by Karen Krolak
As we get more in depth with the goings on at Monkeyhouse I thought it would be helpful to explain a little Monkeyhouse vocabulary and provide some insight into our programs. Don't worry, there won't be a quiz!
MUSINGS - What is a Musing? Where did they come from? Who participates?
Musings are an ongoing series of workshops that provide a time, space, and dancers for choreographers to sketch out ideas. While some ideas may eventually get developed into a piece, this process is different from a rehearsal.
In 2008, I dreamed up some dance phrases but I wasn't sure if or how to expand them into a piece. So I rented Green Street Studios and invited a group of dancers to meet with me. I emphasized that this was a time to play. No one would be required to remember choreography from week to week and there was no performance to prepare. I was surprised that about 6 dancers agreed to attend the first three Musings. None of my movement phrases from those sessions ever coalesced into a piece but the research process lead her to create a trio named ingeniculation which premiered at First Night. Caitlin Meehan also credits a comment that Jason shared at one of those early Musings with sparking her solo,a,b,c,d, none of the above. In addition all the dancers talked about how much they enjoyed having time to play without pressure. We knew that this was a Monkeyhouse innovation that we needed to cultivate.
Monkeyhouse is the only company we know of that dedicates regular time to support this type of choreographic exploration. It has helped many of our younger dancers to gain the courage to try out their own choreographic ideas, and has become a useful way to discover whether new dancers or outside choreographers will be a good fit for our creative process. In recent years we have invited other dance companies to join our Musings which has promoted a spirit of collaboration within the Boston dance community, helped other dance artists to navigate creative obstacles, and energized our company.
Often the Musings start with a question, such as "What are some ways that you can fall a across the floor as if you were falling through a deep hole?" "How can you get someone to up from the floor without touching her?" or "What happens when you send pairs of people out into the downtown Medford area with one person blindfolded and the other as their leader/guardian?" (Yes, that happened.) As we are gathering ideas for the site-specific piece at Endicott, for example, we have investigated questions about how a group shapes an individual or an individual shapes a group during our open Musings with the Endicott Dance Ensemble.
Have you got an idea you'd like us to Muse on? Let us know!