About a year ago, I decided to make a Two Man Show, mostly because I felt the choreographic structure of the male duet was under-explored, both in terms of physical capacity and emotional breadth. In my experience, men dancing together is usually approached from the perspective of butch-man-dance or Brokeback Mountain-style homoeroticism. I wanted to see what else we could do.
An initial concern was that small cast collaborations can easily drift off into their own esoteric world, exploring ideas meaningful to them but risking incomprehensibility to a public that wasn't with them for the progression of their ideas. That concern, in conjunction with a desire for broad exploration of the male duet form and a general interest in complex, community-based processes, led me to a unique idea for the choreographic process.
Twelve Chicago-based choreographers from a wide range of dance backgrounds would each have twelve hours to choreograph a duet on the two performers. At the end of that process, we'd break all the duets apart and remix them to create a unique choreographic vocabulary out of strictly nothing but movements created by the original choreographers. That vocabulary would then be used to create a one act (60-75 minute) performance. Fun!
At this point, we've completed work with eight of the choreographers. The $3,000 dollar goal is what we need to finish working with the remaining four. The costs are choreographer fees, rehearsal hours for Michel, and studio rental.
The performers are myself and Michel Rodriguez Cintra. Michel is a Cuban dancer of epicly amazing physical capacity and a human being extraordinaire.
The twelve gracious choreographers (also known as source-material generators) are:
Francisco Avina, Nicolas Blanc, Autumn Eckman, Jonathan Fredrickson, Harrison McEldowney, Daniel "Brave Monk" Haywood, Ron de Jesus, Khecari (Jonathan Meyer and Julia Rae Antonick), Matthew McMunn, Julia Rhoads, Penny Saunders, and Robyn Mineko Williams
My lighting designer and technical director is multi-Emmy winner Todd L Clark.
Extensions Dance Center is our official rehearsal space.
Why this process? Art and movement generally benefit from time, complexity, and layering. Also, I think Chino and I will grow much better at dancing with each other by jointly adapting to all these different pieces than we would by spending the same amount of time doing our own thing.
Perhaps most importantly, a lot of the people involved are part of overlapping circles in Chicago's dance world but haven't necessarily worked together. This project hopes to bridge gaps between various parts of Chicago's scene, strengthening it while paying respect to the rich and varied tradition Chicago has in the field.
Risks and challenges
Problem number one to me was the risk of inaccessibility as a result of the artistic bubble of small cast creation. Having numerous choreographers was solution one. Even more importantly, the second/remixing phase of the rehearsal process will be very open. ANYONE who donates ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY can opt to receive our rehearsal schedule and drop in for ANY portion of ANY of our rehearsals. This reality should keep dialogue flowing and keep the final piece comprehensible. Most dancers' favorite part of the process is time in the studio, yet the public rarely has access to it. I think it's necessary for audiences to see (at some point) how dance is made before they can maximally appreciate the art in performance.
Another potential problem is the number of people to coordinate. Some have full time jobs, some are full time freelancers. Plus, Chino and I have complex schedules due to other projects. I chose twelve choreographers so that even if two or three fell through we would still have enough material to properly complete phase two. That said, everyone is pretty well scheduled in at this point, so it's looking like we dodged that bullet.
Beyond those issues, most problems arise from the normal pitfalls of non-profit arts production - the struggle for money and balancing thrift with quality. I have two primary safeguards against loss of quality; firstly, every single person involved in this project is AMAZING at what they do. Few things better assure success than good personel. Secondly, I've given myself a lot of time. With almost a year and a half from start to finish, we should be able to cope with the setbacks as they come.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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