Student Voices: Jennifer Payan

When I auditioned to perform in a work here at Mason Gross by guest dance artists Lee Sher and Saar Harari, I had never considered that I could actually work for them professionally. As with previous guests, I brought enthusiasm to each rehearsal, and I truly believe this energy and discipline were key to my success: I was invited to rehearse with LeeSaar The Company during spring break, and by the end I was asked to join them as an apprentice for the August 6 performance of their work Grass and Jackals in this year’s Celebrate Brooklyn! festival in Prospect Park.

We rehearsed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, constantly learning and creating material. Lee and Saar taught me to never let myself become complacent with my performance, because the bar can always be raised.

Lee and Saar incorporated the ideas of Gaga movement language, invented by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, into their choreography. I was new to Gaga, and I entered the apprenticeship with excitement but also an abundance of nerves. Eventually, I embraced my frustration, because I realized that from this uncomfortable place I was actually growing as an individual and artist.

The Gaga language takes the dancer outside the constrictions of classical form to find their own “groove,” which can be defined as one’s desire to move. This idea of connecting to my own groove and allowing pleasure into moments of effort or weakness had the most impact on my perspective of dance and choreography.

Ultimately, I learned that if I do not want to do something, it will not be done at its best. When I used this genuine source of pleasure to explore movement, I became much more satisfied with the outcome.

Posted December 2015