On July 10, 2017 I attended “Dancing in the Making Room” an Open Rehearsal and Shared Practice session of the Bebe Miller Company during their residency for a new work which will premiere at Columbus, Ohio’s Wexner Center for the Arts on November 30, 2017.
Choreography and direction: Bebe Miller; Performers: Michelle Boulé, Sarah Gamblin, Angie Hauser, Darrell Jones, Bronwen MacArthur, Bebe Miller, and Trébien Pollard; Dramaturgy: Talvin Wilks
Before some friends and I joined-in with the company for score/movement research, I observed a bit of the BMC process and wrote the notes below:
I walk into something already happening. They finish and immediately talk to the dramaturg: Talvin. And then Bebe speaks of the “depth at which we are in, and the slide into something. It makes a state.” How do you open your focus up and out?
Feral – there are names for each score. They speak in image; in imaginary. Angie always knows Bebe who says “I notice a lot of arms.” Body, torso, weight. “Not too many and not too often.”
Happenstance. “You have a point of view and it wasn’t their’s.” Duet, solo, trio – that needs more acknowledgement.
Drilling. “I feel like it’s like you’re trying to have too many things and I’m not sure…” – Talvin.
They work in small groups to remember things. Duets mostly. Bebe stands in the middle of the room. Watching, seeing. She turns to talk to the table – Talvin, the dramaturg; Lila the company administrator; and the sound composer (whose name I’m unable to remember just now) “so, musically…”
Angie and Michelle mark through their duet, complete with jokes and sound effects that represent the material, alongside flips of gesture, giggles abound.
Tré and D work in a quieter way. Slower, more directly physical. Their bodies remember the material without sound, still laughter is involved.
These people are goofy as they look into their memory. You can see this is fun; they like each other. The work is exhausting, but the room and their effort remains joyful.
Bebe asks about tone: the relation of tones in the body.
I begin to write what I see in the tone of the piece. Darrell stands. The ‘ease-of -watching’ tone in D and Tré is set against the ‘line-of-tension’ tone in Sarah’s crawl. The ‘invested-but-not-effortful’ tone of M and A. Tone of intention of Angie’s focus and head/neck with falling softness of hand down Michelle’s face. Her ‘intention’ tone remains with floppy feet – fluttering feet.
A tone of attention disperses as they try to figure what comes next. You can tell who knows. The others spread the awareness out to find, to listen.
The line. The body has a suspended tone. Still or waiting, the eyes fix or call to watch. It’s like the tone is different in the hand from the eyes. It calls attention to a certain thing- like to Darrell’s half-covered eye.
This rises to this and then this rises to that.
The amplification and fall, not just the push.
“I feel like we are chasing our own potential” – Bebe