I worked all this weekend project managing one of the continuing education weekends that the Professional Development department does. It was nice: I carried a lot of equipment and got to chase people down about actually paying for said weekend, met lots of interesting people, got to go food shopping with someone else's money (my favorite! So many cheeses!), and sketched. Besides the fact that I was underground without windows for two days it was a good way to pass the weekend and get paid for it.
On Saturday night I went to a dance improvisation performance. It was...interesting. If nothing else it reinforced the fact that I have opinions about improvisation. A couple of pieces were extraordinary- one guy tied himself to a chair with his shoe lace and eventually crushed the chair by falling over it so many times. He clearly had a clowning background and was wonderful. Eventually one of the audience members tried to help him with the shoe lace and he kept trying to tie her long, blond hair to the now decimated chair. Here's why it worked: one single, clear idea that was engaging, developed over the course of the time, and had a bit of mystery- "what's going to happen next? The chair is in pieces, is that the end or no, no, he's trying to put it back together....!" There was a clear reason to be watching.
The final piece was a duet that involved both dance and speaking/acting. That was great because they were clearly listening to what was being said and done, they kept bringing back both topics and movements that had happened before, and both the dance and the text was at a high enough level that it was entertaining to watch/listen to on its own as well as reinforcing the other.
Ones that didn't work- a self indulgent, far too long solo wherein the woman blinked a lot (intentionally) and talked about tea- which was clearly because something needed to be said and what else was there to say? It felt like a send up of beat poets but sincere and just bad. Also, if it is going to be billed as a dance performance? Please move. I'd be willing to watch someone stay perfectly still on a stage if they had a good reason for it, but this? I'm sorry- no.
Today, however, I had a SINGING LESSON. Which was awesome. I just love my singing lessons. Particularly because we keep working on things that I am so scared of. I had my gamba with me because we had consort this afternoon (awesome- with a violone player as well. So much fun, such ridiculous clefs, I love reading off of manuscript notation: "Is that a smudge, a quaver rest, or a note?") and Jilly had me not only sing and play at the same time (Super Scary but also so. awesome. I kept holding on to notes and just rolling around in the interval. Delicious.) but also do chords and sing at the same time, identify where in the key I was, and sing on scale numbers. It's all stuff that I feel like I should be able to do and should already know down pat because of all of my music school training- but I feel like I don't so it is scary and I lose confidence quickly. We did some singing in harmony and then started on a jazz tune- "Day Dream" I think it was called. It's got a bunch of crazy chord progressions but I learned it and sang it in tune within about 5 minutes. Woo! I'm going to keep working on it this month and figure out how to play the bass line on the gamba at the same time.
It was a gorgeous, sunny, spring-like day today. Beautiful. So I took the opportunity to take a nice walk from Highbury and Islington down to Angel in order to get to consort. Such interesting shops along that road too.
After consort I met up with a friend of mine from the acting improvisation class that I took last month. He is starting up a theatre company and is looking for collaborators for the music. We'd talked really briefly about it at the weekend but talked much more fully about it over "coffee" (hot chocolate with marshmallows) today. I'm going to a rehearsal on Friday to meet the rest of the troupe and see what they've come up with so far. Our initial discussions make it seem like we're very much on the same page, so hopefully that will turn out to actually be the case!
I went to a contact jam this evening because my choreographer/dancer friend Ellie has been telling me to come and it was cool to watch and I played a bit, but mostly I didn't really feel like improvising for a whole group of people that weren't listening and communicating with the music at all. There was a guitarist there and I jammed with him for a bit which was great, but ultimately I just felt really out of place. Which is too bad.
Anyhow, all things considered? A brilliant day.