The excitement of not knowing: Elise on RLP Presents

RealLivePeople 5-9-15-406Performing in RealLivePeople Presents was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed sharing the space with such talented and fierce artists. Just watching what the other performers brought to the table was thrilling. Each piece had a strong and clear approach, whether it was about the exhaustion of explaining your move to the city or taking the spotlight from someone. I was inspired by the way the artists took their ideas and put them into movement, like Molly and Marlee smothering each other while asking the typical questions about their big move to New York or Sara removing Gina from the space so she could perform bigger than her. I was so inspired, it made me want to start investigating my ideas and create a piece of my own.

And that was just my experience from watching the other pieces! Performing in a piece with RealLivePeople was a different type of  opportunity to investigate myself as a dancer. I performed in Gina’s listening piece 3 times, a piece where the audience is invited to write down their interpretation, which we then use as an influence for the second and third time we perform it. Performing in this piece was totally out of my performance comfort zone, but I loved it. The excitement of not knowing what the intention of the 2nd and 3rd repetition would be was so fun. I have never performed in a piece that involved the audience so directly. I learned how different perspectives can influence movement, like having to scale my movement from little to big to follow the audience’s idea of the growth from childhood to adulthood.

As a dancer I get stuck in developing movement with the sole purpose of looking good versus movement that is created from a real feeling or intention, like RealLivePeople 5-9-15-204making the choice to do an inversion because that’s my way of not listening to someone rather than doing it to show everyone that I can do this cool upside down move. Performing with RealLivePeople was a fun and exciting learning experience; I am thrilled to continue to grow as a dancer.

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I know I am lying if…

by Sara Nye

You must intend to lie in order to lie. You must know you are lying. I promise. Which means, on some level, you must know the truth and choose to keep it a secret.

1. Bill Nye the Science Guy is my uncle. Lie. Because I know it’s false and I’m telling you anyway. Lies must know they are lies to be lies.

2. Bill Nye is really good at science. Truth. Because many people agree that this is accurate.

3. If I had chosen to study science instead of English and dance, I would have been as skilled in the sciences as Bill Nye. Honest statement. Neither truth nor lie. I’m not really sure if this is true or not, but I believe it to be true. Therefore, I am being honest.

Wait. So I could be telling a falsehood and still be an honest person, as long as I sincerely believe that thing is true? Yes. Oo, cool, sounds like a loophole. Let’s try again.

Photo: Lindsay Browning

Photo: Lindsay Browning

1. I know all the differences between truth and lies. I am a truth expert. I am a lies expert. I tell both every day and analyze what shape they have in my head, how they feel coming out of my mouth, what they look like settling on a person. Lie.

2. I am thinking about this blog post right now. Truth. I am writing down what I am thinking. Truth. Although that won’t be true by the time you read this, because by the time you read this, I will not still be writing down what I am thinking.

3. Lies are frustrating, confusing, inaccurate things. Truths are just frustrating and confusing. Honest statement. Sounds true to me.

Sometimes things start out as true and become false later. That’s frustrating and confusing. Promises not kept do that. Ever notice how a freshly made promise always sounds sincere, but there is always something of doubt surrounding how you hear it? That’s the lie part of the promise lurking about, waiting to see if it’ll be used or not. Because a promise is all intention. “Well at least she had good intentions,” people say. Truth. She had intentions. She intended to call you, but then Game of Thrones came on, so she decided she wanted to do that instead. And you can’t call her a liar, because she did indeed intend to call you, just something got in the way. The intention was there. She did not tell a lie.

Unfortunately, we can’t start calling all the people that break promises liars. They are just unreliable. Being unreliable does not make them liars. Sometimes people promise unrealistic or difficult-to-achieve things. They don’t know they are lying – they are just employing extreme levels of hope. Unless of course they are of that select group of people that make promises left and right knowing they have zero intention of making good on them. Those people are liars. But how can you tell the difference between an honest person and a liar? For your reference, a quick line of questioning that might prove helpful:

Friend promises something. For example, to check in on your dog while you’re away.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is the thing achieveable?
  2. Has friend successfully accomplished a similar thing before?
  3. Does friend seem attentive while promising thing?

If the answer is yes to all of the above, friend is probably not a liar.

Alternatively:

  1. Is the thing a difficult task? For example, training your dog to run marathons while you’re away.
  2. Has friend failed at a similar task before?
  3. Does friend seem attentive and hopeful while promising thing?

