On Repeat Jan 19, 2013

by Jordan

This last week has been interesting. I'm interning here, for a college term. I'm studying dance at said college. This school year is my first.

Last year wasn't high school though, not for me- I graduated and then decided to work study at Velocity Dance Center. One weekend I decided to take a yoga class... by Douglas Ridings, I believe. I show up, nobody's there in the cold studio in the back, except for me, and the fog peeking in the window. Then, one other woman. She was tall, and strong, and sure. In that moment, she both intimidated me and inspired me. She was Catherine Cabeen. I suppose Douglas was sick or had a prior engagement, but I ended up taking that yoga class with Catherine, and although one or two people showed up eventually, it felt completely one on one. I had no idea where she came from or what her background was at the time. I saw her once or twice more while at Velocity, but then I left for school and didn't come back until now.

I got my schedule emailed to me a couple months ago, and there was Catherine. Again, I felt excited, but intimidated. 

This last week has been interesting. The week before I was helping set up for the show. Learning how to navigate my way around a stage. This week, I mostly watched rehearsals. Catherine and the dancers and the tech team (including video, and sound, and lights...) all collaborating and talking, and directing and shifting, on repeat. I felt it was helpful for me to watch them run it, over and over again, to gain more of an appreciation for the piece. I think it would be helpful for me to watch any dance over and over again, because a lot of the time I feel like most of the patterning and hidden meanings go right over my head the first time I watch it. So, I watched. I began getting such a sense of the piece that I could tell immediately if there was something new she had put in. There was also so much more intricacy in the piece that I only got from watching it multiple times. (Maybe that's just me. Maybe not.)

I'd find parts of the piece to anticipate eagerly, like the figure eight solo in the Devil act, which conveyed so much in the details. Or in The Emperor act, where Catherine stands in the center of four of the dancers, spiraling around her, repeating the same moves but in different orders. Certain patterns began emerging- I'd notice the types of choreographic tools I'm learning in school coming into play. Many dancers doing the same symbolic gesture at different times. Interchanging partners weaving there way throughout the stage, like a thread being constantly knit together. Three people doing the same moves, one still, one slow, one on repeat. 

I think the thing I enjoyed most the night I actually came to see the show, being performed in front of an audience that consisted of more than just the tech team and me, was seeing how even then it had shifted substantially since the last time I watched it, and how invested both Catherine and the dancers were in it. Rehearsals didn't always have the same spunk. This did. They were on Fire!

Catherine Cabeen still has that exciting and inspirational but simultaneously intimidating aspect to me. It came through even when she was on the stage, and I was seated in the middle of a crowd. I was awe-struck by the strength and control in her movement. Minutes later, she would seem so nonchalant and aloof it frightened me. But I could simultaneously be empathetic towards her. She would convey a sense of loneliness and fear and self-manipulation all too familiar. 

...And then there was those fleeting moments, (and these were the ones that I liked best, I think)... there were moments when she was welcoming and warm, and would invite the audience into the dark... with nothing but a flirtatious smile and a small hand gesture, beckoning us in.