It is with a reflective sort of feeling that I say that I am currently in the process of choreographing my final piece for this school year. Though I’ll be choreographing over the summer and of course will be continuing my work again in the fall of next year, I feel that this is a particularly pivotal moment as this piece to me seems to be a sort of cap on all of the learning and growing I have done as a choreographer throughout my first year here at Juilliard.
For this piece I wished to create something entirely original. Now one may ask “Is a newly choreographed piece not entirely original?” The answer is that often times no, it is not, as half of the piece came from some other sort of preconceived idea. In this case I am referring to the music, which so often a choreographer finds and chooses after the idea of the piece has been conceived, therefore slapping one idea onto another and forcing a sort of mutant to be born between the two. Now, let it be told that I have nothing against mutants or their qualities, simply this time around I sought to create something much more purebred. As such I sought out the help of a dear friend of mine here at the school (Camden Boyle) in order to cultivate the idea of having music originally composed for my work. Mr. Boyle had previously composed for a select number of other dancers within the division, and so I felt that he would be an excellent person to work with in terms of how he understood the terminology of dance and how that translates into musical phrases.
We began the process simply by discussing the most technical elements of the piece, in this case we went over length, dancers, and the overall energetic arc. Afterwards I sent him a few samples of pieces that I enjoyed and fit the theme so that he had some more concrete examples of what I was looking for. After listening to the samples I sent him he practically took the words right out of my mouth in explaining exactly what it was I was looking for. To quote it directly, he saidthat it “seems like you're after something minor with a fast but steady/driving pulse. Also, they all contrast the playfulness you mentioned with a sort of fiery intensity.” With these few thoughts I then left the rest to his imagination and began the preliminary choreographic work of laying out a number of basic movement phrases. After an impressively short amount of time Mr. Boyle came back to me with a rough draft of the score, and I can easily say that he followed my directions better than I could have ever hoped for. In addition to that, he had no hesitations in flavoring the piece with his own distinct musical elements which served to challenge me both as a choreographer and as a dancer. The score is woven together with an elegant and yet unpredictable sort of complexity, and suddenly my task as a choreographer became to no longer simply create elementary dance phrases to a 4/4 meter, but rather to find a way to blend the dance together with the score in order to create a seamless portrait of motion and sound.
I will take this moment to add that this is one of the things that I love most about collaboration, for if it were not for Mr. Boyle’s own creative initiative, I would not have been pushed to this new and exciting place, and the work may have never even had the potential to be something of a greater quality and worth. As of right now I am still in the preliminary stages of building the piece, but I hope that soon enough I will have created something worth watching. The piece will be shown during the April Choreographic Workshop presentations, which are on April 6th and 7th here at Juilliard. Now I am left to wonder, what to do about costumes?
Juilliard Dance 2020