|(Isadora in her iconic pose)|
Sunday, September 27, 2015
BECOMING ISADORA: THE ELEMENTS
As I slid into the outdoor pool with my Isadora silk tunic on, and said the line, “This coming to Russia has been tremendous,” an audible gasp arose from the audience. We were dancing on an outdoor deck with a pool, we had circled the pool, I had dangled my toes in the pool; I don’t think they thought I was going to submerge myself in the pool.
Let’s backtrack. I was rehearsing the show “Revolutionary,” a dance/play about Isadora Duncan’s life, in the home studio of Nacre Dance Company’s director Beth Fecteau. We warmed up in the inside studio and then decided to dance on her rooftop garden. It was immediately addicting; the atmosphere of the columns, plants and pool coupled with the sunshine and the breeze rustling our silks. Within minutes, we proclaimed that a performance must occur in this space.
At this point it was July and Beth said, she would see what she could do. In early August she contacts us to inquire if we are available for a rooftop performance on Wednesday night August 26th. YEAH! I mean I think I was going on vacation that week, but somehow YEAH! I could make it happen.
I rearranged my schedule for several reasons. I wanted as many opportunities to perform my role of Isadora Duncan in any setting before the public show September 27th. And - I found it irresistible to perform in the space. Isadora was all about the Greeks and nature and this space had both - it was outdoors, and had a Greek sensibility.
The other bonus was that we were going to incorporate the pool. Beth found three opportunities for us to worship one of the five Greek elements. Of course the stage rule is, “You must always use a prop more than once.” Although the pool was only 13 feet by 7 feet, it was a large prop that could not be ignored.
We were performing for a small dinner party associated with UPH that was being held at Beth’s home. Our audience would be small but mighty and this would afford us plenty of room to move about.
We were doing a truncated version of the show. Normally, the show ran an hour and 15 minutes and this version would be about 20 minutes. This was good news and bad news for me. I had memorized most of my 8 pages of monologue, but not all, so the shortened version was good, but now I had to memorize this 20 minute show edited and in a different order. That was the bad news. Memorization can be tied to a particular piece of blocking, movement or gesture and this rooftop blocking was pretty much unrelated to any blocking we had worked out onstage.
After all, on the ultimate stage that I would perform on, I had a chaise lounge as home base and clear sailing as I moved about the stage. My rooftop blocking included walking up the stairs as my entrance, wandering along a balance beam wide beam at the end of the pool, skirting plants and the fire pit, resting on a bench, swinging my legs in the pool and ultimately lowering myself into it.
After I lowered myself into the pool and spun around on the line, “For the first time I feel that I can stretch my arms and breath,” I catch a glimpse of the stunned faces of the audience. Excellent, the kind of reaction you always want. Keep them guessing.
After my immersion, Lauren performs “Revolutionary,” a strong comment on the political atmosphere in Russia. There is a quiet couple of bars in the piece, which I take to be a dance break, and I more or less back stroke over to the south end of the pool to fill the music. At its conclusion, I make a few comments on how water has greatly impacted my work and then the dancers commence the poetic “Water Study.”
I was not left alone in the pool for long. As space is limited on the dry area of the rooftop, Julia is assigned the pool. She gracefully and gradually makes her way into the pool and then to everyone’s surprise does a surface dive into the depths. I suppress a giggle, but continue to do my Isadora leg stylings and solar plexus inspired arm movements awaiting Julia to reemerge from the pool. She does and I think got more than she bargained for. A swath of hair is plastered across her eyes and she starts to cough a bit. Julia covers it well and continues her dance. I admire her commitment and carry on. as best I can because out of the corner of my left eye I spot Beth doing unscheduled leaps along the pool. A grand finale. To my right, Theresa, Erin and Lauren are carrying on heroically.
“Water Study” draws to a close with one more surprise. Lauren jumps into the pool with an auspicious splash. Please recall the pool’s size, so things are quite close. Whether on dry land or in the water, we have been told to hit the iconic Isadora pose as our bow. We do with Lauren emerging from her jump with her arms poised. Julia is still underwater but joins us momentarily.
All pool dancers exit the pool with our silk tunics immediately plastered to us and see through - fun!. I know for a fact our audience has enjoyed many libations and I can only imagine what they think they were witnessing. Actually great art. The Duncan work was perfect in the setting and experiencing all the elements of earth, air, fire, water and the Greek’s beloved fifth element of ether.
Diane Lachtrupp Martinez