a little bit of time with Anisa Tejpar and Hanna Kiel

I love watching rehearsals, not just a run of a performance work in a rehearsal, but the dynamics between collaborators, the body language of artists as they chat, analyze a moment, stretch, plug a device into another device, shuffle papers and ideas around. 

When Anisa Tejpar invited me to watch a bit of rehearsal and write about her upcoming show "in time", I knew with this rehearsal being part of her technical residency at Dancemakers, that I would be in for a lot of this kind of action, the movement surrounding the performance, as much as the movement in the performance.

Video is being tested and arranged and timed. The composer is present taking notes, the dancer paces and chats with me, the choreographer calmly slides through the space. A network of white fabric hangs in tow pieces from the grid hinting at butterfly wings, albino stained glass or facets of a jewel. The projections break and pick up again over the seams and spaces between. The air is charged with an urgency but no seems particularly stressed out...this is the world of a technical residency, when you have the time and space to figure things out and the excitement of feeling the successes and the gaps as it comes together. 

"in time", by Hanna's and Anisa's account really is a project that formed over time and just in time for both of them. They met over a year ago to chat about possibly working together, not quite sure what that would be. Anisa was thinking of commissioning a full-length duet, Hanna was feeling drawn to making a solo that drew inspiration from the work of a housewife. When they chatted, they realized their ideas and artistic desires could actually be realized together.

"I had this idea about a woman's solo but I hadn't found the right dancer. When Anisa approached me it was clear. Anisa is the perfect dancer for this. She is good at making things happen. I am good at coming into it." says Hanna.

"We complement each other that way." Anisa says.
Anisa Tejpar

At this rehearsal they run the final section for me. John Gzowski's music is minimalist and emotionally provocative without being cloying or manipulative. The notes and harmonies and the choreography each have a precision but do not fall in step together, which creates a spellbinding effect.

The suspended set and its projects create a fractured view and Anisa herself is partially obscured for much of this section. It is not jarring or disorienting, but rather gives the feeling that you can never see the full truth. Even with several angles, views, interpretations of the same moment, none gives you a complete picture. Something is always hidden, unexpressed but still happening, privately.

Anisa and Hanna speak about the intimacy and privacy of the process, of hours of talking, sharing their experiences: being part of immigrant families; the devastating impact of losing a parent; the roles and mantles of being a woman and wife.  Hanna's initial idea of "a housewife" became fused with something much more personal.

"I haven't had any process where we've talked so much about personal life...so many tears and emotion in the process. Everything came together [choreographically, artistically] with that experience together." Hanna explains.

Anisa continues, "There's a kind of serenity, even in the crazy part. With solos you have to lose your mind in order to remember why you wanted to do it in the first place. Hanna is very respectful, she doesn't nitpick the details, she lets me figure it out."

Hanna and Anisa have worked together before in ensemble choreography, where Hanna is quite forthcoming with corrections and details. Her eye is very specific, choreographically speaking, lots of movement, lots of detail. Anisa describes the difference between the two experiences as the difference between being the physical embodiment of Hanna's imagination and being the embodiment of an "us", a fictional composite that bears striking resemblance to their personal experiences.

Anisa moves with an ease and softness to hard-edged movements and extreme shapes. She exudes the interior world of an old soul that contradicts this ease. This combination of qualities is mirrored in a video image of a parachuter who seems to fall into a rectangle on the floor,  delineated by tape, the dancer's "house". Parachuting requires bravery and release. So does a solo show.

As Anisa says, "I had to do this now. When else am I going to this? I hope people come and they like it, but ultimately I just had to do this for me, to let this out."
This stellar dancer has just three shows of "in time". Don't miss it.

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all photos courtesy of Anisa Tejpar.


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