Dancer Collab – An Ever-Changing Construct

by Holly Rothschild

1. How do you define your relationship with your dancers as it relates to the choreographic process?

My relationship changes. Sometimes, I bring in all of the movement and teach it to the dancers and sometimes, I write very specific directions and ask them to develop phrases based on my directions and then we tweak it.

2. As choreographer-to-dancer, what function/s have each of you held in contributing to and/or impacting the generation, selection, staging, etc. of material?

Again that changes. However, I feel like the outcome of the piece is always in some capacity reflective of the dancers. They are the ones who make it a piece by exploring how to fulfill the movement and their relationship to the other dancers. I have a duet that I’ve set on different dancers and it seems like a completely different piece depending on who is dancing it.

3. In her article, “Collaborating with Dancers,” Hope Mohr talks about a spectrum of collaboration which spans from the “old-school genius” model, where “creativity falls almost exclusively to the choreographer,” to a more mutualistic model, where choreographers “rely heavily on the dancers with whom they work not only to generate vocabulary, but also to problem-solve at every point in the creative process.” As a choreographer, how have you traversed this spectrum?

If I ask the dancers to contribute, I make sure to credit them. Making dances is always a HUGE learning process to I often ask if everything feels “right” to them. If we are doing notes I sometimes ask if the problem is solvable once it’s familiar or is it a bigger choreographic issue. I love feedback.

4. Along this spectrum, what factors have influenced how you utilize your dancers in the choreographic process?

It often comes down to time for me. I recently had a project where I only had about 7 rehearsals with the entire company to create a 40 minute piece for a large group. I had to ask them to generate material because of the time crunch. I also really enjoyed that process of seeing my specific direction become interpreted by each individual.

5. Is there a side of the spectrum you tend to lean towards? Why?

In the past, I was pretty adamant about constructing all the movement but now I like to go back and forth. I definitely tweak the movement and change it and shape it and direct it if one of the dancers creates a phrase.

6. Has that propensity changed over time or as you have gained more experience? if so, what has led to that change?

I still go back and forth depending on the project.

7. As a choreographer, what do you glean from your dancers that informs, adjusts, clarifies, confirms, etc., the material and the work at-large?

I have so much respect for the people that take the time to work with me. I’m so blown away that they want to take the time to do that and it’s really humbling. A lot of the dancers I work with are also choreographers so it’s wonderful to have their feedback and clarity during the process.

What are your thoughts about Holly’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 from Holly here.