Lets start at the very beginning, a very place to start. How do you make dance? What do you do first? You generate material.
I like to create the majority of the movement for a piece through improvisation. I do often bring in some set choreography when I enter a rehearsal process but that was most likely generated from a pervious personal improvisation.
For this piece the dancers and I began with an activity I unabashedly like to call The Oracle. Not only is it much like those soothsayers at Delphi, a message springing forth from the unknown and being interpreted and re-interpreted by those who have received their fate; but also it sounds so pretentious and self-aggrandizing. Which is fun! In this incarnation the message is the movement and we speak for the unseen.
The process begins by having a dancer in the center improvise to a chosen piece of music. The other dancers situated on the perimeter watch the improviser looking for moments of movement that resonate with them. They then take a short a mount of time to repeat the movement on their own bodies so to solidify the muscle memory. Each dancer then takes several of the captured moments and strings them together into a phrase. Then each dancer teaches their phrase to the others.
I like this method for a few reasons. Improvisation allows for individual style and a natural ease. It prevents me from unconsciously recycling material from other pieces and it comes from the dancers own body so I know they will be capable of performing it with accuracy and finesse. Also it creates unique and unexpected dynamics. This method democratizes the movement by having the other dancers choose what the important moments are. You could say every dancer can get their stink on the material. Charmed. I am sure. Finally it is delightfully efficient. A large amount of material can be generated in very short a mount of time.
We will continue to develop and refine this material making it suitable for the needs of the piece in the coming weeks. I hope you stick around to see how that works out!