A few weeks ago, I saw a shared program with the choreographers Rebecca Stenn and Ben Munisteri. Each artist allowed the other to “re-mix” dances made for his or her own company. Then each re-mixed the others’ re-mix. It was fascinating exercise, seeing such thematic variations spun out in sequence. The evening proved how infinite are the possibilities of dance-making.
Choreography means making decisions. As a dance takes shape, I always have mixed feelings — excitement for the new work, of course, but also a sense of loss for all the possible dances I could have made in its place. (I especially miss the one that I had to describe with great detail in funding proposals a year in advance of its making.)
I usually console myself for the loss of un-actualized choreography (i.e. the alternate assemblages of material or all the cool moves that just don’t fit in) with “there’s always next time.” For my new piece, Forms of Dilemma, I’m letting myself make “next time” part of the process.
I just spent the past two weeks in a creative residency at Vassar College, working on version “A” of Forms of Dilemma. For this incarnation, I set the movement to Grieg’s outrageously melodic Peer Gynt Suite.
For version “B” of Forms, I plan to re-work the vocabulary for students at Barnard College in the Fall. This time, though, composer Quentin Chiappetta (my long-term collaborator) has promised to “mess” with the music. Already, he’s created percussion “click tracks” which follow the exact rhythmic structure of the original, but are bereft of melody and orchestral instrumentation.
I’ve heard that the quicker you make a decision the happier you are with the outcome. i.e. if you fully weigh every option, you get attached to possibilities which you must inevitably reject. (Think of “the bachelor” taking a whole season to pick his fiancee — he might end up with his favorite, but he’s gonna miss all the other ladies too.) I have to say having made version “A” in the span of two weeks, I’m rather pleased with the outcome. And am also thrilled to be able to say yes to more possibilities with “B” (and maybe “C”) down the road.