Inside a Dance Studio is a blog hosted by Pegasus Studios with the aim of celebrating, discussing and learning about how dance can help support and foster healthy and happy children, adolescents and adults. This blog is inspired by our experiences as teachers and owners of Pegasus Studios, a dance studio primarily dedicated to art and health in children, from the ages of 2-20, give or take a few years!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Time to Grow: My Choreographic Journey

After hearing all the other choreographers talk about their processes in developing their pieces for Dances of Offering, it made me reflect upon my own process and how I have come to create my piece.

The dance that I choreographed last year for Dances of Offering reflected upon a personal experience that had impacted me greatly. It was an extremely emotional piece: a duet with myself and Alison Keery (who we heard from a couple weeks ago) that represented a particularly distressing event in my life and the struggle involved in moving past it. I used that piece as a part of my healing process and being able to explore and share those emotions helped me a great deal. This year I wanted to move in a different direction. My piece, entitled A Time to Grow, reflects images and movement found in nature.

Exploring the movement quality of plant life and the growth that is occurring around us all the time proved to be an interesting pursuit. My initial inspiration came from watching footage from the BBC series “Planet Earth” of plants growing and blooming at high speed. The quivering, vibrating, and constant nature of their growth was so compelling that I couldn’t help imagining how I could interpret that movement with dance. The images in my mind of people blooming and growing and constantly yearning for the sun excited me a great deal and I found myself unable to think about anything else.

Planet Earth: Seasonal Forests
Flowers opening their petals to the sun

When I began choreographing, I started to worry that people might not be able to convey that same energy and vibrancy that I saw in the plants. I wondered if it was possible for us to understand and communicate with human emotions the feelings and sensations of beings that are often considered to be completely different than ourselves. I could only hope that the dancers I had asked to take part in the piece would help me find a way of embodying these feelings that I was uncertain how to present.

In my first meeting with my fellow York dancers, Alison Keery, Kiersten McMaster, and Vanessa Medeiros, I felt it was necessary to share with them the videos that had first inspired me to create this piece. Hearing their feedback and seeing that they shared my vision of how exciting it would be to explore these new movement possibilities encouraged me and gave me new hope. When we began to work on choreography I saw that they needed no explanation or clarification regarding how to convey the emotional qualities of the plants, it came naturally with understanding the material and embodying the movement.

Kiersten McMaster, Alison Keery, Jessica Houghton, Vanessa Medeiros
Dancers opening their petals to the sun

Now that the piece is finished, we continue to grow together as an ensemble, each planting seeds of inspiration in each other while cultivating and nurturing our individual and collective “tree of life”. Any fears I once had about our ability to express the abstract emotions of plant life were dispelled as it became clear to me that yearning, blooming, and especially growing, are emotions that we can all relate to, and it appears that life can always be considered as A Time to Grow.


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