Known Once: The working process – always surprising.

known once blog4_22_17
Pictured: LFD dancer Sarah Dionne Woods-LaDue, Charles Carey, Walter Kanat

We had the final workshop at The Redwoods on Thursday. I asked them to talk about their parents; I thought it would be interesting to hear people in the 90’s reflect on their parents. It was that and much more. Walter described unlacing and taking off his father’s shoes when he came home from work; how he felt it was an honor to do that. There was so much caring and thoughtfulness in all their voices.  Here is one of the many very moving things they talked about—Letty told us that her husband had to help her get out of bed because she had had a stroke. Once he had taken her hands and pulled her up, he put his arms around her and slowly danced and sang the Tennessee Waltz.

Here’s Patsy Cline’s version of this iconic song:

In rehearsal now, we are grappling with how to use the final story in the piece, told by Walter, one of the seniors. His story begins descriptively and energetically, then reaches into my heart. His voice has energy, warmth and cadence. It is a wonderful problem to work on—how to convey his appreciation and joy, frustration and sadness in movement that is only slightly representational but also not overwhelmingly dancey.

There is a lot of gorgeous dancing in Known Once—thanks to the remarkable dancers. And we are nearly finished, with lots of detail-oriented work to do in the final weeks. Now I am thinking about how to make clear, when there is no spoken voice in the score, that the stories and movement we gathered in the fall underlie and inform the choreography. This is partly in the score. Dan Wool has brought in his first version of the first part of the score, and we realized it needed more of a sense of time and more voices to establish the human elements anchoring the piece.

I really like the back and forth of different points of view that happens all the time with a group of opinionated and assertive individuals in a rehearsal. Sometimes what I thought would work does not work at all; and I am not clear about the path I think the piece should take. With this last story, we are at that indeterminate place.

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Author: lissfaindance

Liss Fain’s work ranges from pure dance pieces to collaborations with composers, lighting and set designers, videographers, actors and technologists. The company presents performance installations that bring the audience inside the set and close to the performers, proscenium performances, artistic exchanges with companies from abroad and free public outreach performance events. Liss Fain’s work expresses the unpredictable course of events that comprise one’s life and peoples’ responses to unforeseen situations. Non-narrative, highly physical and emotionally powerful, her work fuses modern dance’s forceful energy with the kinetic precision of ballet.The company has performed and taught at festivals and venues in Poland, Germany, Belarus, Russia and the UK as well as colleges, universities, festivals and presenting organizations in the US. Their home seasons in San Francisco are presented at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Z Space.

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