Penelope Freeh

In Residence: II and III

Posted by on Nov 25 2015, in Uncategorized

  1. 11/22/15

I am blind in the studio. I find that my body seizes because my brain is full of details that I am terrified are going to slip through the cracks. I think I need the rest of the day to organize my calendar and thus my restless thoughts.


I am still in Cassis, France, such a gift of time and space. Funny how real life still finds a way to intrude. I keep reminding myself that all the things I am engaged in (even if I am slightly over-committed) are such great privileges to be a part of. All of my projects are connected with live music components, and interfacing with material at that level, even if a work is pre-existing like Four Saints in Three Acts, well, it is a privilege as I said.


But I digress. I am here in the studio, continuing to work on my new piece with London-based dance artist Donna Schoenherr. She has come and gone, leaving me with assignments that feel, in terms of efforting on solo like this, like defying gravity. But there are many things that I know, at least in terms of what needs doing. Donna and I have identified twelve sections that form the skeleton for this new work. Twelve because of numbers on a clock and the poetry of how time so fundamentally affected Muybridge’s time-defying photographs. I think that we have done such a good job in terms of hitching our horses to the source material. We keep coming back to reexamine what is in his body of work. Once we are clear, we launch away, far away sometimes, into our interpretive world of dance and image making. So I have a good under-pinning here. I just have to keep my wits AND continue to allow the full range of my imaginings to bubble up.




And today, breakthrough. The day began in a rush, a crush-cram to get to the yoga class that is in the studio where I rehearse. I was grumpy, slightly nervous and trying to rise to the occasion of being inevitably conspicuous. The class was lovely and got me out of my head, a very welcome necessity.


Jack set up his easel nearby and finished a painting when I finished class. We went for my usual vending-machine coffee at the nearby grocery, a discovery three weeks ago that continues to make my day every time I partake. Moccacino Decaffene!


Jack filmed a solo I’ve been maintaining since Donna left, and then I worked hard on another one, toward the end of the piece. I got a pretty good though modest start on it yesterday. The great thing is I have vocabulary from the entire piece to draw from. The hard thing is, well, it’s hard for me to be in the studio alone.


I’m learning that I work well when I keep repeating what I have so far, from the top and with the music. Today I also placed an obstacle in my way; it will eventually be a haystack. That helped. I made geographic decisions and it informed the movement, as did the title of that section, Throwing Self on Heap of Hay, which is so magnificent, taken verbatim from Muybridge himself. So I threw myself around and that felt good and, a little bit, like something I recognized.