Friday, August 26, 2011

Meet a Dancer: Meghan Riling

Meghan Riling joined Luminarium for its first show FRACTURE in October of 2010. She is currently one of seven Company Members in LDC, and continues to perform in the company's newest works.

Soo hello blog-readers, I'm Meghan.  That is, I'm the very tall redhead who has been dancing with Luminarium from the beginning of the time in which Luminarium has been dancing.  Kim and Merli asked me to write a blog entry, so welcome to my mind.  I want to share some of my thoughts regarding (a) the traits that I see tying together the company's works and (b) what it is like to perform in character in them.

Aside from the sweet and goofy people I've met in Luminarium, one thing that I've really enjoyed is seeing how Kim's and Merli's overall vision gets translated to individual pieces and very different performance spaces.  Distinctive lighting and large objects frequently serve to add drama to works created around accessible dance-plot.  These devices have helped the pieces in very different locations feel connected to one another.  In particular I'm thinking of these groups of things:

-Large spreads of fabric/color
   -the enormous paper square in Casting Shadows, Tearing Holes, first performed in a traditional dance concert
   -the bedsheet in Through the night (all you have is self and shadow) (traditional concert)
   -teal aerial silk used in Upon, first performed in an art gallery
   -the jewel-toned 80s party dresses popping out of Boston environments, in the short film everything but blue -- while the dresses are not one large rectangle, they are a large amount of soft but strong material

-Strong, bright lighting in mostly dark spaces
   -lamps in Experiment III (jazz on jazz) (traditional concert)
   -the narrow lane of light in Casting Shadows, Tearing Holes (traditional concert)
   -construction-site-style bulbs providing the main lighting for 4 separate pieces (art gallery)

I think that these two elements have made Luminarium pieces seem like they can be touched and felt.

But those things can be seen from outside, whereas I spend most of my time inside the pieces.  I have really enjoyed working inside of them because I've been able to work out what my characters (be they people or more object-like characters) are like and perform in a way that is in line with them.  Merli and Kim have given me a nicely long leash with this, which has made rehearsals and performances intellectually stimulating and enjoyable, as I am never more comfortable than when filling in a character I've helped to create.  

The piece where my standard stage personality comes through the most is everything but blue, in which I get to be a bit twitchy and awkward with a hint of shine.  When I perform it, I think of myself as going through a series of tableaus.  I see a gorgeous man from whom I can't move my eyes, and then I'm a small birdish creature avoiding predators, and later I'm a bratty girl who won't follow 'the rules.'  

On the other side of things, the piece that I was originally worried wouldn't have much room in which to develop a part was Upon | Within, as I spend a great deal of time not quite on or off stage, or being still on stage.  However, by the time it came to the performance, I felt that my physical body had enough of a connection to the light (a loose bulb of which I was mostly in control) that I knew what I was in the piece.  That is to say, I had some moth-like tendencies.  I'm glad that we'll be performing this again, as I think there are still connections that I have yet to make between my role with the light and my role as a dancer without it.

My newest, un-debuted role in Merli's new piece has been a lot of fun and very difficult in this respect.  I play a totally annoying homeless person, which has been a challenge in that I want to bring a certain amount of humor to the piece without disrespecting anybody.  It reminds me of something a man recently said to my sister after a person in a wheelchair was rude to her: "People in wheelchairs are just like everybody else -- some of them suck."  So I guess I'm sorting out how to be obnoxious in a way that is particular to my made-up homeless woman, rather than a way that people will think is a quality that I attribute to all homeless people.

In conclusion, here is a terrible joke:
What did the acorn say when it grew up?
Gee, I'm a tree!    

(Say it out loud and, when you do, remember that I am a high school math teacher.)