Next Choreography 2015-16

A Memory

As we gradually approach the end of the academic year, I thought I would share a moment from earlier in the Next Choreography course (from the 28th February to be exact), that had particular poignance for me.

After exploring devised movement during the session, where the dancer worked in collaboration with a fellow class member to improve on an individually devised dance piece, we wrote down in our notebooks a stream of consciousness that summed up what we had felt during the class, each sentence starting with the words “I am going…”.

Hannah volunteered to perform her devised movement work to the class, and did so beautifully. Without having heard my written stream of consciousness, Charlotte suggested I read my internal dialogue as a narration to Hannah’s movements. We started off just performing our separate creations at the same time, not necessarily paying much attention to the other’s work. However, the more she danced, the more observant I was of her accents and of her moments of stillness, and so I adjusted my tone of voice to fit her movements. By the end we were entirely in sync, moulding our own creations to make this epic improvised choreographic piece.

I was surprised and genuinely awe struck by how well our two art forms fitted together. Without having any relation to each other’s work all evening, we had somehow created a piece that combined spoken word and dance, that could have been devised in collaboration from the beginning of the night. I wasn’t the only one to notice it; the entire class was buzzing with excitement by what we had all just witnessed! I left the session that day feeling this incredible sense of satisfaction, and yet I felt blown away in equal measure in experiencing what I had during that session. We were chosen to perform together totally by chance, and somehow ended up being exactly what the other needed to make our pieces whole.

This was only one of the many times Next Choreography has made me think so existentially, but this particular memory I know will stay in my mind for many years to come.

The stream of consciousness that I read out is as follows:

I am going on a journey, only analogue scribbles of scrappy lines. I am going down a path of handwritten nonsense, forward, backward, dip sideways. I am going between the lines, unsure if they feel it too. I am going down linear strips of elephant grey, brown, there white circle, safe. I am going to move, between them, no? Yes. I am going on a ride, far beyond this place, above anything physical; I am going nowhere, yet straight, and hoping all go upwards.

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Erwin Wurm Exhibition

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.

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Objects for One Minute Sculpture

 

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A hive of activity

I realise that I haven’t written for quite some time on this blog, and now we are in the 3rd and final term of this year’s Next Choreography. We are starting to work with lots of attention towards the Next Choreography Festival on 3rd July. As much as wanting to share the choreographic work from some members of our group, we are keen that the festival celebrates the process-led, experimental nature of Next Choreography.

Today we’ve been making a draft version of a visual map that exists to document, archive, extrapolate and thread together the range of experiences and processes that each member of the group has been through – as both independent journeys and a collective body.

The studio is a hive of concentrated activity today – I shall certainly miss this energy, curiosity and commitment when we finish in July. What a privilege it is to spend time with inspiring group of women.

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“Golden Hours (As You Like It)” by Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker

Golden Hours

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.

Maria Rodrigues

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Guest Artist – Lucy Suggate

Last week at Next Choreography, we had the pleasure of inviting choreographer and dance artist, Lucy Suggate to join us. Amongst her varied free-lance work, Lucy is the dance artist working with Siobhan Davies Dance on the Dancing in Museums project so it was great to have her with us to share some glimpses of her own solo practice.

I particularly love inviting guest artists in to our sessions at Next Choreography because it gives me the rare opportunity to both join in myself with the responsibility of leading the session, and allows me to observe the group working from more of a distance. Last week I witnessed everyone dancing with an impressive combination of abandon and concentration. I felt quietly proud.

A few thoughts from Lucy that have stayed with me:
How does material meet with space?
How can we attend to many things at once?
How might we notate/make a score for what we do?

Lucy will be with us again in a month, I look forward to seeing what might develop from that time together.

 

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Vertical by Le Patin Libre

Watching Le Patin Libre perform was an incredible experience one much like encountering a flock of birds glide into the the freedom of the sky. The 5 performers each bringing an individual presence when entering the clean slate of ice, seeming to act as one moving effortlessly around the ice like a pendulum clock arms swinging from side to side with refined seamless speed.

Filling the surface with patterns and designs, bringing an aspects of playing or competing with the audience each one reacting off each other inviting the audience to feel included. Introducing themselves though their skating, individually showing there character and style. Even though the ice and weather was cold they keep your full attention, eyes dazed at the swiftness of their performance so much that it makes you want to watch it all over again.

