I am on the Metro North train going to Poughkeepsie for a Tech rehearsal for Lareigne at Vassar College, It’s been about a month and a half since I finished teaching the piece to the dancers and as I am riding the train I wonder how well the dancers maintained the piece and how much work we will have to do in order to have it ready to perform next week.
It is nice to see all the dancers at the theater in their costumes looking excited and somewhat nervous. We have a short time and two casts. The students at Vassar are only doing a six minute excerpt form the piece. A section from the middle that involves the whole group. They look great on the stage with the lighting – though some spacing is off as well as some timing issues.
Lareigne is a piece that is about the group and the connection between the dancers is crucial to the success of the piece, like in a domino affect. If one dancer will be just two feet to the right from where he/she is supposed to be it will affect and change the whole spacing of the group as dancers keep replacing each other in space. The same applies to the timing.
We go to the studio where I first met them in early September, remembering our first meeting in the audition when I was casting the piece, looking for dancers who not only have high technical skills but who are also willing to take risks and let themselves push their boundaries forward. I am very happy with the casting and seeing how they all took time to grow into the Petronio vocabulary.
Learning a Stephen Petronio piece is not just about steps, it is just as important to know the intention behind each movement and its connection to the other dancers and the space. This process takes time and dancers need to be patient with themselves to absorb it all.
I enjoy seeing this process and how over the course of five Sundays the dancers have completely opened up and taken Petronio work into their bodies, slowly becoming more comfortable and fearless.
It is hard work and the piece is exhausitng, but just as much satisfying. I can’t count anymore how many times I have taught this piece around the world. Every time I get chills when I see the piece coming to life again – it is so charged with energy and excitement and I see how the dancers at Vassar catch this excitement. I tell them it is one of my favorite Petronio pieces to have performed and be part of its creation, I see how they are thrilled to be part of it as well and I know this is going to be great.
We finish some correction in the studio and I am about to say goodbye and head back to the train. “Don’t forget to look at each other when you are dancing and enjoy each others company on stage, it’s all about that and the joy of being together,” I tell the dancers.
Lareigne is a brilliant piece. Every time I teach it, people who watch the process tell me how amazing the piece is. It is one of those dance works that is timeless. Back on the train I think about the extended life this piece had and how many generations of dancers and studetns have gotten to perform it. Most of the students at Vassar were probably babies when the piece was made and yet they are the ones now taking it to the stage and giving it a new life.
Dance indeed is timeless and I am thrilled to be passing on the beauty of Lareigne. Thanks Vassar for this opportunity and BREAK A LEG for a wonderful show!
Here are some responses to the experience and process from Vassar students:
Ori’s process is quite rigorous. His extraordinarily detailed understanding of the workings and sense of Lareigne presented an exciting challenge. In each rehearsal I felt pushed to deeply inhabit the movement vocabulary, both individually and as one cog in the larger creation.
The process of learning and rehearsing Lareigne strengthened our group bond dramatically because each dancer’s movement phrases were causally related to those of the other dancers. Ori always stressed the context of the movement within the web of interactions forming the piece. When we really got into it, I always felt like I was engaged in a heated conversation full of exclamations and interruptions. it was a blast 🙂
Lareigne is a technically and mentally demanding piece, but ultimately, that only made the process more fulfilling.
Working on Lareigne was an absolutely fantastic experience. Being from Jamaica and not having opportunities to work with distinguished choreographers on renound pieces was a tremendous blessing and I am so thankful to Ori and the Vassar dance community for this wonderful experience. Thanks again Ori!
-Kerri- Anne Bell
Learning Lareigne was unlike any dance experience I have encountered. Because each part has its own track and choreography throughout the entire piece, each of us had to be secure and totally dependable as we brought our own unique solid piece to the puzzle. The combination of the trippy, dissonant music, the costumes, the lighting, and most importantly the moments of extreme organized movement, contrasted with moments of great stillness and gave a very haunting, eery feel to the piece. It was such a thrill to learn and perform.