Posts By: Stella Rousham

Reflecting on the Festival and Next Choreography

And so the end of Next Choreography 2016 -17 has come, and what a year it has been !

The Festival was a vibrant, welcoming and slightly hectic day of dance, creativity and ummm cake … lots of cake. I was taken aback about how open minded and willing to participate the audience were, especially throughout the ‘welcome dance’ and the interesting lift experience.

I am overwhelmed by what I have learnt and achieved on the NC course at Siobhan Davies Dance, and so grateful to have this enriching opportunity. If you are interested in creating, meeting new people and up for a challenge I would highly recommend the NC course for next year. It is so much more than dance and choreography, so don’t let a lack of experience put you off – we had people from a whole host of different backgrounds from drama to art, which only made our experience more valuable. My perception of dance and choreography will never be the same again and I am so glad for this !

Thank you SDD so much and I can’t wait to join YAAG next year.

 

Festival 2 Festival 3 Festival 4
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Next Choreography Festival Rehearsals – With Martin Hargreaves

The NC festival rehearsals are in full swing, with only 3 weeks to go ! We have be running all over the Siobhan Davies building: from dancing in the lift, the changing rooms, the parlour and even outside in the court yard (let’s be grateful for the sunny weather over the past few days !). The Festival is looking to be a busy day, with a huge variety of choreographic pieces, art work, soundscapes and installations. The audience will also be welcomed to get involved with a workshop and several participatory pieces.

The NC cohort have also been working on an ensemble piece with guest artist Martin Hargreaves. This is focussing on the principle ideas of Signature, Theft & Translation and to what extent are these possibilities or what happens when we use these ideas within dance or choreography. Martin asked us to all devise a short phrase of movement, words or drawing which represented each of these words. Surprisingly, the greatest challenge for us as we approached this task was defining these words. Many of us soon realised that our personal ‘signature’  within movement, is perhaps also theft; we acquire gestures and habits from others and subconsciously are always ‘stealing’ –  we can never dance in a vacuum, as such. ‘Translation’ we decided felt less intentional or destructive than ‘Theft’, which to us symbolised taking movement or art that isn’t ours. Not simply copying, but also claiming ownership of it. Problems surrounding cultural appropriation were also stirred up with the idea of ‘Theft’ and how certain dance styles become appropriated by the mainstream media, with little regard to the original origins. Subsequent to devising our individual three pieces, we then worked in groups to combine our work. This lead to even more layers of watching other groups, recreating, remembering and recollecting their work, until we had several ‘meta’ works, all of which are intricate copies, translations and memories of other people’s work. And yes, it made our brains ache too when we did it!

The NC team have one more rehearsal with Martin this thursday before the dress run in two weeks time. I am interested to see how the piece will be finished, and if there are any more layers can add to the piece. By it’s nature, the spontaneity of the piece is a key element, so I am hoping that it won’t be a ‘finished’ or ‘polished’ piece as such, but rather a continuous exploration, even on the day itself.

If you’re keen to see this work, or simply have a passion for creativity, dance and community make sure you come to the NC Festival on Sunday 9th July at Siobhan Davies Dance.

Look forward to seeing you there !

Thank you,

Stella

Photo by Gorm Ashurst

Photo by Gorm Ashurst

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Copy and Pasting images in movement – With Lea Anderson

Pictures in fashion magazines look weird enough. But what if you cut off half the picture then recreated it ? This was the main focus of our NC session today, led by the amazing Lea Anderson.

Initially, the task seemed simple – look at the picture, copy it. Soon enough we realised the intricacy and precision involved in copying an image – the focus of the subject, the angle, the position of the feet, hands, shoulders, the expressions. To add to the complexity, the photos had all been cut and pasted in various ways – some were just the faces of models, others a knee and a hand, one was just feet. This left us with the freedom to decide what to do with the rest of the body if it was not specified in the photo.

The most startling result of this session was watching how different everyone one’s responses were. We worked in pairs, and everyone followed the same set of images in the exact same order. Yet, each pair has such completely contrasting ideas and methods of copying. Despite this, we could all identify the images each pair did, and when one pair were stuck and asked ‘Which picture comes next?’, we all knew exactly where in the sequence the pair were and which picture came after it. The images could be clearly seen in each pair but the transitions and context of them were completely individual.

This idea of sequence and identifying patterns has left me wondering at what point does one image end and another begin ? Can we ever copy ? What is it about each image that made it recognisable in the different pairs ?

Thank you Lea !

