Thursday, December 18, 2014

Le Grand Continental: Rehearsal 15

Last night was our final official rehearsal before the holiday break. To begin with, there was a considerable amount of shuffling of positions on the floor, with the elimination of a whole row from Group B (mostly owing to people dropping out). Mercifully, I stayed put. After that, we learned how to fall properly to the ground at the end of the "India" section, including how to avoid stepping on the head of the person behind us for those of us in the last two rows.

Then it was on to a general review of all the sections, refining some of the trickier moves in each, such as the "Where's the Bunny?" pirouette from "Cumbia." I still don't have that one down--at least not as expertly as Gatis, who was coaxed on stage by Lara to demonstrate for our benefit. But I'll work on it over the holidays. More successful was perfecting the cross of Groups A and B in the middle of "India," with all of us definitively arriving at a consensus about how many marks we are to move at a time, and with the lines from each group now aligning nicely during the little circle move we all do in the middle. Whew!

At the end of the two hours, Lara praised us all for how far we'd come since we started this process. She said we were going to blow Sylvain's socks off when he returns in January. But to do that, she reminded us, we needed to practice over the holidays--preferably just with the music, and not the videos, so that we could listen for cues and learn to anticipate what move was coming next.

A large group of us then began a semi-epic journey along Main Street to find a bar that could accommodate us for a celebratory drink (I think there were about 20-25 people in total). Ling, who was our ringleader, announced that the folks at The Cascade Room, whom she had originally been in touch with about holding their back space for us, had sold us out and given up the room to another large party. So after various desperate telephone calls, she received confirmation that The Whip could take us. Except that when the first wave of us arrived, the aggrieved hostess was aghast to learn that the six people she had anticipated had morphed into a double digit mass. After various other suggestions (The Narrow, The Anza Club), we tramped to nearby Main Street Brewery, which more or less had the space to accommodate us.

It was nice to get to chat with some of my fellow dancers at more length outside of rehearsal. I learned, for example, that Cheryl writes for the Courier; that Ling has previously lived in London and Berlin, working in the arts and entertainment industry, and that after several years in Vancouver she was still finding it hard to make new friends; and that Jessica, the virtuosic mover at the front of my row, did her dance degree at SFU, and is a good friend of my student Alana Gerecke. I also discovered from Caroline how quickly she and Lara and Anna had to learn the piece from Sylvain at the end of October, and from Lara that she was going to be part of a new work at Chutzpah! choreographed by Vanessa Goodman, and featuring Lisa Gelley and Josh Martin from the 605 Collective, alongside top Vancouver dancers Jane Osborne, Bevin Poole, and James Gnam (who studied alongside Lara at the National Ballet School--something I'd learned on Monday having coffee with James).

A common refrain in my conversations with my fellow community dancers was what we were all going to do come February, after our public performances of the piece. We're already anticipating being bereft without our regular Monday and Wednesday evening rehearsals and many of us would like to find a way to keep the group going--not just as an occasional social gathering, but actually as a regular community dance project. Super talented husband and wife team Mark Haney and Diane Park apparently have access to space at the Roundhouse and the Moberley Arts and Cultural Centre and, even better, may have successfully convinced Jessica over her second beer to take creative charge of our motley crew come February/March.

In the meantime, members of the group (again, chiefly Mark and Diane) have taken it upon themselves to organize two additional and self-directed workshops of Le Grand Continental this Saturday and two weeks hence, on January 3rd. Non-professional, volunteer performers wanting to give up their free time to rehearse more? Clearly something--nay, everything--about this project is clicking.

I am so stoked for January!


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