To be a choreographer, you have to have an interest in, if not a full on passion for, the moment. The ephemerality of dance is part of the uniqueness of the form and of the beauty and importance of live performance. Every run of a work, no matter how well rehearsed or precisely executed, is still different, from the subtle irregularities of live action – one balance held just a beat longer, one focus shift to a new direction – to the more extreme changes of a new cast with a different set of skills and individual flair. Plus there’s the inevitable reality that something will always go wrong, or at least not quite right, requiring an on-the-spot solution. You can rehearse all you want but it’s hard to prepare for a blinding drop of sweat in your eye, or an irritating toe cramp from pointing too hard. The challenges are even greater when working outdoors when bright sun, shifting winds, and the rest of the outside world (i.e. reality) keep you on your toes while you’re on stage. When talking with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival about performing this summer, we knew we wanted to reach into our history and take the opportunity to celebrate our company’s 10th anniversary with a free, outdoor repertory show. We’re looking back at our work and reminding ourselves that just as live dance is always of the moment, the works we make are never really done. So for this show, we’re revisiting and revising, bringing three variations on older works to the park. We’ve had the fun of taking apart our own work with fresh eyes, looking at what moments still pop (or don’t), and what might stand strong amidst the beauty of the Gardens without the aid of intense stage lighting and sets. We’re thankful for the opportunity to breathe a new and different life into these creations from our past. And we’re definitely thankful for the opportunity to share our passion for the intangible, unpredictable, ever-changing moment. Here is what we have in store for September 5th and 6th.
Checkbox was created for Union Square Park in 2007, with a cast of nine dancers taking over the bustling square. For YBG Festival, seven women will revive the work, mixing the original abstract choreography with new elements and twists dashed throughout.
The second work on the program, After 5:00, has been performed in New York, Chicago, Providence, St. Louis, Singapore, Liaoyuan, and extensively throughout the Bay Area. It has been performed in theaters, nightclubs, and gallery spaces. If there is ever a work that has been reinvented and made fresh through new atmospheres and new tweaks, it’s this duet, a piercing look into a codependent relationship. It is an emotional rollercoaster with a unique path every time.
Originally created as a culmination of RAWdance’s residency at SF’s ODC Theater.
Hiding in the Spaces Between
This was an evening-length work including 3D animation projections (complete with old fashioned red/blue glasses), LED video art, and elaborate futuristic costumes and set. While we love the idea of getting everyone in the Gardens to put on 3D glasses, the pesky sun complicates things a bit! But by stripping away some of the media and flashy elements, we’ve also been given a chance to revive the bones of the piece and rediscover what really clicked. While we miss rocking the white paper shades, these excerpts emphasize what we really love to do – move!
~ Ryan Smith, RAWdance Artistic Director