Monday, July 16, 2012

Stilting in Denmark - Day 2

Got a good amount of sleep last night - timed it well to actually be jet-lag tired at bedtime, so I woke up this morning pretty alert. Stepping back a second, on my arrival last night and after dropping bags in the room I went around and tried to get my positioning in the labyrinth which is the space here -- there are three (or four?) rehearsal studios and a video room and a resource room and scene shops and lots of offices all scattered around a number of building all connected by long hallways. As I walked about I met most of the stilters, a few of whom i know: Jay from Carpetbag Brigade and Nicholas Sinfuentes who stilted with us in two Halloween Parades; some new friends like Mike and Zita know of us through our dear friend Meghan Frank as they all were just at Del'Arte in CA.

9 am, following breakfast, we started off with an Odin based training session led by Tage, a long time company member (one of the founding members I believe, over 40 yrs ago). The word "training" is used here in the athletic sense, as in training a boxer; a lot of physical movement. We are not being 'taught" something per se, but the focus is on new discoveries, trying to come up with surprising and new physical ways of doing things. The exercise, which kept us running for like 45 minutes, is the kind of thing I've done for years and the rules are very simple... move around the room, jump, fall to the ground, freeze in various statue-like positions. The object is to surprise each other and imitate exactly what each other is doing. But it's really hard to do; you (well, I) tend use the same "usual" tempos and gestures. It's actually quite difficult to surprise yourself.

One great thing about it is you reeeeeaaally get to learn a lot about the strangers in the room. As I said, I went around last night and met people, but there is only so much you can learn about a person in conversation. You can learn names, home towns, likes and mutual friends, but you rarely learn who the ARE. Running around in one of these exercises, and you can immediately assess your neighbors - who is fluid, who looks you in the eye (or avoids contact), who steps with levity, conviction, who is creative, who reserved? Everyone's personalities are starkly apparent.

Among the stilters there are several Italians, Colombians, Canadians and USofA's - 16 of us in all. Following the training we put on stilts and strutted about and showed each other whatever we had to show. Some, like the Colombians - Nemcataco a Teatro - and Carpetbag Brigade had some very cool acro-choreography worked out. Others without routines did improvised movements and character studies. I showed off some staff and flag manipulation. Following lunch Tage and Donald (another Odin member) introduced us to various new "toys" they were building, great long lengths of PVC pipe attached to the body or bent into various size hoops. Between the considerable bouts of rain (when it would get magnificently sunny) we went out to a nearby field to play around, tossing the stuff about to see what we could do with them. Not everything was brilliant, but it was a great deal of fun.

I'll try to get some photos over the next few days. I have no idea what the performance on Sunday will look like (the details of that seem to change daily) but the process will be educational and entertaining, and new friends will be made.

More to come, watch this space.

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