Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One Of These Things First

Dancers, when learning a new piece, speak about "getting it in their body." They mean that they're teaching themselves a sort of muscle memory. I've seen dancers who haven't danced a piece in years, walk into a studio and suddenly partner with someone as if they'd danced it yesterday because it's in their body. I guess it's like learning a song; once the melody and the words are there in your head, it could pop in at any time.

There were several new things about doing this work for me. I had to get the dance in my body--or at least in my hand--so I could draw it quickly. I had to reduce my daydream period, the part where I just stare at dancers and lose myself in the music and wait for the drawing to happen. I had to know this dance like I was dancing it.

I had to rehearse.

Whenever I doodle, when I let go of the need to create a nice finished drawing that I can sign and look at, I get a little crazy. Drawing is the one thing I know I can depend on--me and an empty piece of paper can make something happen. The only condition is that I can't have any expectations.

There's a paradox in this, of course. Usually, I'm pretty confident that the drawing will turn out alright; But, I also have to believe that it won't, and either way, it's going to surprise me. But the perfectionist in me expects results--a drawing that is good and that I can sign.

Well, I like doodling. I like letting loose and seeing what will happen. But I also like finishing things. I like the safety of accomplishing something concrete at the end of a day. There's a reason I draw in sketchbooks where I don't tear out the pages and I try to finish every drawing I start.

There's a reason I stopped pursuing being an actor and ended up doing this drawing thing instead.

I have control issues.

And rehearsal is a challenge for people with control issues. Just ask any single person in a rehearsal.

Martine asked me if I was going to plan the drawing or just let it happen every performance and I said I was going to spend weeks overthinking it, learning the dance and the themes inside and out, practicing it over and over and then letting it all go when it came time to perform and seeing what would happen.

But, that's not exactly the way it went . . .


Blogger Jonny said...


6:56 PM  

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