DAE News August 26, 2001
Hi Folks! "As the shoe points" is long this edition so I put it towards the back for those who prefer not to wade through it.
Please take a moment to visit the Dance as Ever web site. There are updates throughout the site, including full details of our upcoming season and cool new photos of Peter Boal and me taken by Josef Astor. The raffle, auction and bazaar sites are also fully up and running. To go directly there - http://members.aol.com/dnceasever/auction.htm
I'd like to thank the people who donated to the company via the site (click on the yellow "donate now" button. It takes you to helping.org, an Internet clearinghouse for charities. There's no cost at all, either to you or to us; we get 100% of your donation and you save a stamp.) On site donations are nearly $500 so far.
AUCTION BIDS ARE COMING IN!
So far, people have made bids on Yvette Adonai's silk evening wrap and Eve Ng's lace shoulderette. There are tons of things to swoop down and check out, shawls and socks, and designs hand knit by the very designers you're reading about in your knitting magazines. Jane Elliot did a version of her "Yum Yum Tree" as a pillow, Judy Sumner made us a cashmere version of her boudoir socks from Interweave Knits, Gayle Roehm did a white mohair version of her "Sleeves in your Pi" shawl. Check them out and bid on them!
For those who don't like bidding, check out the bazaar page. Hats, socks and scarves are there, including three by me, all for a set price, most for under $50. Email me, write us a check, and it's yours.
If your budget is smaller and you're friends with Lady Luck, try our raffle, with tons of knitting prizes (and some non-knitting ones too!) Tickets are $5 per chance or $50 for 11. If you haven't gotten tickets in the mail, email me and I'll be happy to send you some.
Last year's fundraising activities (Raffle, bazaar and auction) raised over $5,000 for Dance as Ever. Visit the site, admire the work of fellow artisans and knitters and help us to bring you dance!
Want to help in ways besides writing a check? Here are things you can do to help Dance as Ever! Here's what we still need.
AS THE SHOE POINTS
Less than a month to go!
Things are moving apace. Three of the ballets are set and done, waiting for the fourth. I wish I had kept a diary this year; although it's exhausting to write even as you make, the process of creating the works has been fascinating.
Scherzo Fantastique is completely set and we've even done some cleaning. At this point it will be run three times a week with very minimal rehearsal until the final week so it doesn't get stale. It is possible to over-rehearse a ballet to the point where it has no spontaneity. I'm pleased it revived very well, I think a lot of the credit for that goes to Mary, who took the lead in resetting it. Because she was in the original cast, the chain of performers hasn't been broken. The most interesting moments are when we recall something differently. I know what I originally asked for. She knows what that mutated into over rehearsal and cleaning. Also, every now and again she has a motivation for a step that was very successful, but so personal that I'll try and keep the other two from copying it.
Peter and Ryan have left for Europe on tour with NYCB, Midare and Duet are videotaped in case we forget anything and also so the designers can look at them. Midare was videotaped twice, once from the front for the designers and once from the back, for the kotoist, so she can see the solo the way she will see it when she is playing at the rear of the stage. Both works will be picked up when the men return shortly before the performance.
The showing on the 20th went very well, especially considering how early on in the rehearsal period we did it. I discovered it was beneficial in ways I hadn't anticipated. With a nice full crowd of about 50 people, we raised money, and good will, but I had forgotten how useful it was for me to see the ballets with an audience. I got more of a sense of the duet, and where I might want to go to finish it (but I was wrong! More below. . .) and also learned a lot about how the audience perceives Scherzo. Because we're involved with the process of the ballet, it's easy for the cast and me to understand, but some of the audience finds it cryptic. I have mentioned Tennessee Williams when describing it, I found out (again) that throws people even more. I don't mean there's anything Southern about the ballet, what I'm talking about are the larger-than-life heroines of the films made out his plays. It comes from the music. The score by Suk, though composed about 30 years before them, reminds me of the film scores of other central Europeans like Korngold and Herrmann who emigrated to Hollywood and composed soundtracks. And the episodic structure and mood swings of the music are what propel the ballet.
