05 September 2013

Building Puzzles

Note: This was actually written a couple of weeks ago, however, the stress of packing and moving (as referred to in the post) zapped my energy to finish and publish this until just before the Internet went down for four days. As I write this note, I am actually at the college and have just began classes. Therefore the timeline in this post is a little bit out of whack (when I say 'right now,' it now actually means like two weeks ago), but the general informational idea (such as it is) is still the same.

So after that post talking about that little detour (or, more accurately, hairpin-sharp left turn) into the college thing, you faithful readers may or may not have wondered, 'Will she still do choreography?' (Okay, I know you probably didn't care, but humour me.)

As of right now, yes. Actually, I'm kind of choreographing like a mad woman. Having never been in a public school setting I have no clue what to expect from college. I hear people griping about the workload -- assignments and essays and homework and things -- but I don't know how much truth there is to that, or if they're all just being public-school whiners (crap. I said that out loud, didn't I?). As a result, I'm not sure how much spare time -- if any -- I'm going to have for personal pursuits such as choreography, so I'm trying to cram in as much as I can now, just in case. On paper, my course load this semester seems not bad (three classes Mondays and Wednesdays and two on Tuesdays and Thursdays), but who knows how much outside studying there'll be...

I've talked before about my experience with emotion being good for creativity (whether it's quality creativity remains to be seen). So having to leave my beloved dance school and now psyching myself up to saying goodbye to my friends and family here in two weeks and then moving -- something I've never done before in my life -- out of province is sparking a lot of creativity. Since the beginning of June I've choreographed (fully notated) ChangelessSanctuary, and Daniel Amos' lovely Beautiful One (that last one only took 28 hours from initial idea to full notation), plus I've also sketched out a lot of other stuff and it's all quite good (in comparison to everything else I've done so far).

Following that I was working on a White Heart song (hey, DA and White Heart make good nuanced music, okay?) called Heaven Of My Heart. It's off to a slow start, though... I know sort of the feel I want for it, but the specific steps to accomplish said vision are so far eluding me, so I've been flipping back and forth between a few other songs... notably White Heart's Silhouette, John Michael Talbot's The Birth Of Jesus, and Terry Scott Taylor's Dancing On Light (words cannot explain how much I love this song). I have a lot of good ideas for all of them, but for some reason I don't want to commit to one... probably because I had committed to Heaven Of My Heart and it's not going anywhere. I hate leaving choreography half-finished (Montana Sky still haunts me).


The other day while listening to the ShufflePod, David Meece's heavenly symphony God's Promises/Rainbows In The Night came through (followed immediately by the Swirling Eddies. I love my iPod). This is a gorgeous song, and it has ballet written all over it. I always knew I would do it someday, but 'someday' would come when I had really refined my ability to choreograph a smooth, flowing dance and aesthetically pleasing formations. This is a phenomenal majestic song and as a choreographer I cannot give it anything less than the best that ballet has to offer. I knew if I were to do it at that point, I couldn't even do the song justice, and even mere 'justice' is not good enough for something so sweeping and marvelous. I wasn't yet ready for a project of this caliber -- it would be six and a half minutes of grand, majestic, and very precise classical ballet for twelve people.

Last time I even thought of this song was probably in the spring sometime. I hadn't heard it in a long while (it's a crime to forget this song, and yet I keep doing it). Since then, things have changed -- I've had the opportunity to take a couple of ballet classes in the next level up than I was in, and it's one of those 'big jump' levels... you go from floating and gentle ballet to quick, precise and expressive ballet. I've noticed choreography coming far easier and far more quickly than before I took that class, plus my dancing is way more interesting now. I have a lot more technique to draw on thanks to that class.

Also, in the past week and a half or so I've been watching pretty much every classical ballet video that exists on YouTube. All the classic ballets (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, I even saw some Alice In Wonderland...), and quite a few rehearsals, plus a bunch of Balanchine's stuff (despite having spent most of my life in the ballet community and having heard he was such a great choreographer, I've never actually seen his work).

You know how it works -- the more you watch something or listen to something, the more it sinks into the fabric of your being. Watching literally hours and hours and hours of rehearsing and excerpts of great ballets has packed my head so full of ballet stuff: intricate footwork, quick and complex movements, strings of impressive extensions, turns, and jumps without a break. (If you only watch one ballet excerpt in your entire life, watch this one... you will never fully understand how amazing this is if you've never been on pointe, but even to the untrained eye this is no doubt impressive.)

As a result of all the learning, the other day when that David Meece song came through, I began to wonder if maybe now I was ready.

So I'm seriously sketching it out now -- not officially notating, but coming up with pieces and fitting them together. It really is like building a puzzle, only you also have to create the pieces first. I did this with Sanctuary, with fantastic results -- Sanctuary is freaking gorgeous. The ending alone could stand as my best work (so far). Of course, by the time I finished I was ready to shred my sketch pages (my cross-references had cross-references which cross-referenced back for two lines of information before another cross-reference sent me off on another quest for a different page. The ending may have turned out spectacular, but sketching that first and then filling everything else in later on the following pages was insanity), but at least the final product was worth it. Because it worked so well with Sanctuary, I used the same approach with Beautiful One -- essentially choreographing the entire thing in my head and outlining it in English notes, then just transcribing it into BMN. I can pretty much guarantee that was how I managed to create the dance for Beautiful One from scratch so quickly.

Sorry, kind of a ramble... but as I'm writing I'm realising I think I found my creative rhythm!

Anyway, I haven't totally committed to God's Promises/Rainbows In The Night yet, but it's much closer to what I envisioned than it was a month ago... I seriously thought it would be years and years, and it's kind of surreal to think that maybe it's not that far off. I'm excited, anyway.

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