The Making Room

Investigating innovative ways of sharing the creative process from start to premiere


June 2016, session 1: REHEARSAL RESIDENCY, ohio state university

JUNE 6-10, 2016

Photo: Derek Fowles

Day One, Eleven Minutes

Michelle, Angie, Sarah, Bronwen. Maddie Leonard-Rose, a junior at OSU, joins us for a day or so. It’s our first official rehearsal residency, three months after the convening. Following along the lines of that initial meeting we show up, then see what we might do, together. This group of four women, and me, have never worked together before. It’s been a long time since I’ve begun any kind of process in that fashion. There’s such a lovely unknown in the room, finding out what’s interesting will be fun.

We work independently, sussing out our attentions: to arms, space, a sequence of sensation and action. There’s a palpable difference between improvising to find something, and improvising to set. The return to the beginning, the repeat of the start of something, keeps everyone working fairly quietly, alone and together. I’m always humbled to see how they think in-between’s. The small ponderings are almost invisible, always in time. Eyes are down, thinking in between the working. Here’s a view of some of what happened on Day One.

Sarah (red top) picks up a touch-ground gesture from me, incorporates it into her own spiral dynamic of arms-back-curve-space. Bebe shows Sarah, she takes it on.

Angie (plaid shirt) and I trade "unh huhs" and something begins to form. Our back and forths serve just to keep track. Whatever path she’s on is clear, driving. 

Bronwen (wearing a big "7") slices a diagonal through the room. That found space becomes central to her phrase and phrasing. Bronwen and Sarah each start keepers.

Michelle (purple top) and Bebe chat, work on some tricky rhythm that shows up from somewhere. Bebe Michelle chat and work.

Maddie (grey top) is back there, folding and unfolding her body in her particular way. The length of her along with her timing, and how she keeps herself from completing gravity, is always interesting. 

Eventually we show each other the makings of the first day. The room has been generous, thoughtful, positive. Their phrasing will eventually make it into the finished work, pretty much verbatim. Ordering one to the next is what’s left to do. Show stuff to each other.

By midweek the group has joined forces. We work on a partnered bit, the central focus ping-ponging between pretty quickly. I ask Bronwen to go look behind the curtain while the others are on the floor together. Whatever she found there, her wandering off, is still in the piece. The section becomes the Women’s Non-Unison Quartet in In a Rhythm

It’s also good to note what doesn’t quite make it in as a keeper but strikes a chord of interest. We find our way to a structure, shown here starting with Bebe and Angie down front, the others lined up upstage. It has a lot of what Angie and I have found interesting in our dancing partnership, a shared perspective/responsibility toward each other. Angie seems to be the Attendant, I seem to need that. Six months later we come up with Hero and Attendant, a duet form that Angie and Bronwen continue to develop.

The Line Up is a precursor of what we will eventually call Trisha, a line-up of watching and dancing that began to form in the first few days after Trisha Brown’s death. It’s not as simple or straightforward as that of course, but enough of a hint of form that we keep returning to. Music is by Justin Mitchell.