Choreographing Out of Your Comfort-Zone

Choreographing Out of Your Comfort-Zone

Hi everyone!! 

It has been so long since I have written something! 

This week I am going to share with you all my choreography inspiration from my last show at UT- Spring Dance Happening. I didn’t share much during the actual process- probably because it gave me the most challenges. I am forever blessed to be given the opportunity to challenge my creativity in the dance studio. Seeing my work produced on-stage is always the cherry on top. 

What made it more worthwhile was embracing my journey and creative process during this. 

I personally enjoy choreographing more ballet-type pieces. My previous choreography, The Fools Who Dream (actually my first time choreographing) clearly showed this and reflected my ‘style’. I absolutely adored working through this process and successfully did it remotely. You can read a little bit more about that process here.

This past semester, I wanted to tackle something a little bit more out of my comfort zone. 

How did I do that ?

1. My focus was a little more abstract rather than narrative

2. The genre was more modern/contemporary & grounded 

3. Using an instrumental piece of music 

4. Having a much larger cast

5. The desire to push my dancers out of my comfort zone to tune into my piece’s concept. 

The concept for this piece focused on the noun Lacuna. By definition, lacuna is an unfilled space or gap; an interval in time. 

I randomly stumbled upon that word during one of my Pinterest rabbit holes one day. And it hit me. I went through so much change in the past year that I felt so empty at times. I had to seek ways in which I could fill those spaces with something healthy and something worthwhile and purposeful for my life. 

There were many moments where I felt alone, hopeless, and just missing something to help me. Throughout this chapter in my life, I pushed myself to be out of my comfort zone. During this process, I realized that I am so powerful during my moments alone. It crazy how much I learned and how much I was able to feed some dreams of mine that are now coming to fruition. 

I wanted to share this experience with others. 

I believe that often society pushes us to believe the narrative that being lonely is wrong. That you are supposed to have best friends, that you are supposed to have a spouse… if you are by yourself you are failing at life. 

Well my friends, let me tell you that that is the complete OPPOSITE. I had many realizations during my lonely moments. 

Here are a few:

1. No-one was stopping me. I often find that when we are surrounded by so many people, we forget out own identity because of them. We lose some sense of purpose and even lose our drive to pursue things that we wanted to. People’s opinions can also get the best of you as you may battle discussing your visions and dreams with others… you may not get the support you expected. Sometimes not having a lot of people there can benefit you so you don’t have many distractions pulling you away from the journey to finding your purpose. 

2. I gained a sense of independence & power. It’s hard to transition to do things on your own. I would get anxious and nervous all the time if I had to do so. I now encourage it because I have gained an extreme sense of confidence doing things on my own and knowing that I am fully capable of doing so. 

3. Lean on the right people. Do not cut everyone out of your life for the sake of wanting to be alone. I made that mistake for a short time as I lost people, I thought I had to do the same to others around me. It is important to know that there are people around you who care for you, support you, direct you, and can engage you in conversation and guidance into a right direction. Not everyone is for you, but not everyone is also against you. Remember that. 

Through these realizations & discoveries, I wanted to channel this through movement. I wanted to capture the emotion of loneliness rather than focusing on a narrative of people leaving you. 

During my choreographic process, I played a lot with spacing in the studio to translate on-stage, as well as movement concepts such as time, speed, direction, pathways, energy, and space. I also gave my dancers a very loose structure to work with and adapt- which is totally UNLIKE me. I love structure and planning… and quite frankly I went into each rehearsal not knowing what I was fully going to do or create. I worked with my dancers and their concepts of loneliness and integrated it with my movements. 

I played with the idea of gaps and spaces visually as I used unique formations on-stage and kind-of compartmentalized moments of loneliness: isolation, frustration & confusion, broken, and power/self-support. 

Each of those words my dancers came up with when I prompted them to think about words to describe loneliness and either improv or create a phrase that represented those phrases. 

My favorite idea was playing with the self-support section. I wanted them to use various parts of their bodies to initiate movements across the studio/stage. This reflected power and strength in oneself rather than coming from others. 

Lastly, a detail and concept I worked with was focus. Though the masks hid much of the emotion that dancers rely on to perform, we still had the focus of our eyes to use. I ensured that the dancers focused on each other, an individual or a group moving, so that it felt like those moving were a bit more isolated and different than the ones watching. I think this was done subtly and strongly in my piece and and also created a deeper relationship among my cast that radiated through their movements. 

All in all, the process was a tough one. I am happy that I accepted challenges with arms wide open otherwise I would not have progressed as much as I did. My amazing cast definitely supported me, encouraged me, and made my vision come to life. They saw me struggling and maintained to keep a positive atmosphere and were open to my crazy ideas and changes. I believe that my piece truly reflects that there is a greater strength to loneliness than one realizes. 

You can watch my full piece here! & follow me on Instagram for posts like this and more! 

Xoxo,

Jeanne-Marie 

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