In 2013, I enrolled in Phil Schaap’s Jazz History 101 course at Lincoln Center’s Swing University. There are many great quotes from this experience, but one sticks out at me today. Before playing an old jazz record, Phil Schaap said this:
“I’ve listened to this record, arguably, more than anyone who’s ever lived on this planet.”
It’s a funny thing to think about— Could one, perhaps, have listened to a song more than any other human?
Well, iTunes has counted that I’ve played “Impossible Soul” by Sufjan Stevens 64 times (partial plays are not counted). That doesn’t seem like much, but the track is 26 minutes long… Here’s a bit of math: 64 plays x 26 minutes = 1,664 minutes. 1,664 minutes divided by 60 = 27.73 hours.
Therefore, as of today, I’ve officially spent a full day of my life listening to “Impossible Soul.”
Whether or not I can put myself in first place, these are the horrifying statistics that make the labor-intensive experience of choreographing so silly sometimes. My company and I have completed our first week of rehearsal for our new piece, Not So Impossible. We began by tackling the longest section, playfully nicknamed “Pep Rally”, and continue working our way towards a completed rough draft. By the end of the first rehearsal, my collaborators are endlessly humming the tune, and we’ve all begun to settle with the thought that, yes, we will hear this song many more times before the month-long creative process is over.
My collaborators have brought great patience, professionalism, and positive attitudes into the rehearsal room. Some are familiar faces (Gabriel Winns has danced for me for several years), and some are brand new (I saw Aimee Smyke dance for the first time just a couple months ago). They leave their 9-5 jobs to rehearse, they run from school to make it on time, and for that, I am very grateful.
I am allowing the piece to take shape in the room— in past experiences, the rehearsal experience has been so compressed that there was little time for process. To that extent, this rehearsal process (40 hours with the group) seems luxurious… But when you consider that we’re creating a piece that’s 25 minutes long, the ratio of rehearsal hours to minutes of choreography becomes more daunting.
At the end of Week One, 10 minutes of the work are complete. Only 15 to go!