Solos – Freedom In a Wealth of Possibility

by Victoria Wolfe

1. What challenges do you encounter when making solos that you don’t encounter using any other number of dancers? What liberty do you find?

I love the freedom and the space that you can give yourself when creating you own solo. You are your own responsibility, and so can tap into you intuition of movement and thought in a different way. There is more space for improvisation, change, and timing. However, the wealth of possibilities, even with a structured improvisation or with choreographic restrictions, can leave you very lost in choosing what to keep and what to leave behind. This is when I ask someone for feedback. Another problem I face when creating a solo is memory. Having a camera with you when you hit inspiration is very helpful!

2. How is your compositional approach different in making solos than other configurations?

It always depends on what it is I am making the solo on. If there is already a theme or idea then creating then sometimes I start with the outline of the solo first. Does there need to be movement? When does it make sense to start moving? How can I create movement that fits this idea? If I just start a solo by with improvisation or a piece of music, I start by finding movement that I find interesting or different. From there I am able to create meaning (or not). Also, I usually give lots of time for improvisation in order to see where I want to take a solo. From that wealth of information that my body gives I am able to choose only what makes the most sense for the piece.

3. When you are constructing a solo, what are some of the things you are looking to see or create?

When constructing a solo I always think of ways to fill up or use space creatively. It’s just you out there performing, so capturing the attention of the audience is very important. How can one body do or show something novel to capture the attention of others? For me, that’s a big responsibility. I also want to see movement that is thoughtful. You do need to make good art, but you don’t need to perform a bunch of tricks just to capture others’ attention (unless that’s the point of the dance).

4. What pitfalls or cliches have you embraced or confronted when making solos?

5. What are the reasons you choose/have chosen to create a solo over other configurations?

Sometimes it’s just because I have no other people to work with or I am short on time and forced to work by myself. Sometimes making solo work is cathartic. It clears out my body and mind of movement or thoughts and puts them into order. Solo work is also a good way of trying out different ideas before deciding to work with a group. Sometimes it helps me scrap an idea all together if the solo doesn’t work how I wanted it to. If the piece calls for it, one body might be more powerful than many.

6. What, and how, do solos contribute to your work, to your practice? What is their relevance?

7. For you, what necessities exist with solos that do not with other groupings?

Something about them, either the movement or of the performance quality, has to hold me throughout. I love when I see a performance that I can’t poke and prod with questions, but that has questions that it wants to ask me.

8. For you, what characteristics make up a well-crafted solo?

What are your thoughts about Victoria’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 Victoria here.