Eric Garcia and the collaborative team of Sarah Woods-LaDue and Bob Woods-LaDue are the resident artists of SFCD’s 2017 Choreographic Residency. They have been working with the students of SFCD’s year-round program in weekly rehearsals since January. They recently shared some thoughts on their processes so far.
The works created by Eric, Sarah, and Bob will be shown on April 19, 20, and 21 in the April 2017 edition of Work Nights. Work Nights is a regular series of free, informal showings of work being developed at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. You can reserve seats in advance HERE.
I’ve given myself and the SFCD students somewhat of an impossible task. Inspired by recent theatrical roulette-escapades (Shotgun Players’ Hamlet directed by Mark Jackson and the San Francisco Neo Futurists’ Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind), I’ve decided to embark on my own chance-based performance adventure. Our goal is to create a suite of dances where both the roles of the performers and the order of sections are determined at random moments before the start.
The framework feels relevant to the concept we are digging into. We are steeped in (re)constructing dream cities and piecing together nostalgias of San Francisco. As such, we are experimenting with precarious choreographic structures and prompts that test our confidence in memory. For example, the 12 of us created a duet in the span of 1 hour, where the director and performers rotated every 5 minutes. Once the duet was crafted, everyone had to learn both parts knowing that during the final performance, two dancers would be selected at random to perform any given part.
The work parallels the infinite narratives that exist within a city, both told and untold. Each night of this performance — by virtue of in-the-moment decision making — reveals new arcs and through-lines. Part of the richness of this piece is the myriad of configurations and possibilities that will never come to be. One night may feature and highlight a particular character’s journey, while another night conjures a completely different experience and tone. Everything is a constellation of random events that are strung together. The meaning-making happens real time.
I’m excited to use this time as a director/choreographer to create a container for true risk-taking, both for myself and for the SFCD students. Comforts and mental capacities are certainly being stretched. This piece has the very real potential for failure: Never had a chance to rehearse the monologue that you have to now perform? Didn’t quite remember the movement in that highly-nuanced floor pattern? Not feeling super confident in belting a song about the Western frontier? We’ve clearly laid out the problem, now it’s time to figure out a solution. And considering there are nearly 40 million variations on the piece (both in the ordering of sections and the casting), we’ve got some work to do. Onward…
Sarah Woods-LaDue & Bob Woods-LaDue:
We are having a blast working with the students at SFCD. We’ve thrown some complex concepts and structures their way and their constant willingness to venture down the rabbit hole with us has been incredibly moving. We’ve experimented with using modular structures that are created in the moment by the actions and decisions of the dancers. Some of these structures require a strict rule-set to be established before relationships can be developed in the space. This process has taken more time than anticipated, but it feels like a fruitful venture and will hopefully be the frame for wherever we end up at the end of this residency. A main component of most everything we’ve been building together, includes an element of music. The dancers have been generating soundscapes as a byproduct of physicality, and more recently, looking at the inverse of that relationship. To say the least, we’re majorly excited.