Penelope Freeh

Lunar Musings

Posted by on Feb 28 2016, in Uncategorized

Today I hope finish Moontides, my new work for Alternative Motion Project. It’s been a long time coming, and I look forward to closing the gap. The piece is in three sections (I’m trying to decide if I want to title them; I think yes) with the second being the unfinished bit.


I am working with a great group of eight dancers. So great in fact that I double cast the central duet. That’s what I will finish today and unbelievably, it’s to the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. I mean, in real life, I would almost never choreograph to a vintage rock song. But in this case it just felt right. The stars aligned.


Originally I wanted to play with the song in rehearsal to help generate movement. All along the duet was to be inspired be the idea of Eclipse, so of course that song came to mind, as a playful way to bring in the word. But then somehow it stuck. For one thing using it ignited the dancers, sort of set them on fire, and the dancer in me recognizes that phenomenon as one that only happens in response to certain music. I could not take that away from them, nor from myself. For good or ill, this song now lives in my dead-serious piece about the moon, tides and gravitational pulling.


I just decided, the sections will be called:

I. Water

II. Eclipse

III. Umbra


There was a major eclipse this fall. I was in To Kill a Mockingbird at The Guthrie at the time so, great access to balconies. I watched for a good while the reddish-black dark spot making its slow progress with the Mississippi just below, aglow with ambient light from the iconic Stone Arch Bridge. My city, well used. (Well, Minneapolis to be exact, a hop, skip and a jump from St. Paul.)


For several days afterward folks asked one another where they had been. Inhabitants of houses on whole blocks set up lawn chairs in the streets and took it in, an almost once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. My friends kept their two-year old up. I love that. These things are important, to mark, to take note of, to acknowledge, to witness, to say you were there when…


I don’t know what all this means in relation to my piece and my progress with it other than to acknowledge the journey and the process. I started Moontides on Sundays in the fall, and I am finishing it on Sundays in winter. It will premiere just before the official start of spring. I guess the connection is about marking time, taking a moment to record the progress of something. Usually I operate with head down, busy, busy. It’s good and important work to come up once in awhile, to reach higher, breathe in the thin air.