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Day 16 – 29 days until performance


This was just a frustrating day for me, a true mid-point doldrums day. I felt like I was just spinning my wheels and wasting everybody else’s time. I guess I was frustrated because it’s practically impossible to assemble a full cast for the ballet. Morgan had to be out Tuesday through Thursday this week, Frances wasn’t able to get into rehearsal today until the last third of it, Mary needs to come in late on Friday and leave early on Monday, Adriana’s husband just surprised her with a trip for their first anniversary, but didn’t consult her about her schedule and now she may not be in on Monday. I may have a full cast for this ballet for four hours on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. I can never feel certain about choreography until I have the cast in front of me, doing the steps, so everything I set today felt like a pencil sketch, nothing felt final. It was like I was marking time.

I began by making solo material for Mary and Abraham, for the same reason as I made it for the others, to find a way to make their individual qualities classical. Mary is having trouble with the sustained lines of the ballet because of the way she approaches things. The day before, she joked with me and said, “I think we better come up with my motivation for this dance real soon.” To ameliorate that, I keep her moving. Her solo is quick and darting, like a hummingbird. “This should be very carbonated.” I say to her and she looks at me, puzzled. “You know, fizzy.” I put in pas courus for her (runs on point) and she immediately brightened. “I like pas couru. No one else does, but I do.” She does them well, also.

Abraham’s solo is simple, but makes use of his lines. His difficulty is making movement fluid, he tends to overemphasize individual movements from a desire to show that he knows what the steps are. He also tends to overjump most aerial steps, so I have to check that as well. What is lovely, however, is that his feet are always pointed and his knees are always stretched. If his ports de bras aren’t fluid, they are at least simple and correct. There’s definitely something to work with here. I’m feeling rotten, though, because while I’m working with Abraham and Mary, Adriana has gone off to read the newspaper. I don’t think she minds, but I somehow feel as if I’ve planned rehearsals badly if I have a dancer there needlessly. And yet, it’s impossible not to, especially in a work that’s being formed as one makes the steps.

Once I’m done with Abraham, we work on more material for the fugue with the three of them. It goes slowly for me. I make it one step at a time, appending and looking at the whole phrase, but every step feels overused, nothing feels inspired. Somehow, though, I end up making an acceptable phrase, and when we come to a loud phrase in the music, I give Abraham a chance to do grand allegro. This fugue has words, and this year, I’ve found that I often choreograph puns to lyrics, more for my own amusement than to illustrate the words to the audience. At Ballet Pacifica this summer, when I was working on Come Ye Sons of Art to Purcell, two men came on and took a woman’s hand on the words “thus she supports.” On the words “strike the viol” the man touched his partner’s waist with a plucking motion. And in this ballet, on the words “for the sake of showing off” Abraham does a double tour to the knee. It’s not central the ballet to get the joke, but I did like that Mary cracked a smile when she saw what I had done.

Frances races in breathless for the final hour, trying to apologize, but I just tell her to change and we’ll get to work, but alas, I proceed to make a singularly uninspired duet on her and Adriana. I then try to place Abraham and Mary’s material to appropriate music, but everything looks as if it were choreographed in silence and dropped on the music. I press on with it, but I’m relieved when Adriana has to leave a bit early, and we review the material and I don’t have to make up anymore steps. I’m frazzled and tired, but I’ve been choreographing too long to be upset by a day when the muse doesn’t visit.

Tomorrow is, after all, another day.