Dance. Work., a collaborative duet with Karl Rogers, sets up conditions for working at dancing: from 9am to 5pm with an alternate lunch structure, for five days in a row, in a public room, with a transient audience. In this dance, we live inside a structure based on repeating increments of time. In each hour, we have ten minutes to build a solo; by the end of the week, we will each have a five minute solo. Each hour, we improvise for ten minutes. Twice in each hour, we do a minimalist water cooler dance to a Doris Day song. We do this dance first as a duet and then as a solo for Heidi. Each time Heidi dances this dance without Karl, it breaks her heart.
We are wearing navy suits. The space is bare. The room is at least 15 feet wide and 20 feet deep (more desirable). Two gray metal desks are placed side by side, about three feet apart, one wastebasket sits between the desks. Each desk has at least one drawer. The drawer contains sharp yellow pencils, lunch and Twizzlers. On each desk there is a ledger, a pair of reading glasses, and a pencil. These items are lined up in their correct places. An office clock hangs on the wall behind the desks. Each desk has a chair. The audience views a small room through the door, or a more open space from an area marked off.
We spend time writing in ledgers. We think. And we watch the clock. The solos accumulate through the week. We do not talk to each other; the silence accumulates.
For each hour of the day, with the exception of the lunch hour (structure below), the schedule is approximately as follows:
1 Karl and Heidi, desk dance to Mel Tormé
2 Karl and Heidi, duet improvisation
3 Karl and Heidi eat Twizzlers to Mel Tormé
4 Karl big dance improvisation to popular music, Heidi on break
5 Karl and Heidi water cooler dance to Doris Day
6 Karl and Heidi write at desk
7 Karl on break, Heidi big dance improvisation to popular music
8 Heidi water cooler dance to Doris Day
9 Karl build a solo, Heidi think
10 Karl and Heidi build a solo to Michael Wall
11 Heidi build a solo, Karl think
12 Karl and Heidi watch the clock
The lunch structure involves one person eating a peanut butter sandwich on white bread and a piece of fruit, while the other person dances a score we call “(in)habit hell.” The eater gets 20 minutes to eat and a 10 minute break. In “(in)habit hell,” the dancer improvises until he or she indentifies a movement habit. This habit could be a specific movement or a movement idea (for example: a twist at the waist with oppositional reaching of the arms.) The dancer solidifies the habit by doing it 25 times. The dancer creates each one of a long list of variations on the habit. The list of variations is posted on the wall of the room, like an office memo, and has been derived from classic choreography texts. Each dancer works on a new habit each day for one half hour. The dance is an investigation of habit, structured as a list; it goes nowhere.
We are interested in feeling what it is like to perform for exceptionally long periods of time, to work on a dance as if it is an office job, to test our own endurance as dancers. As seasoned performers, we are used to working at dancing. But we are used to long rehearsals and short performances. In Dance. Work., we would like to flip the nature of our dance lives: perform all day and go home at night.