It’s my first day off in over a week! It’s lovely just to sit at home, drink coffee, call the folks, and just breathe for a moment.
Last weekend was the ODC Dance Jam’s fifth home season performance, V (“Five”). I helped organize their costumes and arrange the opening night reception. I’m so proud of these teen’s dedication and hard work. Not only do they rehearse and perform new and old works by a stunning array of Bay Area choreographers, they also do all the organizing, fundraising, ticket-selling, reception planning, marketing & PR work for their show. The ODC Dance Jam is awesome. No other way to say it. My favorite piece in their show was Scott Wells’ new work for the Jam. I happily worked with him to put together the costumes for it and I love how rock & roll he let me make it! Wells’ piece is humorous, high energy, and always makes me tear up a bit when three dancers come forward for an intimate moment with the audience to tell them about why they dance. The last, and best, line:
“Actually, it doesn’t make sense to talk about dance. We dance because words are insufficient to our reality. And, also, lets change the music.”
Cue the Smashing Pumpkins.
As the Jam did their last performances, I was getting the costumes organized to be loaded into the truck to take ODC’s 41st annual home season, Dance Downtown, to YBCA. We loaded in the next day and the majority of my week was spent pulling last minute costume details together. Oh the flurry of costume shopping, sewing, notes, organizing, and laundry! The 12 hour days of dress rehearsals right before opening nights were the hardest, but also the most satisfying. It’s a magical time, to stand in the house with the choreographers, or in the wings with the dancers, and witness it all come together.
All of the works presented this year I enjoy for different reasons. I love Kimi Okada’s brilliantly humorous, culture questioning, I look vacantly at the Pacific.. though regret, which has the best costumes and I always laugh out loud during! I could discuss for hours the juxtaposition of Brenda Way’s all-female Breathing Under Water and KT Nelson’s all-male Cut Out Guy, but then I would get sidetracked talking about the sweet live music manipulations of Zoe Keating and the Magik*Magik Orchestra. Way’s Raking Light raises questions, and Part of a Longer Story delights, but I am quite taken with Nelson’s Transit.
As my boyfriend Matt put it, after he saw the opening night performance, “It’s a slice of San Francisco.” You see relationships, a family, human interactions unfold over the course of a day. Three amazing custom built bicycles (imagine if a bike mated with a park bench, another with an outdoor cafe table complete with umbrella…) that fly across and around the stage. If you ever get a chance to see them up close, they are unwieldy beasts, but in their relationship with the dancers’ skill, they become light-weight, well-oiled, performing machines. A cloud of hanging Edison bulbs flicker on and off, and they could be stars, streetlights, lights in buildings in a city scape…
I love being in the wings for this piece, in my super important role as newspaper collector, costume quick change artist, and bicycle-butt-straightening assistant. For this piece, and the others, I get a different perspective on the performance than the audience, and it’s still magical. Maybe even more! They should charge extra for my seat (not that I would give it up!)! Seeing the wheels turning, how the cogs are in place – I have so much respect for the choreographers and these dancers, and the process that makes this magic happen. Just like the bikes, a well-oiled, working machine: a work of art producing art.
Here is video of the outdoor performance of Transit ODC did last fall for the SF Trolley dances. I love this version, too, especially the library patrons wandering in and out of the performance.
Lastly, my words are truly insufficient to describe how beautiful all of the ODC SF dancers are, in every piece, every performance. As dancers, as people, on stage - breathtaking.
I am so lucky to spend these backstage hours with them, in our wardrobe fittings, laughing, hysterically tired, telling dirty jokes. I feel that I am just a small cog in this performance machine, or the very youngest sister in this dance family (pick your metaphor), but I couldn’t feel more blessed to be a part of it all.
- Liz, ODC SF Wardrobe Supervisor