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.
Nicole Guarino (rehearsing above) who performs “Night Winds,” and her understudy Karine Lambrechtse (in video below), had the hardest task. The solo involves the manipulation of a long sticks under a huge costume, made from one hundred yards of extra-wide silk. The length of the wands and the size of the costume create a tremendous resistance for the movement. At first, Nicole’s hands would cramp up terribly after only a short time. The solo is two and half minutes long but it requires real stamina, as well as strong wrists and forearms.
Once Nicole and Karine learned the basic technique and vocabulary, they could then begin to flow the movements over and along with the musical swells. For instance, the “half-umbrella” move repeats rising as the melody line also ascends.
Teaching this solo to other dancers forced me to be more specific than I had been before. When I do it, I usually let myself improvise a little. Still, I tried to give Nicole and Karine a touch of freedom within the confines of the musical structure.
Sharing the Loie Fuller-influenced vocabulary for both works, tornado spins (re-named the “tulip” in Holland!), butterfly runs, nymph wafts, side flags, etc. has gotten me inspired for my next piece Ghosts. More to come on that later . . .