Sunday, September 6, 2009

We Slayed the Dragon. Her Name Was Imlay.

Week 2 is over. Why are there 7 days in a week? My body was crying by day 2.
Did I mention that the filming suffered a set back? Well, after 2 day of shooting 'Statics' at Imlay, we were evicted and told that the building was condemned. It was a crushing blow to the entire project. It had taken so much work to schedule each week of shooting around the cast members many other obligations, and it seemed likely that Opus Jazz would be defeated.
Ellen and Sean pulled every string and used every connection that they had to fight the eviction. This was the perfect location for 'Statics' and we had already done so much work that would be lost. But we forged ahead and filmed some of the non-dancing, or Interludes, at other locations while many great people fought to get us back into Imlay for our remaining 2 days of shooting.
On Thursday, just as we wrapped on filming 'Improvisations' we all got word that we were let back into Imlay. We had Friday and an extra workday on Saturday to finish shooting. We were all thrilled that we weren't going to lose all of the amazing shots so far, but then it hit us, we had to go back to Imlay.
I didn't want Imlay to be condemned, but I was dreading dancing there again. To call in hazardous would be the understatement of the decade. It will be the craziest place ever danced in. Seriously.
When we perform Opus Jazz with NYCB, it doesn't require much of a warm up. It is social dancing without the normal ballet technical demands. The opening section gets you lose enough to get through the rest of the ballet. 'Statics' is the only section that calls for full force, "balls to the wall", "give every thing you've got", kind of energy. So it was only fitting that we shot it in an abandoned warehouse with lead paint chips on the ground, an uneven dirt encrusted cement floor, and ceilings with pigeons stooped, with a penchant for pooping right where you had to lie down mind you.
I have never been so filthy in my life. I've been dirty. I was once a little boy with a love of dirt and fire. I have swam in muddy streams and set myself on fire. None of which came close to the level of filth that I came home covered in each morning. ( I did mention that these were overnight shoots that went from sundown until 5:30 am right?) If you've never spent all night dancing in a condemned warehouse with some of the craziest male dancers in the world...don't.
In 2 days we did manage to film the entire section. We all hurt. We all wanted to cry, bitch, moan, kill Sean and just take a shower. But somehow we didn't. Well we did take a shower, or at least I did, I can't speak for everyone else.
Sometimes a crazy experience is good for you. It challenges you in ways that you assumed would break you. And when they don't, you emerge stronger, wiser, and sometimes covered in lead paint chips.

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