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A reflection on Work In Progress from Jody Weber, Artistic Director, Weber Dance

Below is note from Jody Weber, reprinted with her permission, in which she reflects on our three weeks together on Work In Progress. Boston Street Lab couldn’t have asked for a better performing arts partner, and we learned so much from Jody and her company about how dance is rehearsed and what dancers need to get in their work. Sincere thanks are also due to Maggie Husak, a member of Weber Dance, an urban planner, and a Boston Street Lab intern, who made this connection possible. From Jody Weber:

As Artistic Director of Weber Dance, I am enormously grateful to the Boston Street Lab for their work partnering us with 15 Channel Center Street and creating Work in Progress as an ongoing public art experience. Having three weeks in a beautiful space to focus solely on process was an enormous gift. Managing a nonprofit is challenging and time consuming and I often feel frustrated by how much time I have to put into administration compared with the time I have to spend on art making. This includes finding rehearsal space and raising the funds to pay for it, organizing the company around times that are available in rehearsal studios and coordinating their available times to make it all work. For three weeks I was able to focus solely on the project and answering the artistic questions surrounding its integrity. We made tremendous progress during this time- probably the equivalent of multiple months of work on our normal schedule.

I am also an educator and helping the community connect with art is a major concern in the way that I present projects. Opening the rehearsal process to the public helped me to understand how little people know about the creation of choreography. Questions for visitors often revolved around when the “performance would start” or why we didn’t “have costumes.” I was grateful to Sam for helping people to understand what a rehearsal looks like and reminding them that they were watching a process. The dance making process is frequently awkward as dancers search to connect and understand movement physically, intellectually and emotionally. Months of practice lead to the polished mastery you see on the stage. It seems that it would be a worthwhile endeavor to find ways to help the public understand what this process entails- certainly learning “steps” is part of the process, but there are a vast array of other concerns such as timing, weight exchanges, facings, spatial arrangements, qualitative development, transitions and simple time spent on conceptual issues. The choreographic process is a lengthy one and this project will have traversed over two years of preparation before it premieres in its entirety. So, I think that the work the Boston Street Lab is doing to reveal this process to the public is extremely important. If ever given the opportunity to do this again, I would plan a more detailed explanation of the process of dance-making to go with daily descriptions of what we were working, perhaps helping observers to know what to “look for” in a rehearsal.

In the end, I feel that this project was a win-win situation for everyone involved. It was wonderful for my dance company, an excellent use of an un-leased space that would otherwise sit dark, and an extraordinary opportunity to connect the public with the art making process.

Thank you Boston Street Lab- I wish you nothing but huge success with future projects and I am happy to support you in any way that I can.

Sincerely,
Dr. Jody Weber
Artistic Director, Weber Dance