Posts tagged #dance

Bringing Movement into Playwriting

Me, trying to be "movement-y" with Michael Mohammed.

Me, trying to be "movement-y" with Michael Mohammed.

Recently, I've been considering how I can access more of my right brain while writing. This might sound redundant to some, since writing can be a creative act, and thus would tap into right-brain energy. However, I often feel that writing can become a very left-brain act for me, as I focus a lot on linearity, logic, and building a concrete structure. These aren't things to avoid, necessarily, but I do feel they can sometimes limit where I take my thoughts creatively. As I begin writing the script for Calafia, which occurs in a realm of fantasy, I want to allow my right brain to do some more conjuring without letting my left brain get in the way.

One way I thought of doing this was through movement. So, this week, I met with director/choreographer/teacher Michael Mohammed (director of the recent Town Hall Theatre production of The Song of the Nightingale), who gave me some ideas about how to connect movement of my body to the work I have to do as a playwright. Michael guided me through a handful of movement and gesture exercises. One of the most insightful was imagining the space I was in as a gravity room, where center stage has normal earth gravity, stage right has 200% gravity, and stage left has 0%. Walking back and forth, I was invited to explore the heaviness or lightness of my body. Then we layered on another gradient: emotion. What if stage right was anger at 200% gravity and stage left was joy at 0%? And what if you swapped the emotions? What if we tried fear or sadness?

For me, this opened up a new way of fleshing out my characters. I have already taken the exercise home and worked on it with some of the roles in Calafia. I'm discovering through posture and gesture what priorities or desires might exist for my characters. For the titular role of Calafia, for example, I learned that she would much prefer to stand in the middle with chest and head held high. And if circumstances cause her to head toward either the 200% or the 0% directions with her body, she begins to feel out of place or exposed. Her priority is to retain the status quo, but it might also be a cover-up for deeper emotions that she does not wish to express for fear that it will make her look weak or out of control. I don't think I would have learned this about her this quickly in another way, and this leaves me feeling very excited to continue bringing movement into my playwriting process.

Posted on October 24, 2017 and filed under Creative, Dance, Education, Research, Story, Thought, Writing.

Becoming the Nightingale - An Interview with Deedra Wong

Theater is arguably the most collaborative artform in existence. It requires a reliance on others bringing their talents, skills and expertise, and a trust in their decisions and intuition. With The Song of the Nightingale opening at Altarena Playhouse in a few weeks, I wanted to showcase some of the amazing people who are helping me bring this show to life. First, I interview Deedra Wong who is playing the title role of The Nightingale.

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MIN: One of the most fascinating things to me about this project is the fact that most of the actors in this show do so much more than perform. Can you describe a little of what you do beyond performing?

DEEDRA: I like to read tarot cards and help people gain insight into their life.  I love the mystical arts and I love sharing what I know with people. I  started reading cards in 1986 and started my business Tarot Perspectives in 2012. I read for people over the telephone or in person.

I teach dance and choreograph musicals as well, and I like helping people become  better performers. In addition to Nightingale, I am choreographing The Gold Rush Musical! produced by Bay Area Children's Theatre, which will go on tour to local elementary schools in October.

Deedra's album Pisces Dream is available on iTunes or Amazon    

Deedra's album Pisces Dream is available on iTunes or Amazon

 

I also wrote an album called, Pisces Dream. It's a  self-produced electronica album on iTunes. I hope to write another album  again at some point. Maybe I'll write a book too. The artist in me  needs to constantly be creative!

M: What drew you to work on The Song of the Nightingale?

D: A friend told me there was a local playwright in the Bay Area who wrote a  musical written for an all Asian cast featuring a dancing bird. I knew at  that moment I wanted to be in the show. I wanted to be a part of a local,  original project and help bring it to life. When I saw the first staged  reading in 2010, I originally thought I wanted to be play Feng because I  wanted to use my voice and be comedic. But then as time went on, I  realized the Nightingale role was more fitting since I am primarily a  dancer. I like the challenge of not using my voice at all and only using  movement to convey my character. To be graceful and smooth is a good  challenge for me.

Photo by Peter Lichty      

Photo by Peter Lichty

 

M: What are your creative sources of inspiration in working to craft the  character of the Nightingale?

D: The music is my true source of inspiration for the Nightingale. The  music tells me what to do.

M:What kinds of dance are influencing her  movement?

D: I use a little bit of everything to craft  her movement: ballet, modern, jazz, latin dance, hip hop, Chinese  dance. The one thing I knew about the Nightingale was that she is not  only one style but all styles mixed in one body.

M: Well, I'm certainly thankful that you are a part of this project. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions as well.

Posted on September 25, 2013 and filed under Creative, Dance, Musical Theater, Nightingale.