Beginnings – Setting a Balance of Flow

by Sallamah Chimera

1. For you, what role/s does the beginning play in a piece? More specifically, how have you employed beginnings in relation the rest of your work? (i.e. to frame, to present, to juxtapose, contextualize, clarify, foreshadow, etc)

For a solo, the beginning is used to make the performer the focal point. A soloist can add more emotional quality to the piece and project their personality to the audience. It can also position the dancer on stage for the next part of the dance. The beginning can set the tone for the piece. I like something simple but eye catching. For certain types of performances, the audience has to become acquainted with the dancer and see her costume, personality, and physical features.

2. Author Nancy Kress addresses the reality of having rich and interesting material, and yet, lacking a sense of direction or context for the material. In these instances, how have you found the beginning of your piece? How did you arrive at an idea to begin your piece? What did you confront, clarify to discover the beginning?

Sometimes I have movement that will make an excellent beginning and other times I have a choreographic or staging goal to accomplish. Most of my openings are static but some are high energy and require traveling to present the dancer to the audience. Most of our performing is done outside so it is easier to begin on stage already in place to begin the dance. Other times, we have a stage with curtains and can be far more creative with our entrances. One dance has veils and a series of intertwining walks and floor patterns.

3. At what points in the creating process have you attended to the beginning section of your works? Has dealing with the beginning at different points in the creating process presented unique challenges or discoveries? Please describe.

At various points. Sometimes it is the last thing I create because it can’t overpower the middle of the dance or be stronger than the conclusion. I usually know what my introduction and conclusion will be but have to develop the middle of the dance. This can lead to movement not relating to the opening or the ending. The dance can look disjointed so I have to change my original intro or ending.

4. Have you ever had to go back and change your beginning? What occurred or revealed itself that led you to this decision?

Yes, one dance had a weak movement theme in the conclusion and an overpowering introduction. By switching them around, the dance became much more balanced and better defined. It gradually built in energy and complexity and was far more enjoyable to watch and perform.

What are your thoughts about Sallamah’s reflection on making solos? Leave a comment below. Want to share your own reflection on making solos? You can share it here. 

Read more reflections by Sallamah here.