If the answers to 1, 2, AND 3 are all yes, friend is an honest overachiever.

If the answers to 1 and 2 are yes and the answer to 3 is no, they actually look kind of shifty, friend is probably a liar.

A foolproof system! Lie. Helpful in determining whether a promise will be kept. Maybe. Frustrating and confusing. Honest statement.

Atypical Day

By Sara Nye, Dancer

There is a piece of the Jobs Project that, in rehearsal, we call the Typical Day section. It is an amalgamation of many different interviewees describing snatches of their ‘typical day.’ Thus far we have approached this section choreographically by creating a tight improv structure that governs our movement choices and involves the handful of us taking turns and moving only when a new person in the sound score speaks. We are slowly becoming accustomed to hearing various interviewees talk about what a typical day in their work life entails. We are learning not only what they say but how they say it and matching our movement to their vocal inflections. We try to anticipate when the score will shift to a new speaker. I find this task very satisfying, as it organizes the dancers in a clear way and I love following patterns in dance, both as a watcher and practitioner.

I have begun thinking more about how this section relates to my working life because, in a recent rehearsal, Gina asked us to incorporate movement grounded in tasks from our own jobs. I struggled to find something ‘typical’ because each of my work days is different from the others. This fact will not ultimately matter for the execution of this task: I can choose any work task from any of my jobs and it will work in the context of the piece, but that initial struggle opened up a line of thought that would not stop pestering me. Surely no one has two work days that are exactly the same? There are similarities, but no one does the exact same thing every day. Then I thought, let me think outside the workplace – is there any one thing that I have done every single day for, say, a year?

Bike. No, not when I’m travelling, or when my bike is in the shop. Check my email. No, thank God. Talk to my husband. No, I think there have been small trips we’ve taken apart where we didn’t talk every day. Leave my apartment. No, there have been days where I’ve stayed home. More basic. Eat. Yes – here we go. I have eaten something every day. Walk. Yes, I have walked around my home, at the very least. Breathe, smell, see, sleep. Yes, I am lucky enough to have done all of these things every day. But if I dial back my personal history further, even some of these go away. When I was a baby, I did not walk. When I was in college, there were days I did not sleep.

My journey down this rabbit hole of technicality is mostly an interesting thought experiment I created for my own enjoyment, but it helped me see the Typical Day section, and also my own work days, in a new light. Because compared to what I just learned about myself, most of my days are actually atypical, no matter how typical they seem. Every day is unique. Kind of a refreshing thought.

Meet Adams! According to him the egg came first.

As a company we spend endless hours rehearsing, giggling and sharing our
lives and we wanted to share a bit of ourselves with you. Rather than posting
tired bios with stats and degrees, each company member created questions for another.

adams jumpingInterviewer: Sara Nye

Interviewee: Adams Berzins

What would you do if you got laid off tomorrow?

Get another job as quickly as possible and start determining what assets I have that could be liquified.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The Egg. The fallacy is that a chicken would be a required to lay an egg that would produce another chicken, however, a chicken could be born from an egg laid by an organism that, genetically speaking, would not be considered a chicken. Evolution at work. The conundrum comes when needing to determine how that chicken would then be able to create more chickens without a similar mutation occurring in another egg that created a genetically similar organism that could procreate and beget more eggs and similar chickens.

What keeps you dancing, despite how busy you are?

Social interaction that detaches me from my 9-5 life. The opportunity to be creative in an embodied way that I’m not afforded in my day to day life.

What is a moral/ethical question with which you struggle?

The marginalization of masculinity and manliness in popular culture and society. I’m not sure its a moral/ethical questions but it is a broader societal phenomena that I struggle with understanding and try to document it and reverse it. In the realm of moral and ethical, I struggle with the advancement of technology and the applications for privacy and health. The alternate uses of information that is gathered for beneficial purposes, such as medical data or even shopping habits being used for targeted campaigns based on sweeping demographic assumptions. And the private control of that information beyond the initial use.

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? What in your life would change?