There are some humorous parts, bits wear you are filled with nervous tension as they leap, turn and dance across the ice. By the end of the piece the once clean slate of ice now consists of many configurations and trails, sliced, slashed segments of ice. The blue and pink lights enhance the amazing surrounding architecture of Somerset House contrasting with the white, grey and yellow of the costumes. The lighting making the piece sometimes unreal, bold, dark, cold faced figures advancing towards you then a delicate skater drifting across the surface of the ice. The sounds created by the skates cutting and slicing though the ice creating percussion as well as movement and the patterns curved into the ice each aspect brought something to an inspiration for performance.

The performance length was just right, suiting the weather perfectly on the day I happened to watch it. However the only criticism I might have for future performances is the length, which I think should be extended or stretch out when being performed in inside spaces or warmer temperatures. Apart from this there is nothing I disliked about the performance and I would highly recommend it to anyone. From watching the Vertical it gave me a completely different idea of how two art forms can be made into one seamless piece not even that the ice – skating and dancing came out at different parts but they seemed to combine the two so well that it created a new art form. What also interested me and inspired me was the use of personality that came though with in the performance from each artist. How they portrayed themselves though out the dance is something that I really want to look into and bring into my work a so feel it brings the audience so much closer to the piece and leaves them feeling like they actually know who was on the stage not just a butch of artists performing a piece to entertain an audience.

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Next Choreography Film

Two weeks ago, on the 11th February, I brought in my camera to film the session, in order to create a short documentary piece. Outside of Next Choreography, I am studying on a film and media course, and so I wanted to merge my two passions together, dance and film, by creating a short piece documenting a typical class at Siobhan Davies Studios.

On the week that I filmed, we were using lots of objects as part of the class, exploring and experimenting with ways that our own personal experiences can shape the way we use the items around us. This was great for what I wanted to capture, as my aim was to record the way that individuals in the class work in the space; it meant that I had the opportunity to focus on one person at a time, whilst they were in their own creative world, as well as then being able to see how the Next Choreography members worked together during group activities and discussions.

I had never filmed anything like this before; the unpredictability of what was coming next, both physically and mentally for the dancers, was incredibly exciting to watch, and it meant I barely put my camera down! I thoroughly enjoyed the process in which I filmed and later edited; choosing the right footage to go into the final cut, as well as sourcing the music and making decisions about the colour grading and contrast were all important factors towards making the film as good as it could possibly be.

It would be interesting to see how the film would have changed if it had been filmed at a different time of year. Perhaps in summer, with natural light streaming in through the windows, the film would have a whole different ambiance? I suppose the only way to find that out would be if I were to make another film…

And here it is! I hope you enjoy it.

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Review of Walking Stories by Charlotte Spencer

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.

Maria Rodrigues

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Composition of objects

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Last Thursday, we were given a task to experiment with composing 5 objects we brought from home, as well as items Charlotte had brought in for us to use i.e. paper clips, post-it notes, pencils etc.

I didn’t really think about what I was composing but I knew I wanted to started from the corner and let the composition ‘grow’, after some tweaking and re-arranging I realised that this composition was a very strong reflection of me, my mind and my view on my life in recent times.

When everyone was finished composing we all looked at and discussed each others and found there was a sense of personality and an individual way of thinking and creating in everyone’s composition. Even though I found mine to be personal to me more than a reflection on how I work, I have realised that everything I create is always personal to me or something that is important to me. When creating a physical work, I like to work from the outside in, which shows from when I started working from the corners in this picture.

While looking at my composition, keywords were thrown out and there were a few that really stuck out to me: Frantic, placed, danger. I found it interesting that ‘placed’ was suggested between frantic and danger because even though I placed everything carefully down so that nothing would fall or move, I found the only objects to be purposely placed were the post-it notes and hand gel. As you can see, they are separated from everything and not connected to anything, for me this was a representation of myself. A feeling of vulnerability but also safety as it is separated from everything but cannot be harmed. The charger and lead, water bottle, and vaseline were a representation of my life, symbols for things that keep me alive, things I rely on, (the charger and lead – to stay connected and attached to people, the water bottle – health, vaseline – cleanliness, looking after myself), the paper clips being attached to the lead and clip is a representation that these are things I never want to let go of or lose. The pencils are the major thoughts and situations that invade my mind, even the green folder attachments represent the loose ends that are in the back of my mind but are still clear to me.

It’s honestly really scary to me how much the composition told me about myself because during the creative process, it was all subconscious and once I stopped and had a really good look at what I had been doing, it was only then I saw how much it related back to me. This task felt was very therapeutic and has actually helped me understand myself better surprisingly.

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Objects Composition versus Personality

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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.

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