Wesleyan seminar: Remembering “As Good As She Was Beautiful”

I am co-organizing Remembering “As Good As She Was Beautiful,” a reunion weekend seminar at Wesleyan University in May 2012. This is the seminar description:

Join dance majors and special guests from the class of ’87 as we revisit, re-embody and attempt to re-stage “As Good As She Was Beautiful,” a dance piece choreographed by Molly Rabinowitz in the spring of 1987, and performed in the spring senior thesis concert.  Five dancers – Wendy Blum, Grisha Coleman, Clarinda Mac Low, Sue Roginski and Kim Sargent-Wishart, plus the choreographer – will share the discoveries and challenges of remembering and relearning movement, 25 years later. This seminar will include video of the original performance, live performance, and a panel discussion.

We have online access to the piece, transferred from VHS.  It’s from 1987. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who.  We will have a day of rehearsals and then we’ll present what we are able to reconstruct in that time and discuss the process of remembering and all that it brings up.  Initially I conceived of the project as a re-staging of several dance works from my time at Wesleyan. We eventually narrowed it down to this one, the one most people were excited about and remembered most clearly.

I am curious about many aspects of this project, like: how remembering movement might trigger other memories?  how we will negotiate the process of collaborative remembering and restoration? how will the movement feel at 46 that I did so easily at 21?

The piece was part of Molly’s thesis on dance and popular culture, and deals images of women and girls in fairy tales (like the one the title comes from), daytime television and TV ads. We wore high heels, danced with giant boxes of Tide laundry detergent, put on lipstick and a fur coat, and played a kid’s game (A my name is Alice) with a hi-bounce ball. There is a recurring soundtrack of us gossiping.  And all of this was very tightly choreographed, with intricate partnering, repetition and variation. I wonder how the piece would read now, in 2012, were it to be formally staged (which we won’t be able to do fully)- would it seem dated? Does it still refer to popular culture? Has much changed in the popular media’s portrayal of women and girls?

links to collaborators:

Wendy Blum

Clarinda Mac Low

Grisha Coleman

Mini follow-up 22 August 2012

A few photos of the rehearsals. That’s us 25 years ago on the big screen.

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