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Tess Dworman

first performed on June 11, 2011
Brazil, Brooklyn, NY
performed three times in 2011


Brooklyn, NY


“Legendary Children” was the name of the show I did with Mariana Valencia. This solo still doesn’t have a title. The problems it addressed had to do with improvisation and choreography. I made a dance that tried to avoid both of those things.

Improvisation is often used to make choreography because interesting movement can come about when you don’t have a plan for it. Improvised moments are then captured and choreographed or “set.” With this work, I tested improvisation to see where it would bring me. I had no other plans. I decided to reject making plans and connections, just this once. However, I still went to a studio once a week for two hours for five months. A vaporous structure emerged.

A lot of times, movement improvisation has a style when it is performed. You can see when a performer is improvising because of the look on their face, their timing, their behavior, etc. Not always, but a lot of times. Improvisation in performance can be beautiful and it can be deadly. I didn’t want the audience to know that I was operating in the vulnerable state of not having a plan. I didn’t want them to think about that, so I delivered the movement as if it was set material.

Sometimes, when I reused an idea or when I cheated and set something that seemed interesting (which could just mean repeating it twice), it would immediately become poisonous (it wouldn’t seem interesting anymore). Sometimes it really saved my behind. What also saved me was honing my ability to redirect my focus. All of this rerouting and abandoning of large and small plans and delivering as if I knew what was going on spun me into a vortex of a new movement language. (New to me.)