1. Video: Faye Driscoll dance rehearsal

    Emilie Stoll, a scholar in 92Y’s Recanati-Kaplan Program for Excellence in the Arts, interviewed Harkness Dance Festival artist, Faye Driscoll, for this week’s feature. Emilie will be attending Connecticut College this fall as a dance major.

    Sunlight streamed through a wall of windows at the Baryshnikov Art Center dance studio, illuminating Faye Driscoll’s rehearsal. In the middle of the studio, three female dancers and two male dancers were submerged in full body contact, using each axis of their bodies to lean, pull, and push, as an amoeba-like motion began to synthesize. Each dancer completely trusted the other dancers, providing necessary support for the group to fully experience the intense physicality of moving as one being in a seamless way.

    It was mesmerizing to watch the way the rehearsal progressed. The dancers maintained composure and a serious focus that allowed them to make minute adjustments to their movements until they felt secure in their partnering. Moments unfolded when a dancer would accidentally lose sense of his or her weight resulting in a slight group collapse, reminding me how dependent and trusting the dancers must be to remain a tight unit. Regardless of the occasional slip, there was never any hesitation to get hold of each other again.

    I appreciated how Faye would encourage her dancers on the cusp of falling to continue moving. She has strong confidence in her dancers’ potential and she does not hesitate to bring it out of them. The ambition during the rehearsal went beyond anything I was prepared to see. At times I unconsciously held my breath as one dancer spun within the amoeba while balancing weight placed on random parts of her back and shoulders.

    The overall interaction between Faye and the dancers was extremely developed and she has clearly created an environment of trust that allows the dancers to experiment and fail in order to make unexpected discoveries. Furthermore, the dancers never hesitated to speak up when confused or on a different page than another dancer. Faye takes an active approach to figuring out awkward positioning rather than talking about it. Observing the dancers inventing alternative movements or counterbalances was akin to looking inside a clock to see how it ticks – this was the creative process at work.

    At one point in the rehearsal, one of the dancers asked Faye what her intention should be while moving. Faye considered for a moment and then responded that she should be in tune with the sensations in her body, accepting the strenuous movements for what they were without focusing on looking “pretty.” She also asked that the dancers bring awareness to what was going on around them while letting themselves be vulnerable. She asked them to “see and be seen.” As the dancers integrated this desire into their bodies, the movement became so raw that I could feel what the dancers were experiencing; I could see what they were seeing and, in a way, feel what they were feeling.

    I felt very honored to observe a portion of Faye Driscoll’s rehearsal process, and grateful that the dancers let themselves be so vulnerable, making for a powerful experience for me. Faye and her dancers, as a company, emit a genuine, charismatic personality and they welcomed me into their fold. It is no mystery why the dancers give 104% of themselves to each other-they love their craft! The company is a perfectly cohesive group with great ambition and eye-popping capabilities. Faye Driscoll’s company will be performing in the Harkness Dance Festival at 92nd Street Y from Fri, Mar 1-Sun, Mar 3. I highly recommend catching a performance to witness the company’s one-of-a-kind style!