Looking back on the year of Next Choreography, numerous sessions stood out to me but one which I found particularly eye opening was a session with Ben Duke in December 2015. The session explored a kind of journey and path way to choreography. Through the session we used different stimuli to trigger others, first we looked though books and magazines and picked out a photo/image that personally stood out to us. From that image we wrote a series of poems and words that captured it. The final poem was a longer more detailed one with the instructions of having to be written in the first person and to include a feel for the five senses. This then became the information that was used to create a piece of choreography.
What I found interesting and captivating was the process in which the choreography was produced and that by the end there were so any different options and ways of looking at it. The fact that the poems were not written with a purpose of producing another piece of work from but just what you saw or interpreted from your chosen image made it easier in some ways and more meaningful to then use the material to create a piece of choreography.
One Poem produced from the session:
Spell, Hear, Touch, Taste, See
I capture the traveling journey
full of representation and sectors of life
documenting it in irregular black and white squares
hearing the silent stare
watching the tension of pen to paper
touching the cold, solid object
tasting the warm-hearted movement
continuously doing, watching, hearing, tasting, feeling
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We focused more on poetry in this session with Ben Duke which I found really interesting. We created three poems, one inspired from a chosen object, and the other two were inspired by an image.
My third poem was inspired by an image of earth.
We had three rules before making this poem:
– It had to be in first person
– It had to be made in relation to the image
– We had to consider the five senses
‘I am a twister of clouds, crashing together like waves.
I am space and the sky. I have no limitations.
Spirals of white intimidate me, surround me.
When the deep, luring blue confines me, I relax. I can breathe.
It is fresh, there is no cold nor any heat.
I am isolated. But not forever alone.
There are frightening wisps, they sweep me off my feet.
I am caught. I am swirling. No way out.
I am being swallowed whole by this clashing of white and blue. Light and dark.
I see an outline.
I feel calm. But I can’t feel.
I am a twister. A wave of crashing clouds’
We had to turn one of our poems into physical movement. I found this difficult as I had chosen this poem that I had written with the consideration of showing the atmosphere. I thought it would be easy as I felt my poem was quite atmospheric, but I actually found it quite difficult and couldn’t work out how to show the atmosphere so I gave myself three keywords to help me with the process: twisting, crashing, clashing. I found it challenging and enjoyed it but I wasn’t entirely pleased with the outcome of my physical movement.
One thought that Ben Duke shared with us, has really stayed with me: “These poems are fiction, but let’s imagine they tell us something about you.”
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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.’
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I can’t quite believe that we’re already over half way through the first term of this new year of Next Choreography. But then, when I look back, I am reminded of how much we’ve done, seen, experienced and discussed. We’ve had Sanjoy Roy in to talk to us about writing about dance; we went to Farringdon NCP carpark on the opening night of Dance Umbrella to watch Of Riders and Running Horses by Dan Canham/Still House; we went to The Place to watch Ben Duke performing his solo work Paradise Lost (Lies unopened beside me); last week Ben came in and shared some of his working practice with us. We got to experiment with being as absurd as possible and making lots of weird noises as well as ask questions and learn about some of the intricacies and pervading curiosities that Ben is grappling with. We briefly grappled with him. I think it was strangely liberating for us all!
Last night the group came prepared with pre-devised movement scores/written choreographies/sets of instructions to exchange between each other. In groups of 3-4, they had an hour to prepare a performance from the instructions that they received. Then we watched and discussed how it was to interpret instructions and how it was to watch others performing your vision – what was unexpected? new? If we didn’t see what we had planned, did it matter? If we were to do it all again, what might we do differently? Lots of food for thought and delightful surprises.
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It’s been really lovely to start to get to know the new Next Choreography group over the last two sessions. We’ve dived into the deep end and I’ve already set them homework! But I’m confident that they will rise brilliantly to the challenge. This evening we have the pleasure of inviting Dance Critic, Sanjoy Roy to come and deliver a session about reviewing and writing about dance. We will be going to see Ben Duke’s (Lost Dog) solo show, Paradise Lost tomorrow evening at The Place theatre and Dan Canham’s (Still House) Of Riders and Running Horses next week as part of Dance Umbrella. So tonight should get us limbered up for watching, talking and writing about what we go to see.
In the mean time, here are a couple of photos and our book of words from our time together so far.
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