I'm embarking on my most solistic project with Pro Coro, thus far, singing in a female quartet to perform David Lang's Love Fail. Of course, I was terrified with an undercurrent of excitement as soon as I received the confirmation from Michael that I was in. I have been placating my internal crazy performer voice these past few week so I thought I would break down how I've been tackling the stages of prepping the work.
January 19-March 22 2016
The first thing I did was download the Love Fail album off of iTunes that evening after getting my conductor, Michael's, e-mail. I began looking through online Issuu previews of the score since I did not have a hard copy yet. Michael told me to take a look at the part-word repetitions in the Alto II line for the he was and she was movement as well note my lowest note in the piece, a G3, in the wood and the vine.
I began my regular process of learning music: listening the album for the overall texture and sound of the piece, then rehearsing my individual lines to make sure I learn my notes, tricky intervals, word order etc. I marked in my breath marks, noted word stress, tempo markings (rehearsing with a metronome), and for the parts where I am supposed to play percussion I made sure to always hold a pen of some sort and tap my music stand so I could build some motor memory to hit something on the downbeat while singing. I also tried to look at the poetic text to see at what aspect of love in a relationship we were discussing in each of the movements, whether it's the disconnect between the head and the heart in guiding relationship decisions or how, "at night, he was a different man." I tried to prepare as much I could but to keep it flexible so that I would be able to make adjust in music and staging rehearsals
March 27- April 4 2016
By far, the most nerve-wracking moment was the first music rehearsal with the other singers. It was just my three fellow singers and Michael a meter away from us. There was no hiding. My heart raced for the first 1.5 hours of the 3 hour rehearsal. I had to suppress the urge follow the arrhythmic beating pattern that didn't fit the tempo of the slower movements we were rehearsing. I came in holding all these skills I had practiced at home, but upon entering rehearsal and seeing the tempo marking that was actually being set by Michael, I would have an internal moment of panic, causing me to drop all of my not-yet-solidified skills. So much of this process has been calming the crazy. I kept hearing this internal crazy "AAAAAAaaaaah!!!!!!" as I frantically took down notes and tried to tap through pages on my iPad to catch up to our next rehearsal point. At the end of each rehearsal, I would go home and work on fixing notes, rhythm, etc. Michael mentioned in rehearsal so that I could enter the next rehearsal with a renewed sense of confidence. However, each rehearsal had a healthy dose of challenge so they were new things to work on. In the first rehearsal, Michael conducted everything. In the second, he began fading his conducting so we had to get used to rehearsing movements unconducted and he would step in if we were completely off. On the third rehearsal, we tried moving and standing in different orientations in four corners of the room to get used to a different spatial arrangements before we met with the dancers. This was challenging since it was mostly unconducted by this point and I had to activate my visual cortex to lip read and align my text and, hopefully, my tempo with my fellow singers. I also had to readjust my ears to search for voices for chord tuning and alignment purposes. With each of my supportive cues fading, I found it was more a matter of turning the volume of my crazy internal voice to low because it was impossible to mute it entirely. In this way, it allowed enough focus and stay present in the rehearsal and accept feedback. Thank goodness for desensitization.
April 6-14, 2016
Good Women Dance Collective. By far, they are one of the most visible dance companies for me in the city. It may be due to my particular 25-34 demographic and the events I go to whether it's Start-Up Edmonton Open Houses at the Mercer, the Fringe Festival, or social media - whatever it is, it's working. I love their collective and collaborative approach that creates accessible contemporary choreography while also focusing on sharing knowledge with the Edmonton dance community through workshops, or going abroad for professional development and bringing this training back to benefit the Arts community of Edmonton.
Our first rehearsal together began with talking through a roadmap of where GWC choreographer, Alida, envisioned where we would be in each particular movement and providing details on what would be going on around us. We would run a few movements and get notes afterward on overall tempo, where we needed to move faster or slower, where we needed to give more space to dancers crawling on the floor between us. Taking a tip from Opera staging, I've rehearsed in my barefeet so I am used to that sensory feedback from the floor. It's also pretty handy because, if I extend my foot out to start walking, and I feel flesh there, I refrain from moving so I don't step on a dancer. You know, professional courtesies. In addition to adjusting for challenges like being unconducted, getting pitches, setting tempos, movement transitions between the pieces - one of the most amazing things is just to feel the energy of the dancers. Even if I can't watch what they're doing with much detail, due to the fact that I'm using my score, I can sense the potential energy in their bodies. It's more than just that feeling where somebody comes up from behind you and you move out of the way, the energy of their proximity envelopes you as they physically weave themselves in the acoustic waveform of our sound.
We have another set of rehearsals in Studio 96 this coming week and then opening night is this Friday. There are four performances from Apr 15-17, 2016.
Apr 15 at 7:30 PM
Apt 16 at 2:30 PM
Apr 16 at 7:30 PM
Apr 17 at 2:30 PM
It will be a treat to finally share what we have been working on with audiences.
|All photos by Michael Zaugg, courtesy of Pro Coro Canada|