CoLab in Photos: The Process of Creation

"The project displayed here today is not an exact realization of the project I had in mind two months ago when I first began this journey. I had planned to photograph the rehearsals of each choreographer, and display them sequentially and grouped piece by piece, at the final showing. Garnet and I worked together to get in touch with the choreographers, and start moving forward with clear schedules and set routines.

Equipped only with my camera, I approached my first rehearsals from a photographic perspective. Adjust the camera settings for the high speed movements and low studio lighting, angle to focus on the elegant jumps and turns, and aim for an aesthetically pleasing photograph. I was ready to photograph an instant, to capture a moment in time, and to isolate the beauty of a second from its often plain surroundings.

But dance is something altogether different. Dance is about its own context; it is shaped by its surroundings and it is malleable to the touch of both the choreographers and the dancers. My set list of rehearsal times shifted by the moment, and my neatly laid out list of choreographers was soon irrelevant. Musicians joined the ranks of choreographers; choreographers joined the ranks of dancers; and dancers the ranks of musicians.

The process of creating a dance piece is not a set, orchestrated, seven predetermined days of creation type progression. The focus shifts from the when and the what – my original understanding of this project – to the more vital whom.

Perhaps before I even fully realized this, I added a “Meet the Performers” component to the project. Each individual dancer would write a blurb about their background in dance, inspiration for their involvement in their particular piece, and their part in CoLab, to accompany a meticulously chosen photograph taken at a rehearsal. As this sub-project grew, and as dancers eagerly awaited their own turn to share their story through pixels and words, I began to fully understand the process of dance, the impermanent nature of the art that sees the movement of the human body as inexorably tied to the human experience.

I am honored to have been able to work so closely with such talented dancers and musicians, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have experienced the purpose of dance. I began this project as an observer; I present it to you now as a participant."

Ayelet Pearl