We’re back from the Easter break and had a really useful first session back starting to plan the Next Choreography Festival on 4th July. I was impressed and struck by the enthusiasm and energy that the whole group had to be fully involved devising the activities within the festival. It was clear to me what a strong sense of togetherness and community has developed between the group over the course of the last 8 months since the programme began.
Here’s our book of words for this week – it gives a good snapshot of that connectivity!
In the last session of term 2 we delved into the quality of presence and how that supports performance. We spent time a long time blindfolded, and then time sitting face to face with a partner just simply being and watching. Tasks that are perhaps challenging to sit with, but which require us to let everything else drop away and be as present and honest as possible. We finished by watching a few clips from the documentary about Marina Abramovic’s restrospective at MOMA – The Artist is Present.
Over half the group were ill this week. I was not well either, so our session was a little more quiet than usual. We talked about and played with ideas around participation – what ways are there of developing work where the presence and activity of the audience is essential for the work to be able to come alive. We spoke performances we had experienced where the participatory nature had worked really effectively, and experiences we’d had where it hadn’t. We wondered about what makes that interaction work so brilliantly in some contexts and not in others. We looked in a little more detail at 3 case study projects – my audio work, Walking Stories, Manual by Siobhan Davies, and the Performing Book by Janine Harrington.
Here is our book of words from our small, select session!
Siobhan Davies gave us the remarkable experience of Manual last week. I think Sarah’s description in the post below gives a pretty good explanation of what we got up to. Below is an image, link to a short video clip about Manual and our book of words from the session to give a flavour of what is all looked like.
Next Choreography went to see Wim Vandekeybus’ Ultima Vez performing ‘What the body does not Remember’ on 10th February at Sadler’s Wells. This was Wim’s very first choreographic work, back in 1987 – quite impressive for a 24 year old with no dance training and no prior choreographic experience!
This week during our session, we discussed the key elements that we’d experienced in the work – the quality in the movement, what it had made us feel, think, sense, how it was structured, what were the themes that seemed to be running through it. In response, 3 members of our group – Sarah, Isla and Emily G started choreographing something new. It was exciting to witness the energy and commitment in the room. Concentrated!
Here is our book of words from the session and a couple of pictures.
Below is a short clip from the piece, to give a context to what we were responding to.
Our book of words for the second session with Robbie Synge. A lovely long improvisation, a transportation into ‘presence’ and some fascinating conversations about why we bother with what we do. Deep! Thank you once again Robbie for being with us – we look forward to catching your new work, ‘Douglas’ at The Place, in April.
This week I had the absolute pleasure of welcoming Robbie Synge to lead our session, all the way from the Scottish Highlands. And we are lucky enough to have him next week as well. It was fascinating to hear him join up the dots between his love of skate boarding and golf as a child with the choreographic work he is making right now.
We dwelled a lot on what our lifestyle brings to the creative table, how much our location and conditions influence and impact the work we make. Robbie’s experience of working and living in the Highlands of Scotland is a particularly strong example of this. I was struck by how resourceful and independent he is – a feeling of ‘I can make dance work’ – even if I am on my own, without a studio, or anyone to film me, or anyone to talk to… He finds ways to create an environment which is conducive somehow – including making elaborate contraptions of his video camera fixed to a skateboard, attached to a pully that gets knocked by the stick he throws in order that it zooms in as it films the scene he has set up. (Or something like that!) A living, breathing laboratory. I’m not surprised he studied physiology at University.
I was inspired and touched by much of what Robbie shared with us yesterday. I enjoyed hearing his journey towards dance and my journey felt much more boring by comparison – not that it’s a competition! But I couldn’t help wondering how much his collection of studies and experiences which were perhaps physical but not directly dance related have brought significant richness to his current choreographic work.
I was reminded how important PLAY is in our creative work. It is easy for me to get very serious about things – perhaps I’m trying to prove to myself that I’m actually working, not just mucking about. But this session revealed the usefulness of playing – it is what stimulates interest and lets us know where our curiosity really is, rather than where we’re pretending it is!
We had a lot of fun making mess with objects. Setting up little experiments to test. Wondering how we could make an object move us…. I look forward to picking up where we left off next week.
We attempted making some inroads into this massive, on-going collection of questions
How can we make material that matters?
How can ideas become physical?
Where is the purpose? Is it essential?
What place does intuition have in all this?
Full-on stuff! But pretty important when we’re embarking on making choreographic work.
It’s 2015, and we’re back! This term we’re delving into making. I’m hoping our time will be packed with experiments and realisations. Our first session on 6th January focussed on choreographic structures. Tonight we’ll be thinking about content – creating material that matters. It’s important stuff.
Here’s our book of words from 6th January. We forgot to do it last week…eek! (so caught up in giving feedback to the members of NC who are performing for the Connect and Grow Private View this thursday 22nd January)