Stella

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Rauschenberg and dance

Ace

‘Ace’ –  By Rauschenberg

The Rauschenberg exhibition opened on December 1st at the Tate Modern- everyone has been encouraging me to go see it because he worked closely with practitioners and choreographers like Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown, so I thought I’d take a look. Whilst I thought the exhibition its self was a bit formulaic and busy, Rauschenberg’s work is really innovative and refreshing – constantly working with new ‘combines’ like colour, texture or even dance.

What interested me most about the exhibition was the way he used choreography in an unexpected way – choreographing objects and sound rather than dancers. One memorable aspect was a huge pool of murky water, which bubbled randomly ; simultaneously creating choreographed movement of splashes and a soundtrack of the water. His paintings also seemed to evoke images of dance and choreography, the awesome piece named ‘Ace’ was structure from 5 panelled canvases with what initially appeared to be random splashes of paint. However at times the boundaries of each canvas seemed to be ignored and to me this really resembled the structure of dances or scores of music with the different sections that are separated but related. I was also struck by the way his work seemed to encompass improvisation, reminding me again of the scores we created with Seke, with his performance piece named ‘Open Score’ involving tennis players, using the vibrations and reverberations of racquets to trigger the lights to flash and later movement.

Overall, Rauschenberg is highly recommended exhibition for dancers and artist alike. There’s so much crammed into the exhibition, with so many different approaches and medias for creating work. The only problem I had with the exhibition was that it was very hard to hear the sound from the videos of the performances and dance works, which was a real hindrance.

Stella

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Improvisation Scores with Seke

I see this map nearly everyday and on the way back from Next Choreography. It always stood out to me because it is so short and uncomplicated compared to the other tube maps. I’m not sure why, but today it reminded me of the improvisation scores we created last week (1/12/16) at NC.

Just to clarify, a score could be any rule or structure used in improv, for example you can’t stop moving. We decided it would be a good idea to create a score where all the dancers either had to be in eye contact with one other dancer or have their eyes shut, easier said than done, that’s for sure. We had more than one score, just to complicate things – like laughing if you heard someone else laugh or trying to go up or down at the same time as the other dancers (very difficult with your eyes shut.)

Going back to the image, the white circles with the line between the two for some reason,  reminded me of trying to dance with my eyes shut and blindly searching for someone to make eye contact with. When dancing, we somehow had a sense of where we were going and how to get to each other, without the need for vision.

Thank you Seke for the eye-opening session, hope you feel better Amy !unnamed

Stella

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Jerome Bel – Gala 18/10/16

Gala Cast
Gala Cast

Colourful, fun – Gala (Photo Josefina Tommasi)

 

On a cold, dark autumn night, Next Choreography had their spirits lightened by Jerome Bel’s ‘Gala’ – performed at Sadler’s Wells. It certainly wasn’t your average Tuesday evening – with wacky vibrant costumes, uplifting music and light hearted humour; Bell explores the individuality of dance, stereotypes within dance, whilst also celebrating the sheer pleasure dance can bring all of us. Despite the chaos that appeared to be unfolding on stage, it is clear that the cast were meticulously selected to ensure a perfectly diverse array of dancers (and non-dancers) – from the bounding ballerina to a sassy six year old to an old man with braces and a surprising sense of rhythm.

Opening the show was a series of images of different types of stages – puppet show, amphitheatre, West End theatre- you name it, the lot; although I did begin to think the whole show could just be pictures which made me die a little inside with boredom, when the show began to unfold it related well to the message on stage – everyone has their own way of doing things, every one has their own stage, everyone has their own talent, no-one is right or wrong, no talent is better than another talent.

Highlights of the show included when the entire cast all swapped costumes, watching a 70 year old man tying to copying a six year old dancing to Miley Cyrus and everyone’s interesting attempts to Moon Walk like Michael Jackson. The show was precisely timed so the audience were just on the brink of boredom before the section changed suddenly. It was both predictable and exciting at the same time – who would the cast copy next, what style will they do this time ? The most poignant moment was also when a young disabled dancer stood up out of his wheelchair, although this also made me feel a bit uncomfortable – was it incredibly patronising to him when the audience applauded and whooped? This is where I am left very uncertain, and many questions hang over my head such as; why is it acceptable to laugh at some of the dancers but not others? How do you choose a diverse cast, what do you look for ? How much of the show was actually choreographed, how much was improvisation? If it is choreography, is it the true style of the performers ? Inspired by the pictures at the beginning I was left wondering how different would this show be on another stage- I am sure if it was in a hall it would definitely look like a wedding reception with all the family dancing.

Overall this show did truly perk-up my week and most importantly made me want to get up dance ! It would be great to see again but with a different cast, and new a set of talents.

Stella
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