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Day 7

Morgan makes it in, bleary eyed from cold medication, but at least corporeally present enough to be nudged into the correct spot. Very little new choreography is made today; holes are patched instead. The end of the ballet has not been choreographed, but it’s about three-quarters completed. At this point in a work, I tend to be loath to introduce any new ideas into a work, preferring to stay with thematic material already developed. I believe it makes the construction sounder. The ballet reminds me of a bridge with the main piers hammered into the ground; the final rehearsals are spent constructing the spans. We begin inserting Morgan into the sections choreographed since she was last here, with me making decisions where in the group she is placed, and which dancers do what sections. A pleasant surprise is how much more comfortable Frances looks today and it shows in her dancing. There’s still accuracy, but now there’s also a flow, and better still, a genuine relaxed enjoyment of the process. The transitions between most of the central sections (the solos between the third and fourth repeats of the main waltz phrase) are made. We figure out how Frances begins her yearning section, how Adriana leaves before her jumping section. Interestingly, some of the transitions are dance phrases; some of them are acting. I’ve learned that the overall effect of a ballet is often determined by those final transitions set into the work and it’s why I often leave holes in the dance when I don’t have a great idea for a certain section of music. As I understand the work better the more of the dance I make, I use the unchoreographed holes as an opportunity to bolster the atmosphere of the dance. Those undetermined sections become crucial coloring. I leave Morgan’s section for tomorrow, assuming Morgan with fewer sinus problems is a better Morgan on which to choreograph. There’s about 12-13 minutes of ballet done at the end of the day, with Morgan’s section (under a minute), two minutes between the fourth and fifth waltz repeats and the final minute of the ballet to set.

David Quinn, our costume designer, comes today and is the first person other than myself to see the ballet. Even though I enjoy people watching my work, I can tell I’m a nervous parent because an almost involuntary narrative pours forth in a whisper as the dancers dance. David, bless his heart, ignores me and watches the dance instead. The only thing concrete we decide is that the women will be in flesh-colored soft slippers. He has many other ideas, but wants to talk with me about them later. He tells me he wants a heavier fabric than chiffon; I think he senses the weight of the dance. I mention that I think the colors for this should be dusty. The idea of a sort of genteel dilapidated quality becomes central to the work. The dancers and I keep making Tennessee Williams references, and I have the idea that the costumes should look faded, perhaps colors that once were saturated before thirty years of storage in a dusty closet.