Most people only ever see a choreographed dance in its final form: on stage. But have you ever wondered how a dance work is really made? There’s trial and error, physical exploration, and a lot of “do overs.” It’s like cooking blindfolded; you have to lead with your senses and expect the unexpected.

Making Visible attempts to break down some of the barriers between the creative process and those sitting in the audience. The event, which continues through mid-June, features one of my favorite dancers of all time, former San Francisco Ballet Principal (and currently a Visiting Artist at Stanford University) Muriel Maffre along with current SF Ballet Principal Damian Smith, choreographer Folawole, and composer Paul Dooley.

What: Making Visible

Where: Marina Abramovic Institute West, 575 Sutter Street, San Francisco

When: (Creative process) June 4-6, 4:30PM – 8:30PM; June 7 & 9, 12:30-4:30PM; June 11-13, 4-6PM; (Showings) June 11-13, 8-9:30PM

Tickets: Free

Billed as an installation, Making Visible includes a series of free, open-to-the-public movement investigations and rehearsals at the main floor of the Marina Abramovic Institute West building. This “[process] of collaboration will be bare and unscripted, providing a unique opportunity for the public to take part in the birth of not only a new dance, but also a new collaboratively created piece of music.”

Folawole refers to this choreographic exploration as a “rare and inspiring journey,” and I can see why. Choreographing out in the open must be a whole different process from doing so in a more traditional rehearsal or classroom space. And over the first few days, Maffre has posted mini-logs on Facebook about the exploration process along with the audience interaction.

Day one included, “sketches of vocabulary sequence and displacement in space; development of one solo; early music sketches; audience was lively, curious and interested but reticent to move around the space.” So people, feel free to move around and explore the space and viewpoints! But maybe don’t get too wild.

Apparently, on day 2, “visitors were dedicated and sustained 2-3 hours attendance; invited visitors to come closer to the dancers/choreographer and accompanied them into the space; one visitor tried out some of the choreographic movements.” Now, I’m pretty sure that you’re not supposed to actually join the dancers in the choreography, but maybe if you’re so inclined, you could dance on the sidelines? Whatever you do, feel free to “observe, make recordings, ask questions, and contribute to the journaling (and ultimately production) of the installation.”

The final product will include a weekend of showings of the realized work along with additional solo performances by Folawole.

the author

Becca Klarin writes about dance. Her first stage role was at the age of four, where she dressed in a brightly colored bumble bee tutu and black patent leather taps shoes. She remembers bright lights and spinning in circles with her eleven other bees, but nothing more. Becca also has an affinity for things beginning with the letter "P", including Pizzetta 211, Fort Point, pilates, parsvakonasana, and plies.

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