Inspiration- Keeping it Real.

by Marsha Parrilla

1. Where have your ideas come from?

Most of my ideas come from personal experience or contemporary social issues in society. I also like to explore with conceptual work.

2. What approaches have you used to flesh out your ideas?

I do “movement brainstorming”; I create sketches; I do online research; I watch documentaries, and I talk my ideas out with my husband.

3. Once you received an inspiration, what were some of your next steps?

If I want music, I try to figure out its musicality. If that isn’t coming to fruition yet, I continue to block the piece by dividing it into sections (like a storyline).

4. What strategies have you used to take an inspiration and translate it into something you could use to generate movement and create a piece about?

Storyboards are great. They are a great way to organize your thoughts. I like making the board on paper, and then cutting the scenes so I have the flexibility to move them around like a puzzle, and edit the pieces I do not want anymore.
I also like to record and review, to see if what my body is doing captures the message.

5. How have you handled an inspiration that seemed too big to tackle through movement? For example, refine it, abandon it, etc?

I have postponed ideas because they require a big budget to accomplish them. For example, I have imagined great big installations, but I need to wait until I have the necessary budget. A cheap installation will look cheap, so I postpone them.

6. How many of us have these magnificent ideas in our heads for pieces that never see the light of day? What advice do you have for those who find it hard to get started?

Start somewhere. It all starts with one step. Keep it simple, and allow the piece to grow organically. Better to have simple and good quality, than not get anything done because you get caught up in what you cannot do at this time. Start small, and see where it takes you.

7. In translating your inspirations into movement, have you found any limitations in movement’s ability to fully realize what you’re attempting to communicate? Or, have you felt that as a choreographer you were limited in your ability to access movement that fully realized your inspiration? How did you manage that hurdle?

Yes, this is a two part answer. Physically, for the first time in my life I have faced that issue because I am 7 months pregnant and I am choreographing a show that opens in two months. Luckily most of my dancers know the work pretty well, and can be great assistants. It only becomes burdensome when I still do not see the ideal movement in them, and I cannot show it. They eventually achieve it, but it only takes longer to get there now.

As far as conceptually, it has been challenging if I have a clear idea for a piece based on personal experience, but I cannot quite put it into words. The movement comes clear, but the intention takes longer as I figure out how to have them empathize with my experience. Eventually, I end up eliciting different images from them based on their personal experience that they can connect with.