The repertory work I am bringing to Elevate is PLUCK - a power-exploring dance work I originally created with my company dancers and composer in 2010-2011 when I was based in Chicago. The original work was largely flavored by some immediate responses to our recent tour to Central Asia merged with a creative process informed by Skype rehearsals and intensive weekend rehearsals in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio (where I was in graduate school). I chose to revive PLUCK because of my vivid memories of the physicality of the work and my ongoing interest in the issues of social and political hierarchies we explored. In our current political and social climate, I felt this work and themes were worth exploring and addressing again.
So now in 2019, I chose to approach the work as a re-making/re-imagining process. I gave myself permission to stray from the original video documentation to change phrase work, cut out sections, revise sections, and re-define, re-question, and re-discover the statements and ideas in the work. It is has been a very interesting/frustrating/fulfilling process the company has joined me in. Memories of the original version and collaborators bubble up and fade from week to week, and as I find myself approaching the piece with a more discerning and questioning eye, I also make clearer choices of what the piece truly is and is not. I can most compare this re-making to revising a term paper written 7 years ago, bringing to it new experiences, credibility, nuance, insight, and footnotes. The dancers have been amazing in this process, going all out and all in, giving themselves over to the extreme physicality and emotional intensity of the work.
Upon creating my section for Elevate, I knew I needed to create an uplifting movement sequence to end the piece. Basing my section on the process of empowerment, the transition between feeling smothered and feeling empowered, I wanted to form movement that appeared light, airy, and in the air. THIS, I discovered, is NOT how I naturally move. THIS is news to me!
I went into the studio and tried to think of movements that are uplifting, high, elevated...what I created looked heavy, rooted, stiff. What!?!? Is that how I always move in my pieces!? I am shocked.
Instead of going back into the studio to try to create a new phrase, I attempted to manipulate the original to have a different quality. I emphasized the suspension and pull through the body, I let go of my momentum to soar higher, I softened through the limbs. Whether it worked or not, you can be the judge!
I can firmly say collaborating in different ways definitely leads to discoveries about oneself. I believe that is why I love to involve others in productions so often.
-Shana Simmons, Shana Simmons Dance
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