LDTP doing LOCA at the University of Texas in El Paso
November 11, 2013
Landed in Chicago after taking an American Airlines flight from Rochester, New York; I headed straight for Frontera, the wonderful restaurant chain created by Rick Bayless, you know the dude who does the cooking show, who knows how to do serious food research of another culture he was not born in. I have to say he has Mexican food down. Anyway, I went to this place in the Chicago airport as a rehearsal of what was to come in El Paso. Ordered Cochinitl con Pipil or something like that and it was a delicious blend of sandwich with pork and vinegary red onions. Delicioso. Consumed with a glass of Victoria cerveza; it became a cosmic experience when I tried the salsa habaneros. Whew! My entire nasal system opened up for several moments.
Arrived in El Paso and found Licia And Jose in baggage claim. Andrea and JJ picked us up along with Eva and her crew. I should have tried the enchiladas that Barbara made; she is one of Andrea’s beautiful dance students who also works as a chef; volunteered to make us great home cooking. Her contribution truly made this a special gig. Andrea Vazquez is an amazing Latina choreographer, who loves her students and is great at inspiring them to do their best work. Currently, she is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Texas in El Paso. She faced the challenge of language when she studied at the College at Brockport and walked away with honors. We did the first LOCA gig on Friday, November 8th 2013. I began the festival by reading the manifesto I created on the plane. Licia and Eva loved it and will post it on the website. I have also included it at the end of this writing.
We then had students do a 45-minute warm-up led by Lulu, who did a fantastic job. She is so funny and warm the students loved her carefree nature. Then Jose invited students to do a vocal warm-up, which they got into; he introduced them to a vocal technique known as Farangia, which was taught during the 16th/17th century to vocalists and it preceded the use of full voice. He uses it as a warmup for his voice so that it is not so taxing. Following this exercise, Licia and Jose had students engage with the handshake exercise. He did this before when we did the Dallas gig.
One person goes out on the floor and strikes a pose that is shape oriented. A second joins first person and finds a way to express a handshake with that person. Then, first person breaks their original shape and continues the process of creating a handshake with their partner. Ad infinitum it goes until it builds. Then they extended this idea by incorporating sound/language and accelerating movement changes.
Following this, Eva had them do the object exercise.
LOCA CREATIVE PROCESS EXERCISE
Put together a group of varied objects for students to choose from to spark ideas.
Choose an object as a group
Create a list of words you free-associate with that object
Do not veto or edit your thinking as you create the list
Share with group your list
Listen and create a theme from the collection of words
Make a structured improvisation based on your theme
Incorporate sound, language, music, body as design, pure action
Get observation feedback from audience (what did you see?)
Reflect on what you are trying to do, making sure you follow the parameters of the project
Seek connections by listening
Allow associations to surface
Identify qualities or characteristics of objects
Make observations without vetoing
After the workshop, students wanted us to see their work, which was passionate; the ideas as well as the composition were sound and varied. Style of dancing was very physical, one in which dancers accepted their impact on the floor. Lots of partnering involved. Saw four dance works in all. Where was my camera when I needed this? Need to ask Andrea to record these works for me so I can add this material or data to my research. They were so excited to have us view their work, I felt humbled by the experience and they were grateful.
We went through the entire show spacing and running lines. Trying to remember when you are tired proved to be challenging.
We went to Andreas’ house afterward for a dinner of chicken in a tomato sauce with rice. Delicious with beer, I also tried Marzipan, which is too rich for me. But the conversation and food offered us a lovely evening.
Saturday came with our attention on the reconstruction of Slumber of Reason. And this is after not having done it in a little over a year. Did a run through and took a break for lunch around 1:00 pm. With the help of the Hilton Garden Inn van, we got to Rulis, an international eatery where I had a delicious meal of chicken and pesto. Very good! Drank a lot of water because it is so dry in El Paso. We walked back to the hotel and held a board meeting. I took minutes and we talked about Lulu’s work with grant writing. She is trying to get us there again. We wish her luck because this has been a challenging year for her; she wrote eleven grants and did not get a single one. Then we addressed budget; UTEP will attempt to raise $4,000 to bring us back in the spring to continue working with the students there. Talked about South Coast Repertory, a prestigious gig in California and should be hearing soon from this group. If we get it, it will be a wonderful opportunity to share our work.
Afterward, we went to the theater to get ready for the show. We had a full house with folks being turned away. Some folks would not leave and I snuck them onto the stage. Later they were invited to sit on the side to see the video. During the performance, a female student asked me if she could ask me questions. I said no and she said why. And I said, “because I am performing.” Wow, cannot imagine what was going through her head.
Show over. We are a success! The look in Andrea’s eyes said everything. She was beaming and said, “I love it!” Many came backstage to congratulate us. We all felt great about the effort, especially in light of the fact we only had one full rehearsal.
We learned a lot from this experience and have lots to reflect on. LDTP is in a position to contribute to the national dialogue concerning interdisciplinary art making. The work we do is high caliber and it is truly unique. We shatter the mold of what Nick (dancer in Andreas’ dance department) referred to as high entertainment. He said there was a scholarly tone to it, meaning that a lot of thought went into it. We have to find a way to continue this work we do and to connect to the young art maker who is in the process of evolving their aessthetic. Also, I need to connect to NDEO and find a way to get us a performance opportunity.
Yes, this needs to happen. AMEN!
Interdisciplinary Training involves a different approach towards the creative process
All can move, all can speak, all can listen, all can reflect, all can embody design and all can put it down on paper. Reflection.
Be open to all possibilities! Be receptive to the ideas of others.
Listen with your whole being. Try not to listen to the sound of your thoughts while listening to others. This skill comes in handy when interacting or bouncing off others during creative work and performance. Magical moments can be missed if you are only in your head.
Ponder over ideas before addressing them. Do not believe everything you think. Work to avoid driving only your agenda forward. Remember it is about the project.
Enjoy working as a follower and as a leader.
Be prepared to be able to communicate your reasons as to why your idea works.
Seek connections amongst the arts and find ways to express the same thing using different disciplines. Make room for other ways to express besides just movement even though there is motion in everything. For example, how could the concept of a wave be conveyed using voice, movement, character, visually through shape design, texture, with a partner? Scenario: a beautiful wave has decided to leave its home to come and live with you. What scenarios might surface on the basis of this idea? What is your relationship with the wave? What do you have to do in order to accommodate the wave? How is life disrupted because you have a wave in your living room?
How can you enhance or build off of someone else’s efforts or ideas to create a rich, descriptive moment?
Notice the skills of others and when possible, encourage them to contribute those skills when you think they might effectively contribute to the process. Sometimes you can see something in others they cannot see in themselves.
Think like a Holon, that is to say, work to be a complete whole within yourself but also be aware you are a part of an interactive network of parts that come together to create a larger whole.
Be patient with the idea of collective leadership. Two steps forward, one step back. Remember that community takes time.
DEVELOPING THE WORK
Embody your ideas. Avoid stasis. Explore levels, spatial organization and dynamics. Be aware of the group composition and dynamic at all times. This requires you to think on many levels.
When is an idea a good idea? A good idea has lots of possibilities and it is open to many different interpretations. A good idea allows parallels to other great ideas possible. Usually a good idea relates to what is going on now because folks can relate to it.
Collaborative. Interdisciplinary work does not have a kind of look or style. It can be truly varied. It can emerge in many forms.
That is it for now!
Long shall we live the interdisciplinary process!
Submitted by Juanita Suarez
Latina Dance Theater Project