Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mountain View Solstice Dancers: Rehearsal 10

Last night we reached an important milestone in our rehearsals: we were joined by the musicians who will be performing the live score for us on the evening of June 21st. They include Little Chamber Music AD Mark Haney on double bass (whose original composition, "New Friends and Stranger Companies," is the second of the three works we dance to), Marina Hasselberg on cello, Adrian Verdejo on electric guitar, and Sarah Wheeler on vocals. Sarah's song, "Open Your Heart," is the third and final piece we dance to. We got a taste of what that choreography will look like when Jessica danced it solo for us while Sarah sang; the combination of Sarah's big voice and Jessica's fluid movements, combined with the fact that we were outside just at dusk, was intoxicating. Several of us suggested that we should just leave things like that, with Jessica dancing alone for the final number; that said, and as difficult as I know this new choreography will be to learn on top of all the rest, I am eager to start mastering these final steps. Sarah's song is big and bluesy and Jessica has appropriately composed a concluding line dance for us (shades of Le Grand Continental redux), complete with lots of turns and hip shimmies and hand claps.

Of course, we only have three more weeks in which to learn this--plus perfect the other two numbers. And I'm going to be away next week because of a conference. Oy vey!

Mark's friend Joelysa Pankanea was also there last night to teach those of us who wish to sing during the circle formation bit of "New Friends..." that particular bit of vocalization it. It sounded really great when everyone was just standing around inside Celebration Hall at the beginning (I wasn't singing, just listening). However, when we went outside and tried our first run through of this piece things sort of broke down. Trying to remember the choreography (and our spacing) from two weeks ago, combined with the added complexity of counting on our own in our heads to the live music, plus singing on top of all that proved too much for most of us. For now we've decided on a core of four singers who will break off and cluster in the centre during this bit, with those who wish to among the dancers free to join in while also moving should they see fit.

Working through "New Friends..." several times, we eventually did get the timing and most of the choreography in pretty good shape by the end. After the aforementioned preview of "Open Your Heart" by Sarah and Jessica, that left time for a couple of run throughs of "Spiegel Im Spiegel." Here the first challenge was hearing the music from where we start, at the edge of the road leading south to Celebration Hall. The second, for me, was working through the duet portion of the piece. For personal reasons, Suzie couldn't be there again last night and as it's been ages since we danced this bit together, I sort of just faked my way through. Tt's my turn to be away next week, and I'm wondering if we shouldn't book some extra time together to perfect this...

Notwithstanding all my very real anxieties about how much there is still to do between now and the performances on the 21st (another fun fact I learned last night: there'll be two of them, at 7 and 9 pm--see the poster below), I am proud to be part of this creative experiment. The music is amazing, Sarah's voice seems to fill the entirety of the spectacular Mountain View setting, and Jessica has worked hard to craft group movement that complements both. Clad all in white (I previewed my outfit last night), it'll seem like we're floating through space like one of Laban's famous movement choirs. And with any luck the dying light will mask our slight imperfections.


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