Jody Sperling - Time Lapse DanceJody Sperling is a dancer, choreographer and dance scholar. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Time Lapse Dance. This is Jody's blog.
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Archive for the ‘Rehearsals’ Category

Loie en l’air @ S.L.A.M.

I’m working on a new piece that takes my Loie-style explorations into the air. This is possible courtesy a grant from the “Emerging Artist Commissioning Program” at the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics (aka SLAM). It’s quite an experience to rehearse at SLAM. The space is open to the community and at any given time there could three simultaneous activities on the two enormous trusses and the flying-trapeze rig. During our first rehearsal, “Obama girl” was shooting a video of Elizabeth Streb and company. While we were testing out harnesses, we tried not to attract the attention of the film crew. If the chaos is not distracting, it’s stimulating (and inspiring) to catch glimpses of flying bodies on trapeze, aerial silks, lyre, straps, you name it.

It’s taken a while to devise a costume and rigging system for this project. One issue is how to keep the wires and the costume from interfering with each other. Aaron Verdery, Streb’s rigger, helped us set up a pulley system so I can manually raise and lower aerialist Rachel Salzman. Now that we’ve got the mechanics in place, it’s time to figure out the dance! The first step is to develop the vocabulary. Here’s a few clips–early in the process–that show some Loie-esque aerial moves. More to come!

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Vocabulary Test

It’s a lot easier to remember and repeat a movement when it has a name. My rehearsal process starts, literally, with “vocabulary” building. The dancers and I improvise until we come up with moves we like and then we give each one a name. Once we have a bunch of named chunks, we arrange them into sequences to fit a musical structure.

Here’s a video clip from Friday’s rehearsal during our a residency at Vassar College. The newly “coined” partner moves are: The Butterfly, Flags, Over/Under, 1/2 Umbrellas, Rainbow, Comet, Jacks, Spooning and Pacman (variations). I used YouTube’s annotation tool to label the video. You can choose to view the video with or without the labels by selecting the little carrot icon at the right corner of the video player.

I often joke with the dancers about “naming rights.” If you feel inspired to sponsor and christen a move, let’s talk!

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Invisible Forces Laid Bare

IMG_2809Having been dancing with silks “a La Loie” for over a decade now, I’m always exploring new ways that the body can move in relation to fabric. In Ghosts (right, 2008), I played with juxtaposing the unison movements of two dancers, one of whom wore a Loie-style cape while the other did not. What interested me was the way that the way the “naked” dancer (Emily Lutin) appeared to shape the space around her — you could almost see the swirls of her invisible cape. We are always moving amidst dynamic unseen forces. Loie’s genius was in creating an art that made these elusive energies visible. In my work, I aim to sculpt the spiraling forces which constantly embrace us.

For my latest project, I’m playing with Loie-style flags. (These are my own invention, not conventional “flagging” flags.) Videographer Linda Lewett shot me improvising, both with my new flags and in my “old” Loie costume.

With the flags, the figure is revealed. It’s possible to see footwork and to execute more “dancey” moves. It’s also possible to cross the arms and to reverse course in ways that would ensnare the cape. I’m working here to find full-body movements that fully integrate the action of the fabric.

Linda and I are planning to collaborate on a dance-for-camera project during the company’s upcoming residency at Vassar. So today’s rehearsal was an opportunity for me to explore movement vocabulary and for her to practice shooting.

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I recently returned from Holland where I spent three weeks working with the Introdans youth ensemble. I set the “Night Winds” and “Fountains” excerpts from my trio Roman Sketches. It was amazing experience to work with a company of this caliber, one of the most-respected in The Netherlands. Here are some shots of the rehearsal process.

All the dancers have lovely classical technique. The ensemble’s repertory, though, is extremely eclectic (Hans Van Manen, Mats Ek, Nils Christie, Danny Ezralow, Alwin Nikolais, and Robert Battle are just a few of the choreographers with works in repertory). The dancers have become quite versatile and all are quick studies. The trio was double cast, so I had the pleasure of working with six dancers: one Brazilian, one Canadian, one Spaniard, one French and two Dutch women, each of whom gave a special quality to the movement.

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