the Artspace floor.

No sewing has started on the costume-front, but I have colors (yellow, blue, green) and textures (voluminous, fluffy ruffles) in mind at this point.

Movement is always the tough part – to start finding your vocabulary for the dance. A few things came right away, but mainly the movement was slowly draw out of my body, through hours spent just moving (improvising) in my small home studio. I did have two solid phrases going into the first rehearsal, which is quite a lot of dance to have so early (but we do not have a lot of time before this show, thus the hurry). I’m calling the first our “16-count Gesture Phrase” and the second our “Phrase in 3’s.” I also had an idea to play around with to have the dancers help generate a bit of movement if we had some extra time in that first rehearsal.

Time for dancers to join the process!

Phrase in #'sThese first few rehearsals are all about throwing the material at the dancers: seeing what works and what doesn’t, seeing who thrives with which phrases, and not worrying too much about the details at this point. I taught the “Gesture Phrase” first, then started putting this phrase into a spatial plan (formations, transitions and levels/dynamic changes). Knowing we only have a short amount of time, as soon as I feel the dancers have this in their bodies, we move on to the “Phrase in 3’s.” This movement is learned all together, then is put into a duet, with timing and spatial changes for the downstage dancer.

I watch Natalee and Kristina perform the duet and am struck by how different they are as dancers. In my mind, I envisioned the duet as two facets of the same personality but what I am seeing is two completely different people having a similar life experience. They are in two different places, having different responses to the same situation. Perhaps this is what the piece is about: seeing how different people live in an environment. When do they approach a problem the same? When do they look completely separate? When do they help each other?

I think these are good questions to ponder as I continue to process.

(Code f.a.d. Artistic Director)

Creative Work, Dance, Perfect 10

The Creative Process Begins

After having such a great experience creating Finding Place in response to the artwork of El Anatsui (then seen at the NC Museum of Art), I decided to embark on a similar experience this season of creating dance inspired by visual artwork. This time we will be performing in the gallery with the exhibition, so I’m very excited to be involved in a project where the audience is truly surrounded by the inspiration.

I met with Artspace to discuss the possibilities, and we settled on an early fall exhibition titled Dear Nature, with art from Natalie Abrams, Cynthia Camlin, & Mi-Sook Hur. We will perform at September’s First Friday gallery opening (Sept 6) then another, longer performance with an artist Q&A on September 18. These dates are fast approaching, so that means it is time to get to work!

I actually began processing ideas for this new work a couple months ago, but now as we begin rehearsals with the dancers this week I am opening up my process to you through this blog. This is your inside peek at my choreographic process and how a Code f.a.d. Company show comes together. Twice a week I’ll update you with my ideas for the dance, costumes, music, text, and props, and I’ll let you know what we are up to in rehearsals with photos and video clips. Don’t worry, though, there will still be plenty of surprises for you when you come to see the final product!

As I am sharing my thoughts about this new dance work, I also encourage you to share your thoughts and ask any questions you may have along the way. I love to discuss dance and my creative work, so let’s engage in a discussion. Thank you for joining (or at least following) me in this journey, and I look forward to what this blogging process will add to my process and can only imagine it will allow me to delve even deeper into my creative world.

(Code f.a.d. Artistic Director)

About Us, Dancers

A Day in the Life of a Code f.a.d. Dancer: Kelley Murphy

Kelley (and Jill) in "Finding Place"

Kelley (and Jill) in “Finding Place”

Editor’s note: Kelley showed up at the very first Code f.a.d. Company audition (back in the summer of 2008), and she’s been dancing with us ever since! See her perform next with the company at NC Dances: Sunday, April 28 at Cary Academy (free show at 7pm).

A day in my life would usually be pretty busy and full of constant activity! First of all, I wake up early to get my 7 year old son ready for 1st grade. Getting him dressed, fed and teeth brushed. Backpack in hand; we walk to the bus stop. Once on the bus, I walk home to get myself ready for my day.

I work during the day as a newborn photographer for a local hospital. We do in-room photo shoots of the artistic/creative type instead of old-school baby mugshots. I put on my work uniform, which consists of all black: pants, shirt, shoes and jacket. Glad to not have to think about what to wear… I grab all of my gear, double checking everything is charged up and ready to go. I am loaded down with my camera bag, flash, extra batteries, battery charger, laptop and cords. Not to mention a bottle of water and breakfast on the go!

the kids on a rare snowy day

the kids on a rare snowy day

I normally photograph around four precious newborn babies a day. After they’ve been photographed and edited, I give the parents a tear-jerking slideshow of their beautiful new baby. From here, I am usually rushing home to make sure I am in time to pick up my son from the bus stop. Once home, I am greeted by my other child, who is 16, and they both inform me that they are dying of starvation. Midday snack time!

After getting them fed and settled, we start on homework. It is already after 4pm and I have to be at my second job at 5. The teenager gets to help with the homework so I can change and get ready to teach dance for the next 3 hours. I teach modern, jazz and hip hop. I arrive home at 8pm, once again to starving kids. I cook dinner, get them showered and ready for bed. Sometimes I have some “me time,” but usually I am too tired to do anything but go to sleep myself. I always look forward to the days I have rehearsal with the company so I can get out by myself and do what I love… dancing!