Day 26 - 15 days until the performance
Chuck and I work on Aubade first. We don’t do a run-through, but rather work on isolated sections. I give notes on a few steps, but I’m not unhappy with the way he’s handling his technique, and don’t feel a need to nit-pick. Rather, at one point, I see him looking towards the “balcony” pensively, but in a way that seemed to me indistinct; someone “acting” sad rather than being sad. So I ask him what he was doing at that point. Chuck starts to tell me the story he’s made up in his mind about the ballet, without specifics (I don’t want them because they’re unnecessary) but that the woman he’s dancing for is someone he likes, but it’s an impossible situation. I start to watch a few phrases of it and I become excited because I can see how that might work. The dancing becomes a way of saying, “Even though this can never work, I remember that wonderful time we had together.” She may not be at that balcony to which he’s directing his dancing, it may simply be the place where they first met. The danced phrases become conversational in nature, especially the repeated steps. Now, they’re no longer musical repeats, but emphases of a point, done for the same reason one might repeat the same things in a conversation. “Do you remember? Do you remember?” I can see the idea works for Chuck. The phrases become taut and start to shimmer with an inner life. We’re not working together Friday (he’s working with Susan Hendl of NYCB, which I’m pleased about.) but I’m looking forward to the next rehearsal even more than usual. It’s become more than pretty steps.
We have a calm and productive rehearsal of Horizon, and it’s a refreshing change from the previous two days! Lots of progress gets made, we go over the third movement and I tinker a bit with the new section to make it move better (it’s a matter of changing some spatial patterns and inserting a fouette before an arabesque). I then teach the three pas de deux in the second movement, changing them all slightly to suit the dancers. Adriana’s becomes more linear, she gets more extensions, and the angles get changed to show off her legs. I’m really impressed with how Mary coped with hers. This ballet is not her best ballet (that’s Scherzo, which she very nearly steals). It’s simply too abstractly technical for her. Mary has technique, but not without motivation, and she’s not a leggy dancer, and this ballet is all legs. But what we did was took a pas de deux built on a long limbed, almost floppy dancer and changed that entire elastic quality that the pas originally had to the specific sort of adagio quality she does best; that sort of McKerrow-Kirkland like delicacy where one gently resists every step with the chest and arms as if one were walking underwater. Almost none of the steps were changed (whip turns were changed to finger turns), it was a question of emphasis. It was also why I cast her in that specific dancer’s part. I knew she didn’t have the same adagio quality that the original dancer did, but I knew she could produce one that would be equivalent. Frances’ section gets changed the least it seems, questions of favoring one leg over another or changing the position of a lift. She and Tai, who originally performed the role, actually have a similar linear quality, so the changes I make are more to suit Frances than to suit my eye.