On the heels of last week’s McKellen/Nunn/Gardner stories regarding the health of repertory theatres and the state of English acting, Lyn Gardner asks for commenters to name excellent actors of the younger generation. The comments get pretty heated, but ask some good questions.
Nichelle offers advice on choreographing for musical theatre. I loved reading about her process.
Americans in the Arts lists the Top 10 Skills Children Learn from the Arts.
Joe Patti asks an interesting question- “At what point does a work of art cease to be art?”
Daniel Siedell thinks artists behave strangely to justify their place in the world. And here, I just thought I was weird. (HT: The Daily Dish)
Interesting Reads on Other Topics
Elena Passarello details our evolutionary changes to create our voices- “It’s a fact—we only speak because we had to, and we literally re-wired ourselves to meet that burning need for self-expression.”
Virginia Woolf on the difference between reading and learning. (HT: The Daily Dish)
Seth Godin on the differences between anticipation and anxiety. I hope I can start to channel my anxiety into anticipation!
Entries in choreography (12)
Almost 2 weeks ago now, the first show I ever directed was in performance. I was VERY nervous. I was the one in charge of this production. I taught the music and the dances, helped design the set and costumes. Most importantly, I was in charge of 20 children, and getting them to learn their lines, their intentions, their story, their blocking, and then remember all of those things.
To me, a director is a guide. She holds the map, and steers all of the moving parts to the final destination. It’s like a roadtrip. With 20 children.
Like most trips, there are pit stops, and sometimes even detours- “Well, we were going to do that scene today, but Louise has a soccer game....” Sometimes you threaten to turn the car around- “Next week, if you do not know those lines, I’m giving them to someone else.” Sometimes you have to change a flat tire- “You know what, let’s add Susie to this song, too. It could use another voice....”
My job, as a director, is to make a space safe for my actors to make choices. I make sure the car is ready to make the trip, and that we have everything we need to get there. I give them parts I think are right for them. I help them understand what they are saying and why they are saying it. I give them time to rehearse. I make sure their characters and stories stay consistent throughout the process. And then, I let them do it.
Continuing from Isaac Butler's post at Parabasis, and my post last week- What are some dangerous myths about art-making for you? What are the myths you confront that get in the way of our own ability to get work done?
1. You have nothing new (or relevant) to say.
I think the most dangerous myth for me, and the one that gets in my way most often. In Ecclesiastes, it says there is nothing new under the sun, and I live in fear of that statement. With the sheer volume of dances that I create for shows (currently I have 4 shows I'm choreographing and another that I am both directing and choreographing), I am always worried that they will look the same, be the same, become boring.
The way to alleviate this danger is to constantly serve the story. As long as the movement supports the story being told, it will remain relevant. Even if I used pique turns in the last 4 shows, or if this entire number is all about hip-shaking. As long as that is what the story needs, it works.
2. You are not qualified for this.
This may be a corollary of #1. I remember saying to a friend, shortly before I moved to Miami, that I had this fear that one day, someone would turn to me and say "How did you get here?! What makes you think you can do this?!"
My friend (being a friend), thought I was crazy. But I think this is something a lot of artists have nagging in the back of their minds. In some ways, it's good. We become motivated to NEVER hear that, and work our butts off. But negative motivation is not healthy. We need to realize our work is appreciated by someone, or we wouldn't be where we are, making a life by making art. Not everyone will get it, or us. Let it go. Take the work as your validation.
3. Only those who suffer make good art.
I've been accused, by people I love very much, of always needed a fight, a struggle. And that can be true. I like to be the underdog, the unexpected. To be able to turn the bad into good. But it is also exhausting.
Creating art is not the act of turning bad into good. It is the act of turning nothing into something. A blank page, empty stage, unplayed instrument, lump of clay, molded by our hands and ideas into art. You don't have to be poor, do drugs, have a broken heart, or be certain that everyone hates you in order to make good art. You must simply not fear nothingness. Be fearless. Create art.
(image from www.youngmanandoldsoul.tumblr.com)
I'm preparing to apply for the Teaching Artist Certificate program at UArts, and part of the process is something I likely should have done ages ago- writing my Artistic Statement. An Artistic Statement is who I am as an artist, and who I strive to be. In Googling for example, I found many fun Artistic Statement generators. While hilarious, I don't think they'll impress the auditors.
I did find a series of questions and prompts, courtesy of Molly Gordon, meant to evaluate and inspire, and they're quite useful. So, my next series of posts (which will be consistent and timely) will be answers to those as I form my statement. Culminating, of course, in the finished product.
I've been working at Hedgerow Theatre for over a year. It's been an incredible, fun, educational, illuminating year.
I started out as a choreographer. Just coming in, teaching a dance and leaving. In early December, that changed, when I happened to mention to the costume designer that I would be willing to be onstage. And I practically haven't stepped off since.
Hedgerow is slightly unique in its design. It is a resident repertory theatre. The company also does about 90% of the work- admin, tech, acting, maintence. They are an amazingly talented, creative, hard-working group. I feel lucky to be with them.
I've choreographed. I've acted. I've sung. I've taught. I've stage managed, including running lights and sound. I've written grants. I've helped with auditions. I've learned the Box Office. There's very little I haven't done (Like demolishing the downstairs bathroom at the house. I'm not to be trusted with sledgehammers.).
I've learned so much. About myself as an artist, a teacher, an administrator, a friend. I've certainly become a more confident choreographer, teacher and artist. I'm doing it all the time, so that helps to build it. I have a creative team around me that believes in me. Gives me opportunities to work, explore, experiement.
It's been astonishingly hard work. And I wouldn't change any of it for the world.