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Rosemary Lee – Caper    
Rosemary Lee – Working with Joviar Longo on a new solo CAPER? – working title

This solo was commissioned by Jovair Longo and created during Rosemary Lee’s Fellowship from ACE.


So we enter the empty room. I see the void of space and try to match it inside-full of potential rather than full of fear maybe? Joviar moves with ease and comfort, with an understated clarity, hard for me to grasp and chew or mould. I try to stay like the room and wait… I am like an excited kitten trying to bat the butterfly. I try not to blunder, stay measured, trust and wait but be alert, don’t miss a thing.

Ah- I see a thread through the body there, “try tracking where your pelvis goes as you move; try another part of the body and don’t tell me which I always know which he has picked because his body is like reading a Janet and John book. I am going to have to find new ways to get at layers of other stories.

Lets draw a pathway for different body parts to follow; start with one and add others on top to complicate the movement—do I want to get out of the comfort zone or should I just gently ruffle the edges of that place? It would be easy to snuggle up with this understated comfortable warm movement; harder to kick off the comforter and shiver. Is there a point in that? I am no hair shirter.

We have found a moment: moment one, the sternum spirals up, the pelvis drops directly down and the hand goes up. He looks like he is measuring the climate of the air, catching an impulse or thought, I can see the thought-intention in action. I get excited but try not to get high, lose my grip, bat the butterfly. Feet on the ground and dream on. Its only one tiny second of movement but it feels like the key to the dance. But wait, maybe I’m way ahead of myself here and I will fall down tomorrow and hit the tarmac or face another reality. I will chide myself for ever thinking this puny moment will ever amount to anything. Who do I think I am, what do I know? I resolve not to fall.

We have two moments now, punctuating a pondering walk. The shake of the sternum is a thought shaking him, the grasp of a hand is like the thought caught, the ricochet in the pelvis is like a thought marked.

I grasp another idea as he warms up, Jovair seems comfortable in the zone of the floor up to 3 feet, I ask him to explore this place with arms and legs parallel, again he is clear and simple. Just like those thought moments, little understated eureka moments 1 and 2; I try him dropping to the ground suddenly as if he cannot resist the impulse to be down there. This doesn’t read, I drop the idea.

Instead I have him walking slowly to the beat of one of the most beautiful of the movements of the sonata in E major (Bach harpsichord and violin sonatas—Glenn Gould and Jamie Larendo) and every so often he drops suddenly and covers over the track he has walked, scurrying, searching like a possessive squirrel or mad archeologist desperate to find his history. As I write this I feel the shadows of Graeme and Sue’s work—am I stealing? (Graeme Miller’s Language Lesson, Sue MacLennan’s Time Lapses both solos made for me as part of One to One) It could be beautiful once the material on the floor is shaped and intricately choreographed with arcs and ornament- very musically structured, double, triple time to the pulse of the adagio. Oh the heart strings go for me when I see it- just moments but the seed is there. I clutch a simple structure again, I have the dance so soon, am I a fraud? A beginner choreographer who cannot face a structure of more complexity than this?

Caper – we like that word, I try to explain what a caper is in the movement sense and he tells of the big fat ones at the Spanish deli at Borough Market. We talk of food, we talk of his history in dentistry, I try not to laugh, I always find the thought of being a dentist funny for some reason. I imagine him working with elderly patients each evening and dancing during the day. I cannot imagine how dentistry can creep into this dance. He tells me of his other life teaching Brazilian folk dance and we talk of bottoms shaking after a jolt of the pelvis. I can’t get bottoms out of my mind then after seeing moment two from the back.

I take my favourite fallow furrow pattern on the floor that I have never used. I ask Jovair to makes simple journeys very formally like a court dance up and down the space in time to the music. He walks awkwardly trying to pull the music inside his frame but unable to. It ruffles the edge, laps at his feet as he carefully tries to walk in step – double time, minum time, simple patterns measured to the Bach. Beautiful, light and charming but could it be so once he does absorb this music? How can I help keep him just there on the edge? Jovair says he is not funny but his timing and ease are perfect for that understated delicious lightness that is not in your face but just… ruffles the edge. Maybe I am onto something here with this motive that is appearing… don’t get ahead of yourself, or should I go leaping off to make connections willy nilly through everything I have done so far and feel a smugness as I wrap it all up with some rational framework. I could hit the tarmac again or cling onto that framework stubbornly throughout the process. Stay like the room or grab the idea for dear life.


This was written after the first one or two rehearsals with Jovair. We then had quite a long gap before resuming the process and making Studies 1,2,3 and 4 performed at Jackson Lane October 2001 as part of an evening of Jovair Longo’s and Rick Nodine’s work. The title Caper disappeared due to the affect the horrors of Sept 11th 2001 had on us both when we resumed making the work that very week. Most of the structures I discovered above did indeed form the frameworks for the studies which for the most part where improvisations within very tight structural frameworks which were spatial, rhythmic and qualitative.
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