I’m baaack. With more fun and games for my (hopefully) devoted following.
This time I’m going to talk a little bit about the rehearsal process, another area that can differ drastically from company to company, and even more specifically from choreographer to choreographer and from regisseur to regisseur. Choreographers are people who make dances. Taking inspiration from sources numerous and varied, they visualize movements, patterns, and formations, and direct the dancers to realize those visions. Regisseurs (in this context) are people who “set” ballets that have already been performed. Using videos, notes, and usually a highly developed memory, they reconstruct ballets from seasons past, teaching the steps and patterns to the dancers, and making sure that the work is performed as the original choreographer desired.
On a given day, I may find myself called (asked to show up) for several different flavors of rehearsals. If we are mounting a “new work” (a ballet that exists only in someone’s imagination), then the dancers will be working directly with a choreographer to create the new dance. This process can be incredibly arduous for all parties. Oftentimes the choreographer will have extremely specific and detailed ideas about how they want the piece to look. It can be very difficult to get the dancers to successfully understand and execute those ideas. Try as we might, we can’t always read minds.
Working on a new ballet usually means doing tiny little sections of choreography over and over again, tweaking things here, cutting things there, etc. etc. Frustration runs high, and tempers often fly. On the dancer’s side, we want to know exactly where to run, exactly which path our arms are following, and exactly how long to hold a given pose. More often then not, the choreographer can’t answer those questions right away and so we all operate in a state of semi-limbo until things are clarified, and the piece begins to come together.
If we are setting a ballet that has been performed previously, the rehearsal process *can* be somewhat more straightforward. The regisseur, ballet master/mistress, or other company staff member running the rehearsal is usually is familiar with exactly how the steps should be danced, and just needs to show the dancers what they are supposed to be doing. Of course, undoubtedly questions arise, and then there is the problem of remembering exactly what we are supposed to be doing. When you are working on three or four ballets at once, each with their own incredibly specific, particular steps and instructions, one can start to feel like one’s head is going to explode.
That’s about how my head feels right now. Wheee.
Seriously folks, I need some more ideas for this little series. What else would you be interested in hearing about?