April 16, 2018
Do it how you think it was, says Choreographer Tracey Norman to Sarah Dowhun-Tompa. They are going back to a solo that was last embodied in December.
Im pretty sure I did it twice, says Dowhun-Tompa.
That felt like the right amount of time, says Denise Solleza.
This is a typical conversation during the third creation phase of How to tear down a wall. Norman and the dancers of Half Second Echo havent been together since December and are remembering the work from then. Its now March and Im observing the second rehearsal of this phase. What I saw in December, a lot of guts, as Norman describes it, is now neatly packaged into a thirty-nine minute piece-in-progress.
Its like dreaming, Norman says about coming back after a break, remembering the gist then seeing something - Oh right! - that sparks the memory. Before this phase, the dancers watched video footage from rehearsal on their own, useful for remembering the shape of the piece, followed by a walk-through to remember details.
What are the easiest moments to remember? I ask the dancers.
Duets and trios, says Nikolaos Markakis.
Strong moments of connection, says Justine Comfort. There is a common theme of poignant moments of interaction, which is not surprising based on the nature of memory and Normans choreography.
Memory is a three-step process: encoding, consolidating and retrieving. The brain registers the memory, stitches it together and then finally (well, in a matter of seconds), we remember. Everytime the brain remembers, the formed neural pathway is strengthened. Since group work is typically rehearsed more often, stronger neural pathways are formed.
I also believe the dancers easily remember duets and trios because humans need interaction. When dancing with someone else, they put such care into the process. The interaction is precious. This comforts me in a world where human interaction is dwindling.
Normans choreography is steeped in human interaction. Her group work includes a lot of physical contact - dancers twist and hurl each other. When a solo is performed, the other dancers are essential witnesses. They are constantly influencing each other.
Since December, the process has gone from making the guts to packing the guts together. As a choreographer, Normans curiosity lies in meaning. I really am drawn to imagery and metaphor over narrative, she explains, while the dancers focus on specific details. They may do a different arm and I will want to keep it, she says, but I dont even remember what it was before. Normans choices are driven by authentic interactions and authentic reactions.