What the Late Bird Gets

When I talk about the Dance major at Luther, people are always interested in the fact that we train the body through somatic practices rather than training specific styles of dance. The Movement Fundamentals curriculum has made me feel so much more comfortable and confident in my body, teaching me more things than I can put into words. A big portion of the Dance major involves creating and sharing work - it's not unusual to be given the task to come up with a score (essentially, rules for movement) or a repeatable phrase to share - I even took a class last semester that focused specifically on dance composition. Because of the emphasis on creation, it's not surprising to me the variety of work that Luther dance majors were able to produce for their senior projects this past weekend.

One of my best friends devised a one-man theatre/dance piece about his coming out story. His piece was so personal, so vulnerable, and so honest - it was an amazing show of talent and bravery, deducing most of the audience (and performers backstage) to tears and ending in a roar of applause and an epic standing ovation. In all honesty, it was hard for me to watch; it evoked a lot of uncomfortable, powerful feelings. It was true artistry. Another senior presented on the stunning costumes she created for Body of Water, another performed a choreographed lyrical piece, others directed written work, or created costumes, or so many other things. The talent and range of the artistry was breathtaking.

The piece I was involved in was titled What the Late Bird Gets. My beautiful friend Jenn conceived and choreographed the piece. She wrote:

 “What the Late Bird Gets" is a dance work for the chronically late and those who wait for them. It examines the ways that we enter and exit communities, relationships, and our individual trajectories, getting redirected along the way. It attempts to make peace with the speed of life by letting time have what it requires. 

Her 42 minute piece was extremely athletic and risky. We hurled shoes into the air and tried to catch them on our arms. We lifted and tossed each other. I wrestled, ran, competed, and flipped. It was also funny, involving humorous movement vocabulary, funny noises, dress up costumes, and Jenn constantly being late for different sections of the piece (at one point, someone from off stage yelled, "Jenn, you're over here!" and then Jenn sprinted across the stage to make her mark for the next piece). Beyond that, Late Bird is caring and endearing - there was singing, teamwork, and putting on each other's shoes. It is a story of coming of age; of finding independence through collaborative process; of testing the limits of our "wings" to find what we are capable of.

I register for classes this week, and my senior project is something that I will soon need to begin thinking about. I only hope to trust my process in the way that Jenn so beautifully modeled for us - hopefully if I'm capable of that, I can produce something even a fraction as good.

Choreography by Jennifer Schmidt. Photography by Blake Nellis.
Choreography by Jennifer Schmidt. Photography by Blake Nellis.
Choreography by Jennifer Schmidt. Photography by Blake Nellis.
Choreography by Jennifer Schmidt. Photography by Blake Nellis.

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