The Next Choreography programme has helped me become more conscious on all levels: personally and professionally.
The first term to me felt mostly like a journey, where I was constantly questioning myself and what was around me. I started to read more, exploring new artists and works. I definitely understood that choreography is so much more than just dance movements put together in a sequence… I also learned about group awareness, new ways of exploring and creating movement and improvisation.
After January, everything started to finally sink in: all the new information and knowledge. However, I never stopped asking more questions. And possibly asking for harder and more abstract answers.
Having had the opportunity to meet and work with high profile artists was extremely valuable. You not only learn different perspectives of seeing things, creative approaches, but also get to know their career pathways and build connections.
I vividly recommend this programme to anyone interested in discovering more about movement, choreography, arts, bodies. And also, about yourselves and the ones around you.
I really look forward to the Next Choreography Festival on the 3rd July, see each other’s work and get feedback!
As part of the Young Arts Academy, a project for young people led by Barbican Centre, I choreographed a dance piece. Commissioned by Barbican, (UN)ONES was presented on the 10th May 2016 in the Fountain Room at the Barbican Centre, London UK.
(UN)ONES portrays how individuality can be suppressed in society. It shows a constant fight against conformity – From all of us, to all of us.
A group where one can stand out and reveal oneself. There are personal statements being presented: I am who I am, what I want to be and not what I am expected to.
I intended to convey my personal beliefs and ideas such as: gender equality; denial of social conventions and universal truths; the freedom of the being and one’s expression.
If you’d like to see the video recording of the performance, please click below!
(UN)ONES started to emerge from my inner will to fight conformity and to break through.
I knew I wanted a large group: 12 dancers so the sense of the society’s patterns could be emphasised. I also made sure I had an equal number: 6 female and male performers – gender equality. I looked for different individuals, with various backgrounds, and not just about their dance training, but cultural too. I ended up with dancers from Israel, Malta, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Malaysia and the UK.
I needed to have the soundtrack ready just before the rehearsals. Working in collaboration with a musician for a dance piece was really interesting. It was quite a challenge for me to find a mutual language we both could understand – but we did it! The soundtrack was composed and produced by Henry Bird, a third year student at The Guildhall Music&Drama School.
We had 2 days of rehearsals and, for the results I wanted to achieve, I had to condense quite a lot of information in a small period of time. However, we had a discussion in group about the theme of Individuality, how it can be suppressed in society and also about personal experiences. I believe that movement should come from an impulse of connection, from one’s truth. So the more the dancers could relate to the theme, the better they would embody it.
In addition, at least half of the members in the team didn’t know each other or had never worked together. Building group awareness was an extra task that I had to offer, encourage and which would be essential for the performance.
In terms of the creation of the movement, I worked in collaboration with the dancers. I had in mind the walking patterns, the intentions, the ups and downs in the narrative, etc. But I needed them to be them in this piece as much as possible. Therefore, they created their own solo and gestures that I directed afterwards.
The most challenging moment of this whole process to me was setting up the counts for each section and finding the most effective music cues. As this was *my first piece*, I realised loads of things to think about for a next time. But something that helped me from the start, was allowing myself to think that things change and that is alright. I might have had a pre-conceived idea, but once you have bodies in space, it’s pretty likely that you’ll have to adapt your thoughts to that reality. Questions and conflict come up and the interesting part of it is to solve them.
I worked with a brilliant cast, not just technically as dancers, but as people. I made very clear from the beginning that suggestions were more than welcome and we all helped each other. I also had the help of Kerry Nicholls during the rehaersals, a high profile choreographer, dance teacher and mentor. Kerry was a precious help and support from whom I learned significantly.
I’d like to mention how Next Choreography helped me grow, build up my curiosity and interest in seeing things from different perspectives. I felt I was confident enough to create this piece, take charge and actually start my future.
Last week I got to see an exhibition by Erwin Wurm in Berlin at the Berlinische Gallery, Museum of Modern Art.
The exhibition was composed by different works and the one I found more interesting was the One Minute Sculptures.
This work invited the public to create a sculpture with their own body, using the objects on display and hold it for at least one minute. Next to each object there was a drawing with a position as an example for the public. I started to create my own positions. Only after, when looking around me, I realised other members of the public were only doing the same position suggested by Wurm. In this moment I noticed the need for approval and allowance that sometimes people seek to do things. Or even the concepts of good/bad and fear that this can bring when exploring new ideas and experiments.
In addition, when doing these sculptures, I was paying attention mostly to what I was feeling physically and my emotions. I was tense, sometimes shaking when trying to stay in balance in certain positions and vulnerable. This made me wonder how vulnerable artwork and artists can be (or have to) in order to be seen and share a message.
The twin-title “Golden Hours” or “As You Like It” portrays a theatre play in dance. A meeting of a comedy by Shakespeare – one about an ideal world of the Forest of Arden into which lovers ran away from a corrupt court – and the 1975 album “Another Green World” by the musician Brian Eno. Right from the start we begin with two strong and powerful artistic references.
Lines by Shakespeare were projected in the background and the choreography was a negotiation of a concrete idea and its abstraction. Gestures and lyrical movement is quite a rare happening in De Keermaeker’s work. Along with the choice of this specific album from Eno, which is linked to pop music rather than with the minimalism one typically finds in De Keermaeker’s performances soundtracks.
The cast dance their complex entanglements thoroughly, containing disguised games of seduction, aversion, misunderstanding and foolishness. One is consumed by the depth and desire of a luminous but smoothly ironic world, whose language doesn’t need translation to be grasped, yet isn’t exactly mimed.
The song “Golden Hours” starts playing and eleven dancers walk in a hypnotic slow motion on Sadlers’ Wells main stage in an agglomerate facing the audience. The sportive outfit of the cast features within an absent setting with only a white spotlight above them. I found this scene to be one of the most absorbing images not only in this piece but also in the performance world.
