Tag Archives: Dancing the distance

Dancing the Distance: Near. Far. Together

I love chance technique.  I remember learning about Merce Cunningham for the first time when I was about eighteen and thinking how tough and ballsy his method sounded.  I was also terrified by the idea of not knowing the future (i.e. the next step or phrase).

As I have gotten older, I have really begun to fall in love with chance.  I find the entire experience exhilarating and thrilling.  You walk into the studio with an idea and then guide it slightly, or perhaps you  let it completely run wild.

Taking a chance in my work

My first experience using chance in my own choreography was in 2014 when I started creating a piece now called ‘Automatic Unconsciousness’.

To be really honest, I was struggling to come up with a storyline I wanted to tell, and was feeling a bit burnt out as a choreographer. But I went back to my roots and education, and I brought some tools to the studio.

For this piece, I used colored index cards labeled with a variety of things such as: Phrase A/Phrase B, invert, repeat, slow, fast, and more. First, I taught the phrases, then I had the dancers choose cards from each pile of: phrases, how to manipulate them, and speed suggestions.

We got to work and rather than ending up with too little material, we had far too many versions of all the phrases!  I was so intrigued and excited by how these simple manipulations created enough meat for an entire piece.

I believe that chance allows the dancers to have a deeper involvement in the creative process.  I also love knowing that we (as I believe chance often is a group process) can keep, discard, and further manipulate any material created.

Fast forward a couple of years and I have begun to challenge myself more and more to allow chance to be a part of my choreographic process.

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