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“In the performance world, rehearsal seems to have a sacred side. It is a slice of space and time that should not be disturbed, or disclosed, and some people even talk about a sense of spirituality within it: “the mystique of the creative process, the quasi-religious secrets of the rehearsal room, the closed film set for those key intimate scenes, the tantrums and the tears.” (Baraister and Bayly, 2001, p61). Rehearsals are not to be told, somehow, and this implicit confidentiality can also be noticed while researching them: very few articles or books theorise a rehearsal process, and if there are a lot of information about particular directors with their own methods (especially in the theatrical field with great men such as Stanislavsky, Brecht, or Peter Brook), these writings only analyse rehearsal processes in order to understand the upcoming performances.

It is probably because of the appeal of a performance that we tend to elude the rehearsing part; but paradoxically, rehearsals would not exist without performances, otherwise these particular events of space and time would only be practice sessions: the idea of preparation and the state of readiness are the key-points of a rehearsal. (Baraister and Bayly, 2001)

Doug Risner, professor at the Department of Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations at the University of North Carolina, published an essay investigating on rehearsals, using experienced dancers’ narratives to establish an epistemology of the subject. He analyses different kinds of knowledge that develop in the studio space: the first one is the technical and practical knowledge that has to do with doing, knowing how; secondly, we have a propositional knowledge based on social assumptions, and defined as an interpersonal connection, knowing that; then comes the knowledge as memory, which happens when the dancer remembers either the structure of the piece, a musical cue or has an awareness of his body memory; on the top of that, we can add the knowledge of certainty, which is directly linked with the confidence of a performer. (Risner, 2005)

Applying Risner’s theory on our process, it means we are here removing one type of knowledge that belongs to the rehearsal process, and is important to its success: “the social nature of the rehearsal process in dance allows choreographers to understand that rehearsing is not merely dancing, but also an important means for dancers, as people, to make meaning, to satisfy needs, to exchange ideas and to share frustrations.” (Risner, 2005, p156). Studio time is a deeply social experience, because you exchange with other people and rely on them just as much they rely on you; some comparisons have even been made between psychotherapies and rehearsals, as they both continue as actual on-going encounters between individuals in small room: stage is a society, and so is a rehearsal. (Baraister and Bayly, 2001)

Therefore, the challenge for me will be to increase the development of other knowledges to overcome the gap in socialization, and make the dancers able to perform confidently with all that they need to know; we will focus on bodies, characters and musical cues, and any relationship on stage will be defined by the individual characteristics we would have been working on.”
Sources :
Baraitser, L, Bayly, S (2001) ‘Now and then – Psychotherapy and the rehearsal process’, Psychoanalysis and performance, p60-72, London: Routledge
Risner, D (2000) ‘Making Dance, Making Sense: epistemology and choreography’, Research in Dance Education, 1:2, p155-172

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