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Day 31 - 7 days until the performance

A long, crazy day. I thought I was leaving early for rehearsal when to my horror, I realized I had left the music tapes and CD’s at the office, and I did not have any extra copies at home. After an interminable cab ride through Times Square to the office to retrieve the tapes I tried to hail a cab back to the studio. I narrowly avoided a confrontation with two very large black women who sauntered right in front of me to hail a cab after I had been attempting without success for five minutes and my temper was quite short. I’m not sure if I would have been the first choreographer to appear on Jerry Springer for “Jell-O wrestling with people who steal your cab” but I opted to run the 16 blocks to the studio instead. It ended up being faster than my original cab ride.

I arrived 30 minutes late for my hour-long rehearsal with Chuck, but we managed a decent rehearsal anyway, going through Aubade musically once, than running it full out. The piece is ready to be put on stage. At this point, I just enjoy watching it. David took measurements for Chuck’s costume, Jeff was there making a video and making notes for lighting cues.

Horizon rehearsal consisted of cleaning the second movement and about 3/4 of the third movement and a full run through. It’s progressing, but the scale and the size of the dance means that rehearsals are still more tiring than any of the others - six people in a room all trying to figure out what they do and what they need at once. Like most dancers, I don’t get it when people have problems with something that comes naturally to me. I have tremendous sympathy for someone having technical struggles, but just cannot comprehend problems with retention or musicality. I know intellectually to be patient, and I think I am, but my understanding is purely on an intellectual level. Viscerally, when I see someone simply unable to hear a musical cue or remember sequence, I keep wondering why he or she can’t do something so patently obvious to me. Still, they run the ballet and it’s shaping up. I need to get them to a certain comfort level with it, so they don’t look like they are assaulting a particularly treacherous mountain peak or rappelling up a sheer cliff. Part of that is my choreography, the ballet takes a lot of stamina. It’s 23 minutes with only brief rests for each dancer. I was going to say that my work has gotten less demanding, but it hasn’t. Horizon, Les Noces (1996), and Reger/Mozart Variations (1998) are all dense 22-25 minute ballets with intricate petit allegro work that are demanding on both the body and the mind because they tend to be complex in structure and repetitive, but with slight variations to make them even more fiendish. Horizon is more driving and angular than the other works, but I made it at a point when my only model for choreography was Balanchine. I can tell the difference that broadening my dance viewing made in my choreography, Horizon is a massive, final closing of an insular period for me as a choreographer. I also notice that in this diary, there comes a point in each work when I can finally see what I’ve done, both as the dance stands alone and in relation to my other work and I start describing the work almost as if I were writing about some other choreographer, not myself. It must seem very self-absorbed, but it’s part of the final stages of making the dance for me. I don’t quite know what I’ve made until I really, really look at it.

After rehearsal is done, Mary, Abraham and I trek out to Queens to Peter’s studio to record the vocal sections of the score for Armature. Abraham comes along as a lark but proves invaluable, because he marks the dance Mary is narrating at tempo, becoming her guide and metronome. Mary is recording a narration of the steps of two sections, plus a few simple sentences (“This is the beginning of the ballet”) all done to focus the audience’s attention on the structure and inner workings, the armature of a ballet. It takes three hours and several glasses of warm water to record about four minutes of spoken material, but we get what I think are good tempos and correct inflections. It was above and beyond the call of duty for both of them (we all got home well after 11 p.m.) and I promised to take both of them out for dinner.