24 Hour Choreofest!

by Shannon Sullivan 
Back in May, when Nicole Harris asked me to jump on board Luminarium's 24- hour ChoreoFest I was very excited.  My initial thought was that this was a fabulous opportunity to work with Nicole. I also love performance venues that provide opportunities to bring different dance forms together.  
As August 16th quickly approached, however, my enthusiasm was equally matched with trepidation.  One of the major factors that I left out when I made my decision to join this project was the fact that I do not pull all-nighters.  How in the world was I going to function well enough to choreograph into the wee hours of the morning and also tap the next day?  I would love to say that the creative process carried me into the wee hours with endless enthusiasm, but my short and more realistic response is that I accepted that I was going to be tired, I tried not to wallow in my tired state, but I was indeed exhausted by the end of our performances.
Photo by Ryan Carollo
Aside from fatigue, the second greatest challenge that I faced was creating a dance piece while our music was simultaneously being composed.  David Wechsler, the composer for our piece, was actually working from his studio in Chicago.  This made transmitting ideas and sharing in the creative process a bit more difficult than if we were all collaborating in the same space.  I had never worked in this manner before.  Typically, I use recorded music or if I am performing with live musicians, we are "working it out" and sharing ideas in the same environment.  As someone who is truly inspired by music and the energy of live musicians, this forced me to approach the creative process from a totally different angle.  I'm not sure that I liked creating in this way, but I can say that David did a brilliant job composing and in the end, I loved the union of both the music and dance.  
Lastly, though I have known Nicole for years and have always applauded her work, I have never had the opportunity to choreograph with her and it was a wonderful experience.Though we have walked in many of the same dance circles, we each have a very distinctly different style and "voice" in tap dancing.  It was a pleasure to learn from Nicole and to gain a glimpse of her choreographic process.  I hope to someday do this again in a more relaxed environment.

My final thoughts and what I'll take with me after watching Luminarium's 24-hour ChoreoFest performance was that we have many very talented dancers and choreographers in Boston.  I appreciated that we were all able to share the same stage in this adventure and I hope our paths will cross again. 

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