Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Le Grand Continental: Rehearsal 3

Yesterday was the start of Group A's second week of rehearsals for Le Grand Continental. Arriving early to take advantage of the extra practice time made available to us, I was surprised to discover how many others were already there working with Sylvain and each other on the "India" section we had learned last week. Clearly we are taking this seriously!

What is also fascinating to witness is how spontaneously and organically we fall into small working groups during these practice sessions. Two or three people will be in the middle of a sequence over in the corner and the next new arrival will join them mid-step, quickly picking up the rhythm and inspiring the rest in the group to be just that much more fluid in their movements and kinaesthetically aware in their bodies. Such was the case with me last night, and already I feel like I've formed an important collaborative bond with several of my fellow dancers. I'm not sure I'll get to know, let alone talk to, all 80 of the participants in the piece; but I do sincerely feel like we all already have a sense of being in this thing--whatever it is--together.

I'm also curious about Sylvain's continued investment in this project. He is such a genial man and patient teacher. He's been through this process nearly a dozen times now, but clearly he continues to derive some pleasure and freshness from teaching the same choreography to each new group of community dancers. And, indeed, on some level it must be quite satisfying to watch a mostly untrained and amorphous mass of bodies come together as a well-oiled dance machine over the course of eight weeks of rehearsal. None of is ever going to be a great technician (although there are some amazing movers in the group), but neither is Sylvain letting us just go through the motions. Getting the steps right and hitting our marks is one thing; but Sylvain is just as concerned with the crispness and bigness of our hand gestures and, looking ahead, to the emotional connection we will ideally be making with our audience.

There was new work to be learned last night--specifically the "Ima" section that leads into "India." The linear thinker in me was dismayed to discover we were learning the choreography out of sequence, but when we put both sections together at the end of last night's rehearsal and it wasn't a total disaster I was somewhat relieved. The choreography in "Ima" is slower and more flowing, and there is also a bit of unstructured partnering involved that requires a careful listening to the music. I'll need to watch the video again to refresh my memory before tomorrow, but I am certainly gaining confidence as we go along. Plus it's super fun.

And on Saturday we have the big reveal when Groups A and B, who have until now been rehearsing separately, come together at the Vancouver Opera rehearsal spaces on McLean Drive. I was originally going to miss this rehearsal, but now I've decided to skip my conference in Iowa City.

Which also means I get to see the DanceHouse presentation of L-E-V this weekend, the brand new company of Batsheva alum Sharon Eyal and her partner Gai Behar, who together wowed Vancouver last year with the show Corps de Walk.

But before that is PuSh's 2015 Festival Launch Party at the Vogue Theatre tomorrow night at 8 pm, showcasing a performance of The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a "live documentary" by Sam Green and featuring the music of Yo La Tengo. I'll have to miss it, because I'll be in rehearsal! But YOU can buy your tickets here.


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