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Sara Yanney-Chantanasombut’s Indy Convergence Blog – Day 4: I was a swan and I have a neck with 25 vertebrea

By Ian Garrett on May 28, 2013

I almost feel as though there should be a separate blog entry for each individual workshop and rehearsal because there are so many wonderful things happening.  Today was a very dancetastic day, with a movement class from Ashley and movement Improvisation with Tommy.  Thank you Tommy for reminding me in the creative process there is only good and even better.  The Indy Convergence dancers (and Josh, who I am pretty sure is really a dancer because he is such an interesting mover) got to play more and set our movement as the “Blobs” for the Umbrella Project.

The last rehearsal of the day for me was with Tommy for his side project, exploring a different take on Swan Lake.  We have a mixed group for Tommy’s project; Ashley and I are the only dancers, then Robert, Lee and Kendra (although Kendra has a beautiful understanding of her body due to her work in Butoh).  Tommy was explaining both the classical ballet version of the Swan Lake story, as well as the take he would be exploring.  One hilarious thing to me was that the “non-dancers” in the group had a lot of questions about the story line, whereas I, as a dancer who grew up with this ballet, had no questions.  While I recognize the story as a bit absurd (as I do all Romantic and Classical Ballets), I realized that I just automatically never thought about really questioning it, I only accepted it because it was a Classical Ballet that has survived for so long…so it must make sense.

Tommy gave us each some tasks to work on after talked in depth about the metaphor and meaning behind the story as well as Tommy wanting to take away the “magic” of the original story to make it more relatable.  My task was to create some movement for the swan.  So I start racking my brain.  I don’t want to go with the obvious choices that have been made in the past; small fluid ripples of the arm from the back to simulate wings or Matt Eks motifs from his more contemporary adaptation of the original.  All are beautiful and amazing, but we want to explore a different approach.

So I thought about what sticks out for me the most in a swan and immediately thought of their long, graceful necks.  Realizing we of course have much shorter necks, my immediate solution was to move as though my entire spine was one long neck.  I looked it up and swans have 22-25 vertebrae in their neck (depending on the species of swan).  The human neck has 7 and the entire spine has 24 articulating vertebrae, and 9 fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx.

I am going to be continuing to explore this in the next two rehearsals.  you’ll have to come to the show to see how it goes.  In the meantime, here is my favorite swans, the one and only Anna Pavlova performing the Dying Swan (not to be confused with Swan Lake).

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