Monday, March 28, 2011
Message from Sarah Levitt of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange
Hello, ASU Gammage, from snowy Montclair, NJ! We’re here on a 10-day residency to get “The Matter of Origins” back on its feet after premiering the piece in September at the University of Maryland. We spent time in intensive rehearsal periods for three years leading up to the premiere, did two performances, and then walked away from the piece until January, when we went back to rehearsal and began refining and changing the piece to prepare for our spring performances.
As a dancer in the work who has been part of the creative process since rehearsals began in 2008, stepping away from “Origins” for the past few months has been extremely fruitful. It always surprises me: there are times when rehearsing is as useful as not rehearsing. The quiet discoveries that go on in our minds and bodies in a period away from a piece suddenly emerge in rehearsal, loudly. Movement phrases that were challenging in September are second-nature now and movement that could be accomplished with ease last fall now seems uncomfortable and complex and requires a different energy, intention, and physicality.
The idea of measurement and how we measure plays a large part in “Origins,” and it comes up a lot during our individual negotiation with movement in rehearsals. There is measurement on a gross physical scale (“Is my leg here or here?”), measurement of energy level (“I am going to mark the lifts”), measurement of nuance (“Watch the outside edge of Keith’s hand”), measurement of the personal (“I miss my family”), measurement of the other dancers (“That duet is getting better and better”), measurement of individual improvement (“The ‘Fanfare’ section feels much easier now”), measurement of physical state (“I will not make it through tomorrow without a hot bath tonight"). Of course the technique, training and effort are present in a performance, but so are the vagaries of the human body in motion under stress.
And this is the fun part, for me. Getting to come back to a piece that feels at once familiar and mysterious, discover details I didn’t see in September, and navigate the moments that have changed because all of us have changed since we started making this piece.
All of us in the cast and production team are looking forward to bringing “The Matter of Origins” to ASU Gammage on April 11, 2011. See you soon!
- Sarah Levitt (Liz Lerman Dance Exchange)
For more information on “The Matter of Origins”, please visit www.danceexchange.org.
Sarah Levitt is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher based in the Washington, DC area. She received her BA in Dance from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2007, where she held a Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship in Dance and was awarded the Dorothy Madden Emerging Artist Award upon graduation. Sarah has danced in the work of Robert Battle, Liz Lerman, Gesel Mason, Cassie Meador, Tzveta Kassabova, PearsonWidrig DanceTheater, and Keith Thompson. Sarah began working with the Dance Exchange in 2007, and became a full-time company member in 2010. She has performed and taught with the company at theatres, universities, senior centers and in community settings across the US and abroad. Sarah’s work has been presented by Dance Place, McDonogh School, and Artomatic, and she is the recipient of Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council in Choreography (2009) and Solo Performance (2010).