The greatest part of the two hours performance was in complete silence. A call out for very intriguing issues from nowadays society emerged. And this issues could be, for instance, the concentration capacity of a person, the time spent observing artwork and performances lengths’ standards. On one hand, the choreographer offers the audience an opportunity for a meaningful reflection on Time. However, it might not been felt the same way by everyone, as some walk-outs from the audience would indicate. And so, perhaps, some also simply stayed from a sense obligation.
This work then brings up the question of Time and how people deal with it. It was not just a challenge for the audience but also a very ambitious attempt for the choreographer, abstracting a Shakespeare text into a silent score for dance.
Time passed very slowly in Golden Hours and title met De Keersmaeker’ intentions perfectly.
As part of my work for Arts Award portfolio I wrote a review of Walking Stories by Charlotte Spencer.
On 24th September 2015 in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park in London.
The group audio walk, Walking Stories by Charlotte Spencer is more than what it seems to be.
This piece is about movement, the language of the bodies in space and the choreographed activity to the music outdoors and in green public locations. The participants are also performers and there is an invitation to connect with ourselves and with others.
At the beginning we are given headphones and MP3’s players with the soundtrack we all will simultaneously follow through the hour-long journey. This start already made me feel a sense of belonging and as an artist I learned other ways of encouraging group awareness. A combination between instructions for physical responses, voice over and commentary encourages us to explore our senses and rethink about time and space. It is like your mind is tuned into a different frequency.
The people in the park who are not participating will only see a group of people walking together, splitting apart in random directions, running in circles, laying down on the ground, lurking behind trees, piling up objects, etc. It must be very interesting for those who happen to be there and I wonder what crosses their minds. While participating, I was really focused in my experience and on the tasks and I didn’t pay that much attention to the audience around me. I felt they could be part of the set.
From my experience the trance-like music, the voice over in our heads and being focused in the behaviour of the body changes the quality of time. Suddenly I find myself more connected with who I am and immersed in the nature. I feel I am actually living the actual present and it takes me somewhere else deep and makes me conscious about matters I never thought before.
By taking part in Walking Stories, I learned to be more aware of the people around me, aware of nature, aware of time and how we feel time passing; noticing and being more conscious of the fact that I am alive, in a certain place, in a certain time, doing something.
This is an opportunity to make the most of our own individual impulses as well as to collaborate.
This is the composition I made last week. The personal objects I chose were an empty bottle, a lighter, keys, a pen and a hair elastic. As an extra I picked the clips.
When I express myself artistically I tend to create in a very geometrical way. When I was composing it, my choices were not conscious. Only after I started to wonder why I had placed the objects in those specific places and connecting these choices to my personality and personal interests.
I really enjoyed analysing the other people’s compositions, seeing a bit of them in their choices and getting to know their perspective on the creative process.
Time is or can be uncomfortable.
Time is timeless.
Time is what we want it to be.
Time is a luxury.
Time is blood.
Last Thursday, Charlotte Spencer led a 45min improvisation session and fed us with suggestions like: exploring time, moving constantly, to zoom in and focus in detailed movements of our own body and also to move as slowly as possible.
Right after we did a 4min task of writing constantly and each sentence we wrote had to start with “Time is…”. The sentences above are the ones that caught my curiosity the most from all the ones I composed.
From my experience while moving, I found it challenging to adapt myself gradually and not in an abrupt way from one suggestion to another. After the exercise, I had a “click” in my mind when Charlotte shared her vision on how hard it can be to move as slowly as we were doing: because we focus our attention in such a small part of our body and in its motion, that its likely we loose the reference points around it; we stop seeing the whole picture and its easy to think that every move feels enormous and that we’ve moved considerably in space.
As a group, we didn’t know how long the improvisation session took. In the end, we supposed it would have passed around 15/20min. We were extremely surprised when Charlotte said it actually took 45min. It was interesting to analyse our relationship with time and how our notion of time passing when doing certain actions.
Last Thursday, Next Choreography had a poetry workshop with Ben Duke, based on his latest work, “Paradise Lost” performance.
I’d like to share the 3 poems I wrote from the tasks:
‘The long neck behaviour
The Blues opportunity
To challenge bravery.’
‘The unwanted commitments
The innocence beneath
her naive behaviour.
The hierarchy she must follow,
the youth that never lived.
the patterns never stopped.
The known yet not assumed, Guilt
in all the conventions.’
‘There is an odd smell,
Like an amputation or a nightmare
keen into self-resignation.
I should have ran from it
instead of drowning myself into this,
this pretended protection.
And they will keep preaching
“They love me”
And they will keep trying
Trying to drag me,
drag me to their praying circle
with no logical key.’
Last week we worked on the instructions I prepared. I wanted the participants to feel free, to allow themselves to feel the space and time, and also encourage them to increase their body awareness. I divided the score in 2 sections: the first part was more focused on each individual while the second was centred on the group.
In my perspective I felt the dancers translated quite literally the instructions into movement and it made me think that more than interpreting the instructions, they reacted to them – which I also found really curious and interesting.
I found some of their choices really compelling about the setting: the use of the benches in different positions and the spoken words.
After observing their response a number of times I realised that the sense of group and belonging needed to be emphasised so I decided to adapt a few things: changing some of the dancers’ positions in space so they could finish together as a whole instead of separated in the room by the end of the piece.
I feel really grateful for having had the opportunity to work on my set of instructions. It helped me considerably to develop my choreographic understanding and it made me more conscious about editing processes.
You can find the videos here:
Clip 1 – first version from the dancers
Clip 2 – second version after editing
Please find below the pictures of the original score of instructions.