This is Liggett Studio in downtown Tulsa, where much of the dance work being made around here starts. Portico, Soluna, and TuMM use it regularly to create and rehearse (and for TuMM’s “Suchness” it served as “backstage,” since the performance was on the river). Steve Liggett of Living Arts, who owns the space, recently installed a set of mirrors on rolling casters, which we are all enjoying very much. Although it was pretty fascinating to see people create and learn choreography without them … it takes some serious attention and trust to have to feel what something looks like without being able to see it.
Last night I met here with Megan McKown Miller, artistic director of the Soluna Performing Arts Group, to work on a new piece that Soluna will be submitting for the Oklahoma Dance Film Festival. I love working with Megan — we’ve known each other since we were kids and share the same training and the same love of creating dramatic movement that I suspect we absorbed from our teacher, Miss Larkin, who danced with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Megan had an amazing career with Tulsa Ballet, during which she performed in several ballets by Nacho Duato, by whom she has been deeply influenced. It is a pleasure to create with someone I can “feel” so naturally (just as it’s a different sort of pleasure to work with someone whose style and training are very different from my own).
Some choreographers start with music that speaks to them, others with a gesture or an idea they want to investigate. Megan tends to start with a character, finding her movement by exploring life in that person’s body (whether a real person or an imagined one). Last night, bringing to the studio her thoughts about a character who has inspired her over many years and a strong idea (discussed beforehand with videographer Geoffrey Hicks) of what the film would express visually, she created a five-minute piece in just over an hour, which has got to set some sort of record.
The next step will be getting together on the film location — a very different “where” — with Geoffrey, a Tulsa photographer and installation artist whose work was recently featured in the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Art 365 exhibition. He is a frequent Soluna collaborator, who among other things did the stunning videography for the group’s “Song of the Swimming Sun” (2010). So Megan and I will dance, Geoffrey will film and edit, and we’ll submit the piece and see where it goes. Here’s to completing the first phase of a powerful little project.