I don’t think I’d change all that much. I’d make things around me better and more comfortable. A part from paying off school for Adi and other debts, paying off my house, donating $50,000-$100,000 to the Latvian for renovations and upgrades (new bar, kitchen, theater apparatuses).  If I have significant money left over, I’d start a fund to pay for arts administrators in Philadelphia. A for-profit management company that would provide administrative services to artists large and small at a subsidized rate to allow companies to grow and manage their company for maximum benefit and sustainability. That is probably about as far as a million would go. I’d hope to have enough left over to take a nice trip, like a really nice trip to the Seychelles or the Maldives.

Meet Sara-without-an-h! She is a thoughtful kisser.

As a company we spend endless hours rehearsing, giggling and sharing our
lives and we wanted to share a bit of ourselves with you. Rather than posting
tired bios with stats and degrees, each company member created questions for another.

Sara at the lakeIntervierwer: Mason Rosenthal

Interviewee: Sara Nye

How do you think you would have been different had you been named Sarah with an “h”?

Growing up, there were frequently other Saras or Sarahs or Sarais in my classes. Having a slightly rarer spelling of the name always made me feel a little special. However, there are other things about me that make me feel special or unique, so I don’t think I would have necessarily felt one of the crowd even with an “h.” I certainly wouldn’t have had to correct people as much, so I believe being a Sara cultivated my desire for precision and my tendency to pay attention to details. I try to spell other people’s names right the first time because it matters to me. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been like that.

What is the best part of your work?

Most of my work schedule follows the academic school year, so though September through June is usually super busy, I love having holidays, a spring break, and a summer break off. I enjoy the fact that not every day of the year is the same.

How old were you when you had your first kiss? Describe every detail.

I was 17, nearly 18. Late bloomer. My boyfriend Matt senior year of high school was only my boyfriend for a month, mainly because I didn’t know what to do with a boyfriend at that time in my life, so I broke up with him. However, I did manage to get my first kiss. He came over to my house, and we sat close together on the couch and watched a recording of (nerd alert) a production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. I waited for him to lean in, because, again, I did not know what I was doing. I remember the entire time thinking, “Oh my God, I’m kissing him! I’m doing that thing that people do! Huh, so this is what it’s like? Pretty cool. Interesting. I wonder if I’m doing it right.” I was really analytical about it.

What websites do you frequent?

I’ve been very into Philebrity.com lately. I get a lot of news about festivals, concerts, other events in town. NYTimes. I spend a lot of time on Google Maps and airline travel sites and Airbnb.com. I like to plan trips, even trips that aren’t in the near future or imaginary trips.

What’s a fashion trend that confuses you?

I hate jean shorts that show the pockets sticking out past the bottom of the shorts. I’m all for Daisy Dukes. I have several pairs. But don’t show the stupid pockets. What’s the point? Are you proving how short your shorts are?

What is your worst habit?

I procrastinate. I’ve wanted to start writing poetry again for 5 years now. And it hasn’t happened.

What teacher or mentor has most influenced your dancing?

For me, there were two people. Emily and Rachel were both interim dance professors at Dickinson College my senior year. They co-led the Dance Theatre Group and taught the improv and choreography classes that year. They challenged me all the time. They were young and incredibly full of energy, and they made me want to move to a city and try my hand at a professional dance career. I had lunch with Rachel after I had decided to move to Philly, and she got real with me about the challenges that often arise when you pursue the life of an artist, financial and otherwise. I always appreciated that – knowing, however slightly, what I was getting myself into.

What performance skill do you think you are best at?

At first I thought “remembering detail,” but that’s more of a rehearsal process skill, isn’t it? I think focus. Focus is tied to detail and precision. I really try to focus on the elements of a performance that are truly important for me. In this piece, how much do I need to focus on the audience and their reactions (for things like comedic timing purposes)? How much do I need to focus on what other performers are doing or saying (for unison moments or realistic responses)? Am I losing focus on my spatial awareness, facial expression, core strength? Am I focusing on the notes my director gave me? When I perform, I feel like I am constantly asking myself these things.

Which sense is most important to you?

Sense of smell. It is so tied to memory. I love the waves of nostalgia that can wash over me when I smell something that jolts me back to a specific place or time. Because of that, I get angry at myself if I can’t place a smell, if I can’t figure it out. I smelled bacon the other day, and I knew I knew the smell, but it took me a couple minutes to place it. It was weird.

What super power would you want the most?

Super-strength. I feel physically weak sometimes. I imagine what kind of dancer I would be were strength not an issue. I could lift anyone. I would never get tired. My wrists would not give out as they sometimes do. I would be graceful in my strength.