Duet has been one of those ballets where I went into the room thinking I would do one thing, discovered that the ballet wanted to be something entirely different, and then had to spend time combing the original idea out of what the work had become. I started thinking the ballet would have a sinister or aggressive cast to it. But I disliked that from the outset, it felt too much like a cliché. I think I was listening to the tinniness of the harpsichord when I planned it, but ended up choreographing to smoothness of the flute. This has happened several times before. There was a specific lift in a ballet I did in 1993 that was the first thing I imagined for the work, but since it came near the end of the ballet, I didn't set it until much later on. By the time I got to it, I had made a work where the original idea really didn't fit. I removed the lift when I revived the work in '99. After seeing what had been choreographed to that point performed at the showing, I thought the work was a little too white-on-white. I tried adding an epilogue, repeating the first movement but with the space compressed and the dancers uncomfortably close to each other. It took me a day before I decided it was a good idea, but for some other ballet. It didn't fit with what I had made.
Some of the greatest fun of production isn't in the room proper, but during the planning and brainstorming, when the possibilities are endless, rather than winnowed out. The costume designer (David), the set designer (Matt) and I met yesterday to go over sketches and designs. David began with swatches for the new work, Green, and as you might guess, they are. About 20 different shades of green from aqua through apple and emerald. Iridescent, mirrored, tulles, silks. . . it's a verdant abundance. I asked him to do something unexpected with the romantic tutu. The first thing he pulled out was a lithograph of Fanny Elssler in Ondine from the 1840s, which had a surprising asymmetrical bodice. One side actually gave the illusion of being bare breasted, with a garland of twining berries covering the nipples. It was quite risqué! David and I considered the bareness impractical, but we all loved the asymmetrical wrapping. Matt was taken by the lithograph's aqueous setting; Elssler appeared out of a scallop shell with lilypads scattered about. It seemed like a green gauze was drawn across the front of the stage like a low scrim to simulate a water line. I think he wants to reproduce that if possible. The trick is to make it fascinating without being obscuring. (Hey, I still want people to be able to see the dance!)
David has costumed Peter in pale gold pants (much more fitted than the ones you will see on the postcard) and a wide belt inspired by an obi. Our only question was the color of the belt. David had planned it in natural, I asked for a stronger color, because I thought the costume needed one strong statement. He had planned to have small amounts of red in it, thinking more would be too much; now we'll go with much more red.
I did not think Midare needed a set. The moment Matt saw it on tape, he insisted it did, but only one small gesture. There are a few questions one asks immediately when beginning to design a ballet. Is it outdoors or indoors? What time of day is it? Midare seems to take place in a transitional place, the sort of interior courtyard or pavilion that would be in Japanese homes to bring the outdoors in. It's around noontime, and the light (a pale, powdery light) would be directly overhead, but this is a courtyard somehow shielded from a direct light source. Matt's not sure what he will do, but what was discussed was a distant landscape or a moon, like Japanese woodblock prints.
Duet stumped both Matt and David, just like it stumped me. The one thing we didn't want to do was to put the men in period costumes. So what to do instead? My insistence was that it be elegant. David wanted blue. We started leafing through fashion magazines, after David left, Matt and I came upon something we thought was useful enough to tear out the page and mail to him. It was actually a woman's shirt by Saint-Laurent, but with horizontal wrinkled pleats and lacing attaching the parts of the shirt rather than sewing. I thought it had a perfect sense of elegance and reference to it. We'll see what he does!
It still surprises me, but each year I get a little more accustomed to navigating the process of the production. There are always hurdles to jump, but I know the course. We're getting closer to production frenzy, so I've started to tell the dancers to remind me repeatedly about small details; if they want them done, to make sure I write them down on my notepad. I've nearly used up one pad so far. I have a PDA, but during the concert I find myself reverting back to paper; the stuff gets put on and taken off too fast to enter it. Happily, there is still plenty of food in the house (I cooked and froze a lot before rehearsals began!), and amazingly, I'm knitting a lot! Almost always during the concert, I stop knitting (my brain is too full) but I've been knitting on the subway ride to the studio most days. I finished the body of a cardigan for Mary and the body and one sleeve of Abe's late-for-his-birthday sweater.
The casualty seems to be my email inbox. I'm very backlogged on long correspondence. Please accept my apologies if I haven't written you back. If there's something you need a quick answer on, please write again and let me know what you need; I'll try to do it as quickly as possible.
If you’d like to be on a mailing list for my knitting writing or one for dance writing, just let me know. If you're not on our postal mailing list and want to get this year's cool card with Peter Boal on it, email me your postal address!
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