Wini’s Promise Journal

February 13, 2015
We are now a little over halfway into the re-staging/re-learning/re-choreographing of Promise, and its been very satisfying, so far. The dancers have been eager to learn and train on the straps (although I suspect with every rip on their hands from the straps their enthusiasm wanes a little).

We’ve re-worked the Birth sequence from Act 2 by adding a nice attitude lift for Ariel Dorsey (as Cathy) and Zada Cheeks (as Adam). We also added a better swing for Ariel as she moves over the “Twins” at the end of this section. The Rowena dance from Act 2 also has a few changes. The twins duet has had only a few small changes, and Tim and Jesse have been very enthusiastic about their dance.

Other things I’m planning to re-work: the Trio (Cathy & the Twins) and the Ending Dance. The Trio was a real challenge in 2009 to make. It took us three full rehearsals (7.5 hours) just to get about 2 1/2 minutes of choreography. (I love what we came up with but for reasons I still don’t fully understand, it took a while to get there…) The opening of the Ending sequence needs a little brushing up and I’m looking forward to re-creating it.

November 14, 2014
Its official! We are presenting Promise again on March 20 & 21, 2015 at the Ruth Page Center, and I’ve just completed the rehearsal schedule for January to March. We’re going to start aerial training right after holidays at C5 Studio and the dancers (and I!) are really excited about diving into aerial training.

I’m planning to change some of the sections, specifically the birth and the group sections. I’m also looking at the trio in the 2nd act, which is pretty good as is, but I feel it needs a few revisions. I may also play with the structure of Promise and add some better program notes to help audience members who are not so familiar with East of Eden. Stay tuned…

May 4, 2009
I saw Natalie Rast last week and she has agreed to perform this fall in “Promise” ! I’m really excited. Natalie is my age, one of the best ballet teachers in the city and a really great performer. I’m considering a solo for her or perhaps a section, near the end, where Liza “ages” and morphs into her older self. By the end of the book Liza and Cathy are 40-ish, so it might make sense to “pass off” the dance to the older ones. (Cathy might need to “age,” before she commits suicide, as well…) Natalie may end the whole dance, too. I can’t wait to work with her!

I’m in the process of narrowing down the sections for the “2nd act,” but I’m leaving the structure open enough to accomodate those sections/events that may develop within rehearsals. That seems to be one of my ways of working — I Iike to have a structure or an idea for a structure in place before my first time in the studio with the dancers while also leaving the process open to what happens. I don’t think I’m unique, in this respect. Having both a structural (which can sometimes be as simple as a list of things to do) and an improvisational approach, is a great balance for me. Right now. In my work. And life.

March 31, 2009
We completed the “sewing together” of parts 1, 2 and 3. They were presented at the Ruth Page Theatre March 21 & 22 and I have to say, they looked well together.

As is so typical, the producing part of showing my work takes over my brain and I often feel like I can’t concentrate on the choreography as much I’d like. (Some times its a good thing not to concentrate too much on something…) That said, everything looked great and made sense, and people seemed to like it. The dancers are really growing in their roles and I am very impressed with Andrew, who has really matured into his part (and into modern dance in general) very nicely. He has truly brought complexity into his aerial abilities and I feel lucky to be able to take advantage of his growing physical and mental skills.

Erika, likewise, has grown in her role. As she matures, so does her character, and so does her ability to portray “evil” and its many nuanced diguises. She has also developed the capacity to make evil into a human. Her pregnancy has increased her physcial size (in only the most lovely way), and I feel it has enhanced her look and the way she moves in this dance.

Also, I feel like a community is being created within my dance about community and that is a good thing. All of the dancers I’m working with right now are so wonderful and they seem to be just right there with me, in rehearsals, in between rehearsals, during discussions, etc.

I am back in creation mode, and ideas are flowing and crystallizing. I think I know what I have to do, and now I return to the creation of phrases, motifs and images for the completion of “Promise.” I’ve started my next notebook (ahh, the notebooks that this project has generated…), and I am finding again those images and movements of that will reveal the story.

September 11, 2008
I’ve been working on the newest duet in “Promise.” Its for Grace Whitworth and Lindsey Frattare. I created a duet for them this summer (2 Zions in the Wood Rising) and it was very much fun to make. We showed “2 Zions” as part of Vaudeville Underground in August, and I’m hoping to show it again as part of Dance Chicago in November.

I’ve put together a possible structure for this latest Promise duet — always my fall back position, in case a more “organic” structure does not present itself in time. My aim is to show the two women (for one brief shining moment) on stage together alone , and to illuminate the differences and similarities between them. They’ll be doing simultaneous solos that connect and pull apart and re-connect, etc. In the final version of Promise (its completed version) this section will either: 1-rise out of the opening group walking section or 2- start the dance or 3- come in the middle or 4-something I haven’t thought of yet.

This summer I spent a lot of time going over the book and its structure (for the 4th or 5th time…) and comparing it with what I have created so far. As I see it now, Adams’s opening solo really shows him as he is in the first part of East of Eden. Somehow, we have very cleverly and succinctly captured his character through movement and where he is at when Cathy enters the dance.

With this latest duet, I’m working to capture Cathy & Liza in the same way. I hope to express their histories and who they are in the side by side solos.