Beneath the Stories We Wear, by Claire Calalo

The first day of rehearsal at the beginning of a new project is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. For me, it’s the equivalent of the writer’s blank page (or perhaps an empty Word doc these days) because I usually don’t prepare anything before walking into the room. No music…no steps…no counts. Usually not even a solid idea about where the rehearsal will take us.

I would venture a guess that some dancers might hate working with me because of this fact. And I don’t want you to get the wrong impression–it’s not that I’m unprepared or lazy. What happens during the first rehearsal of a new piece is incredibly sacred to me, because the room of dance artists whom I know, trust, and respect becomes an incubator for the growth of inklings, the proliferation of inquiries, and the exploration of impulses. We begin by asking each other the simplest of questions, “How are you?” and follow that with, “What is on your mind?”.

From here, we discover together the questions that have been simmering for each of us, and how those questions resonate with each other or create discord. Where do the worldviews of these 10 individuals–in this room, at this moment–collide, intersect, change, or resonate with each other? What rises to the surface of our conversation and compels us to deepen our understanding through explorations in movement, sound, and storytelling?

The fcdc dance making process asks a lot of the artists who constitute the collective. As the founder and Artistic Director, I come into rehearsal with no counts but many expectations. I expect each collaborator to tell me about their personal life. I expect each collaborator to open up artistically and expose the sensitive, raw, and vulnerable aspects of their humanity. I expect each collaborator to invent movement passages, to speak words with true, personal meaning, and to critically evaluate the work we create together.

We wear many different hats at fcdc. We act simultaneously as dancers, choreographers, storytellers, designers, friends, collaborators , and people. And that last bit is the most important part, and our most valuable individual contribution. The many and varied hats we wear reflect where we come from, what we’ve been through, what our family histories are, what we do: for a living, to give us life, or to push us forward–and so much more.

I am struck by the idea of the costumes that we wear, the many stories that we embody, and the ways that we adorn and prepare ourselves for public life. For Beneath the Stories We Wear, we asked ourselves: how many hats do we wear in a single day? How about in a lifetime? How do the hats we wear both define us and constrain us? And what presumptions do we consciously and subconsciously make about others based on the hats they wear?

“It doesn’t fit…it’s getting tighter. It prevents you from looking up.
I’ve always admired a woman who can wear a hat.
I am not that woman, I am a kayak.
I am an impostor in a hat.”
(Beneath the Stories We Wear, 2015)

As we approach our second annual home season, with all of the experiences of our first home season and the last 6 years of collective dance making behind us, we look to our audiences, our supporters, and our wider community to find out how we can better connect with you. How can we engage you in our creative process and in the presentation that we finally make to you? As we invite you to witness what we’ve made, how can we also include you and your many stories, and invite you into our inquiry as we quest (as ever) for change?

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