We do not create dance in a vacuum, a reflection on open rehearsals

By Sara Nye, Dancer

“It can be to easy to overlook the incredible investment of ideas, time, attention,
creativity, and revision that goes into creating something new, especially when
we’re watching a performance as an audience member. With RealLivePeople(in)
Motion’s current work-in-progress, not only did a number of us have the opportunity
to contribute our stories to the foundation of this work, but Gina invited us to come
to a rehearsal—to observe and participate. I loved the way Gina and the dancers
included us in movement, exploration, and feedback. Watching the dancers
communicate the daily work lives that we had communicated through our spoken
and written words with their bodies provided a glimpse into the unfolding evolution
of a work in progress. Participating in RLPiM’s rehearsal has also made me more
conscious of how we use our whole selves in our work—bodies as well as minds.”

-Beth, Interviewee

Beth and Alya have jobs. They have jobs that are different from ours. They have
jobs that are different from each other’s. Beth works in career services at Penn. Alya
is a freelance photographer/stylist. Our director Gina interviewed Beth and Alya
about their jobs for our upcoming project, and then they came to one of our open
rehearsals. And from this separateness came harmony.

It was so energizing for me to read Beth’s response to being in an open rehearsal of
ours, because it confirmed something I’ve been pondering – when I share something
of myself with you, it affects you. You think about it after the fact. It does not exist in
a vacuum.

I have always been fascinated by the work that people do. I am obsessed with how
people make money, how they make it work, and what those choices do to their daily
lives. But I also want to know if other people ever wonder what I do and how I do
it. I think many of us wonder whether what we do matters. Now I have confirmation
from Beth that when she came to our place of work, participated, and observed,
she left with neurons firing. She wondered about our work afterwards. She thought
about the time it takes to explore a movement idea, change the rules, and try again.
And I love that she is now thinking about how her body works while at work. It’s true
– no matter what a job is, it requires movement of the entire being, body and mind
working in tandem.

Beth and Alya were such giving participants in rehearsal. Their movement
contributions as well as their feedback were honest, and I felt them becoming
invested in the progress we were making that day. And they should feel invested. In
this project, we dancers and our ideas do not exist in a vacuum. We have reached
out into the community, and now the community is reaching back.