Journal Entry #4 – October 7, 2010

October 7, 2010 - Leave a Response

Fall started for us in the middle of August when we went back to rehearsal for The Partner Project/Scene in Public (PPSIP) which will premiere at The Danspace Project Dec 9-11. We had the good fortune to start off with a two week rehearsal residency at the big, beautiful Music Theatre Group studio in Dumbo. It was a joy to have that large light space to work in and we’re grateful to Diane Wondisford and One Arm Red folks for making it possible.

PPSIP deals with the nature of partnerships – we enter into them in many ways throughout our lives – friends, lovers, spouses, adversaries, teacher/student, parent/child. We each shape the partnership and are shaped by it. How? We often, especially in big cities, encounter intimate moments between two people. How is their duet affected by us, the “audience”, and how are we affected by them, the “performers”. I’m sure I’m not alone in often feeling inspired, angry, scared, confused by a momentary glimpse into a relationship that I encounter by chance. There is a lot we try to screen out of our experience but mostly I think it doesn’t work. Maybe that’s because I don’t have an ipod.

We’ll spend a few of our rehearsal days shooting video footage outdoors. Video artist Barbara Bickart who created the video score for Whole Sky in 2004 is going to create a very different kind of video score for this piece. We’re taking some of the movement material in to public venues and videotaping not just the dancers but the watchers and the avoiders. It’s so interesting to see what people do to avoid something unfamiliar and to see the different ways in which people watch something they find both unsettling and fascinating. We’ll use this footage in the live performance.

We recently had the opportunity to show this piece in progress at The Music Theatre Group space as part of the Dumbo Arts Festival. We got great feedback which is helpful in moving the piece forward. On Oct 10 we’ll show excerpts of it in Rosendale, NY at the funky, charming Rosendale Theater which is presenting its first Dance Film Festival. Our performance there will be preceded by a screening of Rites of Passing from 1981. It is a sobering blast from the past. The original performance was commissioned by Creative Time as part of Art on the Beach. The dance takes place on the sandy landfill that eventually became Battery Park City and the World Financial Center. But in 1981 it was just sand. All that was there was the Twin Towers which are prominent in the film.

Upcoming projects include collaborating with young people in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to create a dance for dancers and skateboards. We’re also in the planning stages of One Town One Dance which will involve, we hope, all of Marbletown, NY in Ulster County. More to come.

Journal Entry #3 – September 22nd, 2009

September 22, 2009 - Leave a Response

Comments heard while rehearsing excerpts of the Partner Project at three sites on Water Street in lower Manhattan:

“What is that?”

“Wow, it’s like watching a movie”

“Why is he making you leave? This is nice. This is great” at witnessing a security guard ask us to leave the front of One State Street Plaza,

“I know what that is”

“This is great. Thank you for teaching me something new today”

Woman passing by with eyes rolling, “Ya gotta love New York.”

Man passing by who stopped to watch and take pictures, “They are very talented. I don’t know what that was but it was lovely to watch”. RJ, “what did you see?” Man, “I saw the love and antagonism in relationships.” RJ, “would you like to be on our mailing list?” Man, “Oh yes.”

Hope you can come see for yourself on Sept 25th/26th, at sites along Water Street and in our rehearsal space at 14 Wall Street. See our website for times and locations,


Journal Entry #2 – September 17th, 2009

September 17, 2009 - Leave a Response

We’ve taken the duets outside.  I love seeing them on park benches, in big open plazas surrounded by tall buildings, on a wall with parked tour buses as a backdrop, in front of a waterfall in a city park.   The duets read differently depending on where they are.  Outside, in the midst of “normal” life, they look to me like subtext – how we’re really feeling while doing what we have to do.

New Yorkers are so purposeful and have an astonishing ability to either walk past anything that’s not useful at the moment or look at it while doing something else, usually being in conversation with another person or on the phone.  There’s a kind of head turning dance done by people walking by.  Look at the picture below taken in front of One State Street Plaza, across from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.  We’ve had to abandon that site because of being hassled by security guards in the building.  We’ve moved it one block north.  We’re showing the Partner Project material on Sept 25th and 26th at three sites on Water Street in lower Manhattan and inside at our rehearsal space at 14 Wall Street.  I am looking forward to getting feedback from both our accidental audience – those who happen to encounter it outside – and those who come to see it.  

Partner Project Downtown

We’ve just started working on a section in which I want to get at the experience of longing for comfort while you are doing something that you have an obligation to do – a rescue fantasy while enduring boredom or stress. 

At the end of August we had four wonderful long days to work on the Partner Project in Stone Ridge, NY at the Performing Arts Center of the High Meadow School.  It’s a big beautiful space.  It was fantastic to have full days to work in a perfect environment.  Now we’re back at the vault at 14 Wall Street.  I’m so grateful to have a space grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council that gives us time to use this great space at no cost.  I hope you can join us on the 25th or 26th on Water Street, in the vault or both to see the beginnings of The Partner Project and share your thoughts about it with us. 


Journal Entry #1 – June 15th, 2009

June 15, 2009 - One Response

Though I’ve done some preliminary work on this project over the last few months, I am starting this blog with the beginning of our rehearsal period at 14 Wall Street, which we affectionately refer to as The Vault. I am grateful to have four months of free rehearsal space there through a Swing Space grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The space really is a former bank vault. It’s underground and still has big, fierce-looking steel doors. The LMCC has put dance floors in one section of each level. There are no distractions there. Cell phones don’t work. There are no windows to look out. Our rehearsals have been very focused and productive.

The Partner Project evolved out of a few different interests. One is my ongoing fascination with the duet. Every interaction between two people can be seen as a duet. When we observe two people interacting in a public space, whether it’s an argument, a kiss, or a task like figuring out a map, we are affected by it and the duet is affected by the environment in which it is taking place. What does it feel like to be in the duet or an observer of the duet? Check out the duets that are all around you, and notice the ones that your in with family, friends, colleagues, strangers.

Another reason for this project is financial. It allows me to work with only two dancers at a time – yes financial concerns shape artistic decisions. Some of the ideas we’ve investigated are: the fine line between protecting and smothering; the difference between “show me, ” “help me,” and “teach me.”

We are going to do a series of showing in public spaces this fall. We’ll post all the locations and times on our website. And we’ll invite you to participate in this blog and other online and in-person interactions as the project develops. Please join us in whatever way you can on this new journey. In Fall, 2010 the finished version will be presented.

The Partner Project

May 28, 2009 - Leave a Response

Look for Risa’s first journal entry on The Partner Project mid-June 2009. See you then!