This time we’ve got a really great piece for you from the inimitable Rachel Stirling and Kelly Pavao! I was there at Bambloozled in 2011 when they performed it, and I’ve rarely seen such great energy from the audience during a performance. You can hear them hollering and clapping along the entire time!
What did you want to express with this choreography?
We definitely wanted to do a paired solo piece. I can’t remember how the idea of fans came up, but once it did, we glommed onto it and shortly thereafter decided that we wanted to do a piece where we were “church ladies” all dressed up fancy with our fans. Great idea, right? We’ll have this popped out in no time…HAHAHAHAHA.
The goal was to create a routine using fans that gives a perspective other than the typical burlesque routine. Kelly and I were dancing on the stage at bluesShout in Boston, fanning ourselves because it was so hot. I got to thinking that when folks think of fan dancing the association is with really sexy, provocative dancing. I thought it would be so inspiring to create a badass blues choreography with women and fans that doesn’t resort to sex appeal. And the church lady concept was born.
Why did you choose the song for the piece?
Choosing this song was a loooong process. We knew what we wanted the piece to be, and we knew what kind of a song we wanted for it, but it turned out that it was a long road to finding a song to fit with that vision that was both the right feel, tempo, and length. We listened to a lot of music [read: A LOT] before finding this song, but once we heard it, we knew it was going to work for what we had in mind. [Thank goodness!] It also then allowed us to further refine our idea into letting the dancing take us over. You know, because dancing is awesomesauce. Also definitely still with fans.
Yeah, it was an incredibly long process. And when we had just about given up after a month or so of scouring artists and songs and asking for suggestions and nothing being just right, Mike Marcotte djed Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold On Me.” We were bopping around and then suddenly looked at each other in amazement and excitement. We’d found our song.
What other dances influenced or inspired this one?
To the youtubes! We definitely watched copious amounts of videos to pull ideas for solo movements from, but probably our most notable source of inspiration was the James Brown church scene from the movie “Blues Brothers.” We really wanted to work trampolines in, but we settled for the over-the-back air step. (Just before the 2 minute mark in that video clip.)
How did you go about combining your concept, song choice, and influences to create the finished choreography?
Things blended and grew with each new piece that fell into place. We started with our “big picture” idea [Church ladies! With fans!] and decided on a song [Etta James FTW!] then further refined our concept [Cannot. Help. Dancing… Music. Too. Good!] and pulled inspiration from outside sources [TRAMPOLINES!! No?] and tried to make them work. When working on the actual choreography, we started with movements or interactive ideas that we wanted to work into the piece, found the best place for them musically, and filled in other movements around them. Things got moved around or thrown out–you have
to be flexible and willing to make changes and/or let things go. At some point, the piece kind of becomes its own thing. We created a monster. And she’s glorious.
Once the right song found us things just sort of fell into place. We already had sections of choreography we liked that were inspired by the concept and video clips, we were just waiting to find the song to see where they fit in. We then filled in the transitions and did a lot of tweaking to get a finished piece we were really proud of.