The journey of the post-its

By Gina Hoch-Stall, Choreographer

Several years ago, just as RLPiM was forming, we created our first evening-length work, “the evolution of this moment.” As a part of the piece we asked audience members to write down their own evolutions, how they came to be here, in this exact second, on a post-it. We then displayed the post-its, turned them into a collage…

…and finally started using them for our next piece, “Backstories.”

At that time all of the company members had at least a little bit of experience with improvisational structures in theater and dance. One day I walked into rehearsal with a Ziploc bag filled with colorful post-its and asked the dancers to pick one and make a short dance out of it. Then another. And another. Soon we were hooked.

We began to develop rules and suggestions depending on the content, length and tone of the post-it. We gradually got better at finding the best articulation of the post-it through movement, text, metaphor and often humor–plus we loved it! So when it came time to decide what was going to be included in “Backstories” it seemed impossible to leave our post-it work out.

It was decided that we would create at least five post-it dances throughout the show as a kind of break for ourselves and the audience from the ‘seriousness’ of modern dance. We even gathered the post-its afresh from the audience each night so they might even recognize their stories coming alive.

They were a hit!

Flash forward eight months to our application for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (commonly known as PIFA). We applied with our “Jobs Project” in mind, only to be told that it didn’t fit with the festival’s theme which was focused on specific dates in history.

We assumed that would be the end of it.

But the lovely staff at the Kimmel Center were eager to find a way to make it work (insert shout out to Jay Wahl here). After attending one of our rehearsals and hearing about our work with the post-its the name ‘Tongue and Groove Spontaneous Theater’ came up.

I had never heard of T&G but I went on their website and read this:

Tongue & Groove is a critically acclaimed theater ensemble that spontaneously performs unscripted scenes and monologues inspired by personal information anonymously submitted by the audience.

I was intrigued.

Fast forward again to my meeting with Bobbi Block, Artistic Director of T&G. She is interested but skeptical. How can we make this work? Share a bill? Collaborate? By this time I have seen one of her shows but she has yet to see any of our post-it work. We realize that nothing can be decided until she has seen our work–however at this point we are leaning toward an all post-it show.

In advance of Bobbi’s visit we schedule a few extra rehearsals to run through the post-it question we’d be using for the PIFA show, “If you could travel back in time to any point in your own life, where would you go and why?”

We flesh out some kinks, come up with some new rules and ideas and cross our fingers that we won’t blow it…

And we didn’t! After a somewhat rocky start we quickly hit our groove and began to bring the post-its to life as small dances, similar to Tongue and Groove’s work but different enough to be interesting.

Which brings us to the present: Tongue and Groove and RealLivePeople(in)Motion present ‘That Time’–co-produced by the Kimmel Center as part of PIFA. It was a long process but we’re excited to get into the studio and practice creating this production–because it will never be remotely the same twice.

You can learn more about the show, and Tongue and Groove, HERE.

And keep your eyes peeled for more posts about the post-it rehearsal process.

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“The Third Shift” Preview

We are excited to have been offered an opportunity to perform “The Third Shift” again at the Arden Theatre as part of their First Friday Performance Series. If it was difficult for you to make it out to Kensington for our Philadlephia Fringe performance in early September we hope you can join us this Friday (details below).

To get you pumped about the piece we’ve also created a short preview from some footage shot of the warehouse version. Remember that we were dancing in and around paintings, sculptures and installations created by 25 artists and it was pretty hard to keep us all in the frame so I apologize for the few shaky camera moments.

Performance Information:

Arden Theatre: 40 N. 2nd, Old City Philadelphia

Performing on Friday October 5th at 6:30pm, 7:00pm and 7:30pm

“The Third Shift” or “How we made a dance in 16 hours”

By Gina Hoch-Stall, choreographer

“The Third Shift” is a brand spanking new piece by RLPiM for a FREE Philadelphia Fringe Festival performance in a raw warehouse space in Kensington. The performance is called “Make it. Break it. Rebuild it.” and it focuses on the process of creation, demolition and reconstruction in all of its forms.

There are a lot of art makers involved (over 20) and the majority are material-based artists but seven of us are choreographers/dancers and each performance will showcase three of our site specific pieces.

If you think this sounds intriguing, so did I when I was approached about participating in mid-July. Since I was out of town at the time (down in D.C. doing the Dance Exchange Intensive) we essentially had one month to make a brand new dance that would:

a) Fit the theme of the show.

b) Be appropriate for a raw warehouse space with a hard concrete floor, minimum lighting and an audience that could get up and go to the bar at any time.

c) Represent our own choreographic explorations (currently centered on jobs/work).

d) Not look like a hot mess.

Did I mention that of the four dancers involved (myself included) two were going on vacation/work related travel for most of the month? Whew!

But the good news is that we have done it! We have made an athletic quartet that focuses on the warehouse as a place of work (glue, wool, stockings, lamps and dye have all been made in this space in the past 200 years). Interviews and stories from the book, “Voices of Kensington” Vanishing Mills, Vanishing Neighborhoods,” by Jean Seder have inspired our movement creation: incorporating heavy lifting, gestures honed by the precision of repetition and echoes of workers who once used the space to feed their families and fill their days.

We are excited to share what we’ve created and get some helpful feedback as we plan to incorporate some of this material into our ‘Jobs Project’ moving forward. All the details about the show are below, hope to see you there!

“The Third Shift” part of Make it. Break it. Rebuild it.

Where: Pieri Creations, Oxford and Front Street

When: Saturday Sept 8 @ 6:30pm AND Saturday Sept 15 @ 7pm

How much: FREE!