The Process of Failure: Work in Progress videos and writing.

Making Failure involved a different kind of process than I have embarked on before. We were given a commission by Temple University in Philadelphia called  Reflection/Response which involved a long and open residency in the Temple University dance department studios and in October 2012 Failure was produced in the Conwell Dance Theater in Philadelphia.

I decided to rehearse in New York in April and May and take my company to Philadelphia for 4-6 days per month in June, July and August and then we would meet in September to run our dance and put on some finishing touches. This was a different schedule because while in Philadelphia we rehearsed all day long; our dancing days were from 10AM-6PM. Generally, I rehearse for many more months with shorter rehearsals, and in the case of Wooden we worked for 2 years. This process was so fast. I decided to embrace it and make fast decisions. I decided to trust my instincts and not analyze my choices for very long. Just follow the development without judging every decision.

We improvised for many hours, for many days, for weeks, really. We performed epic improvised solos about the feelings of failure in the body for each other. We reconstructed improvisations from video. We tried to create a dance we could not do. To access the psychological state of failure and allow our dance to reflect this experience was also very different for me. I generally remain so abstract as to remove emotional content from my dances. As a company we decided to consider the premiere an experiment, rather than a finished work. While we were dancing the immediacy of the physical choices and the in-performance timing decisions created a kind of relationship with the audience that was palpable and electric. I could sense them closely.

click here to see a developing solo from Failure

I set out to make a set design that could collapse during the performance. This proved difficult. I had a lot of ideas about the weight of the structure, the size and the material. The set evolved from an initial idea of a 2-story structure that the dancers could inhabit, but that would collapse at a certain point in the dance. As I began to develop movement and work on the engineering problems I realized that the original idea of an inhabitable set design was not feasible and wasn’t really going to achieve the concept that I was going for. I wanted to express the idea of failure in the body. I wanted to explore the journey toward physical failure and I knew that the set must also collapse but I realized that for this dance if the set design was two stories high, we would have to sacrifice the expansive movement I was interested in. So, I let the idea evolve. I had conversations with Jon Pope ,who is our production manager, about how to achieve a collapsing set and he reminded me that the weight of the materials would be critical toward installing the set for rehearsal and performance. I realized that it was important to make something very tall and if it was going to be created and broken many times, it would have to be made out of light-weight and affordable materials that were easy to acquire and transport. Paper. It became paper and wood frames and staples and screws.

Click here to see a video of the set design and choreography work in progress.

 

Visit Vimeo to learn about our process and see our Featured Repertory page.

Click on this page to view rehearsal footage, featured performances and to see the journey and process of Wooden. This dance was created over 2 years and most of the material was developed through site specific improvisations that were reconstructed, honed and composed into this beautiful dance.

The company premieres the Wooden series we have worked for over 2 years as part of the HERE Artist Residency Program. Please visit the featured repertory page of our website to learn in depth about this dance.

 

WOODEN touring information

About Wooden

The Wooden series is a choreographic works inspired by contemporary outdoor installation work, particularly earthwork, and involves a set design made from environmentally sensitive, biodegradable and addresses the effect of time on objects, the body and performance space. The choreography blends smooth, liquid movement, highly structured improvisation and complex circular composition with the mathematical precision of nature’s geometry. Wooden is rigorous, abstract and highly designed. This evening-length quartet is accompanied by a sound score of field recordings, static and electrified string instruments.

Wooden Part 1: ground is danced in a lush verdant performance environment of living, growing grass and includes a dynamic dance filled with liquid momentum that is at once careful and reckless.

Wooden Part 2: trees exists in a dry and desiccated landscape of large driftwood trees salvaged from the Hudson River. These trees are suspended upside down from the ceiling while the dance is performed among them on a sandy beige and gray floor.

Wooden part 3: corridor.
This intermittent solo occurs as audience members walk through a long blue corridor. Sections of earth line the walls while small solos shift time.

In touring situations the Wooden series has been performed as separate evening-length performances or can be one longer dance.

 

Part 1: ground

Quartet

Running time: 35 minutes

Part 2: trees

Quartet

Running time: 35 minutes

Part 3: corridor

Installation

Running time with solo is a 7 minute loop.

TOURING INFORMATION

Separated touring versions either Part 1 or Part 2 are approximately one hour with LPC set design installation or can be performed in appropriate existing environments. When performed as the series the dance is about 80 minutes with one intermission and includes full installation of the three parts and their original environments.

I believe that a dance must directly relate to the environment in which it is performed and is therefore in dialogue with the surroundings. Performances are tailored for each space and become unique to each location. This is integral to Wooden’s concept of the influence of people on environments and the relationship of time to an artwork.

Please contact: Jon Pope, Production Manager for more touring information: jonrpope@gmail.com

Here is an excerpt on Wooden from our January production of Part 2: ground at HERE Arts Center in New York City

Wooden has received support from the Greenwall Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding and The HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). Developmental residencies were awarded by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s (LMCC) Swing Space Residency at 14 Wall Street, space donated from Capstone Equities and an LMCC residency at the Governors Island Art Center.