Editor’s Note: Recently we did a documentary based on the choreographic process for our piece “Itch.” We were able to catch up with our dancer Catherine to get her reaction to the choreography and her individual experience.
Usually I wake up in the morning left with a feeling of what I had dreamed about that night. Elated. Hopeful. Terrified. Violated. Rarely, I will remember the context of what brought on any particular emotion, but usually I wake up with a slight smile on my lips or clammy with sweat and with tears in the corners of my eyes. I have never stopped for longer than a minute in the mornings to think about my dreams before going on with my day as usual. This clearly was not the healthiest way to handle what my subconscious was trying to dredge up on a nightly basis, but I hadn’t found a way to sit down and think about or digest what it was trying to tell me.
One day in rehearsal with Full Force Dance Repertory, Angie started us off with an improv session relating to the theme of dreams and the world we visit while we sleep. She put on some music and we began to move. I remained pretty stationary, imagining that I was asleep in my bed and let my mind begin to wander to the dreamscape that I usually visit at night. Then Angie asked us to repeat the exercise using the same theme. This time I began to move a bit more fully, exploring what it felt like to put my thoughts and nightly experiences into movement through every limb of my body. Angie turned off the lights in the studio and suddenly my body was taking over before I had the chance to register what I was doing. My body started attacking itself, clawing at my skin, throwing myself to the ground, curling up in the fetal position.
After such an intense improv session, I was relieved when Angie suggested sitting in a circle to share our experiences. I sat in silence listening to my fellow dancers as I tried to put into words what I had just realized about my nightly experience: My subconscious is a vengeful thing, it likes to torture my body and mind while I am in a vulnerable state, unable to defend myself. After sharing my struggles and listening to my peers’ unique experiences, we began to choreograph the piece that is now known as “Itch”.
That first improv session is pretty indicative of my entire process throughout the creation and rehearsal of the piece. This was the first time that I delved into such a deeply personal and private subject matter through dance. This was the first time that I had the opportunity to tell my true story through choreography. The safe space of Full Force rehearsals opened all of us up to the opportunity of expressing the most private realm of our dreams through the physical manifestation of movement. Each time that I perform “Itch”, I finish the piece rocking back and forth on the floor, panting for breath, and drained of my emotional baggage that my subconscious usually uses as fodder for nightly torture. I am very lucky and grateful to have had this chance to explore, through my language of dance, an aspect of my life that has clearly affected me greatly, but that I never took the time to recognize before Angie and Kadeem gave me the space to do so.