My class is privileged enough to be working with Bobbi Jene Smith as our Senior Bow choreographer. Bobbi is a beautiful creature and a legend that many in my class grew up hearing about, being taught by, and if we were lucky enough, even got to see her perform once. After an illustrious career with Batsheva Dance Company, Bobbi returned to New York this year and has honored us by teaching our Gaga classes the past semester. It was an immediate "no brainer" for all of us when someone suggested that we work with her for our Senior Bow, and thankfully she agreed to the project.
We’ve begun our rehearsals with Bobbi, and so far, as expected, it has been a wonderful experience. Everyone in my class is extremely excited for this piece to hit the stage!
Here are some Q&As about our Senior Bow with the beautiful lady:
VL: I know that making a piece for a large group of dancers can be a demanding but rewarding process, and for many choreographers it is a huge learning experience.
Working with my class, what is most exciting and/or challenging about choreographing for twenty three dancers?
BJS: I am so inspired by what all 23 people bring into the room. I'm moved by what they already contain and offer even if they are unaware of it. The largest challenge for me is attempting to make enough space for all of that to live and be seen.
VL: There are several ways to approach making a new dance. Often the choreographer has clear expectations of a piece with set phrase work and counts, and other times they are more interested in invention and collaboration with the dancers.
So far you have seemed to take the latter approach, what has prompted this for you?
BJS: During the process, the approach has changed a couple of times, but in the end it feels that although the movement and pictures came from my body, it is now the movement of the piece and therefore came from everyone.
My hope for "Keepsake" was to create something from the inside out. To create a moment for the seniors to see each other and to have time to recognize that this could be the last time dancing together. I wanted to give space for them to feel the passing by, not in a heavy way but with a sense of gratitude for the time they have had together and to celebrate what lies ahead.
VL: Some of my classmates have known you for many years as a teacher and mentor, and the rest of us have grown close to you in our Gaga classes this year.
How is it to work with your students in such a close, creative collaboration, and what do you want us to take away from our last time dancing together as a collective?
BJS: I feel honored to have had so much time this year to be able to listen and learn from the class of 2016. I have learned so much from seeing them move through the year. For me, it only makes the process of creating more relevant and detailed.
My hope? ….That your memories from the past four years will always be dancing inside with you, with you, next to you, in form, content and emotion. I hope that your experiences past and future can always create dance. Fearlessly graceful, endlessly thankful, wild and wild and wild and delicate at the same time.
Written by: Victor Lozano