Today I began rehearsals for a new piece to be premiered in a concert on March 30th. The concert, “CelloPointe”, fuses contemporary ballet and all live cello performances. There is an impressive roster of choreographers, musicians, and dancers on board and I am excited to be involved. My contribution is an original work set on Dona Wiley and Morgan Stinnett—both from the Connecticut Ballet.
Dona was a student of mine and I set pieces on her last year for the concert "String Theory." This was my first time meeting Morgan. It turns out that he is from Akron, OH—small world after all. He studied with Nan Klinger, took a class from my ballet teacher Inna Stabrova, and was even in a piece my dear friend Bill Hastings set on the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet. I try to avoid gross generalizations, but Morgan supports the one about Midwesterners being easy to get along with. Both Dona and Morgan are really generous and humble young artists and I really appreciate that.
We began generating material today. Setting a piece en pointe leaves room for so many well-worn movement clichés and generic phrases. This is an obstacle that I am aware of as I begin this piece.
Today the dancers and I explored different relationship concepts, mainly supporting, grasping and sharing weight. I am consciously trying to avoid open palm to open palm contact—not an easy proposition.
We came up with four phrases today (you can see these in their rawest form on the video with all the stumbling and awkwardness of a couple working together for the first time). Three of the phrases are for both dancers and one is for material for a solo Morgan will have prior to the duet. Morgan’s solo is to a Bach gavotte so I played with some of the traditional Baroque footwork as source material.
The duet is to a Bach sarabande which I read is traditionally done in a 3 with the second and third notes tied together, causing a dragging quality. So I literally found dragging slipping into the duet phrase material.
My personal concern for this work is the fear of making just another generic contemporary ballet piece. Looking at some of the material generated today, without context, there is that danger. I hope that when I begin to shape the material, the specificity of the context will bring it out of the realm of the generic. For now, best to not over think it.