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So often the artistic process is an invisible one. Months or years of thought, experimentation, and revision culminate in a single evening on which to validate or reject all the work that preceded it. So often what seems an instant success is really the result of a process that includes some serious doubt and soul-searching. Given this general inability to glimpse the creative process, it’s a rare occurrence to witness a dance piece take shape and develop over time, on display for public observance, and to see it grow into its own and find its path from a simple idea into a fully-fleshed theory.

San Diego dance makers (and university professors, all of them) Joe Alter, Liam Clancy, and Eric Geiger started work on what they termed the Hybrid Authorship Project over a year ago in an attempt to explore what could result from a collaboration with not only other choreographers, but dramaturgs, neuroscientists, and a good dose of technology, too. I caught the first iteration of the process in its infancy as a solid trio conceived around Sushi’s tiny 4X4 stage in the middle of Bluefoot Bar and Lounge, complete with a soundtrack of billiards and clinking beer glasses.

Several months later found me at the Sherwood Auditorium in what I might call the “awkward adolescent” phase of the project. Sure, it had grown up a lot but in the process, it seemed a bit confused. A bit directionless, too many ideas rolling around in its head, somewhat impressionable, and lacking confidence.

So what a pleasure it was to return tonight to SDSU for my third look at the project to find a thoughtful young dance with the wisdom to peel back some more layers to get to a stronger, more authentic core, the patience to stick with itself and trust that a genuine voice would emerge, and the balls to go to the chopping board and walk away from what wasn’t working. It’s a tough thing to do, let go. True in life and true in art. But sometimes to grow, you’ve got to ditch the old skin. Maybe it’s not fully there yet. I’m still feeling a disconnect between the story the physical movement tells me and the words that accompany it. But now I’m interested enough to explore further.

What a unique opportunity to observe this journey and how satisfying to watch this work emerge. If there’s another manifestation to come, I hope to be there.

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