Posts Tagged: Choreography

Daguerrotypes

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Last week, I randomly came across a French movie by Agnes Varda, from 1975. I found some aesthetic and conceptual qualities close to my interests in choreography, which is why I wish to share it on our blog.

Daguerreotypes is a series of intimate portraits of the shopkeepers from the Rue Daguerre in Paris, where Agnes Varda used to live in the 70s. The pun in the title emphasises the unicity and at the same time typicality of each person introduced in the movie.

We first get acquainted with Mrs and Mr “Chardon Bleu”, so called after the name of their haberdashery and perfume shop, open since 1933. The contemplative attitude of Mrs Chardon Bleu conjugates with the quietness of the place, lost in repeated and desperately resembling days. We then meet the hairdressers, the butcher and his wife and daughter, the grocer and his son, the plumber, the baker, the concierge,…

 

 

Rue Daguerre. Paris

 

 

The daguerreotype process was invented in France and was the first practicable method of obtaining permanent images. Using a silver-plated copper sheet primarily polished and fumed to make it light sensitive, the surface would be exposed in a camera and chemically treated, rinsed and dried. The resulting image would be sealed behind glass in a protective enclosure, appearing either positive or negative, depending on the viewing angle and on the light. Daguerreotypes were very delicate and fragile objects, but also unique, due to their irreproducibility.

 

Ms Chardon Bleu

 

 

Likewise, each portrait in Varda’s movie is intrinsically individualised. The composure and focus of each craft as well as the consideration of the light and the decisive camera angles mirror the daguerreotypes’ characteristics.

In the first phrase, the artisans are filmed during the opening and closing of their shops, choreographed by their duties, in their casual conversations and regular activities. Soon the movie offers a repertoire of gestures. These appear as if natural and inherent to the bodies, through reiteration and practice. Each person then speaks facing camera about where they come from and when they arrived in Paris, their voices and accents adding another nuance and depth to the portraits.

In the second phrase, we are introduced to the prestidigitator Mystag, having a show in the café down the street. Each trick visually coincides with the recorded motions of the hands and tools of the shopkeepers. In an allegorical way, the dramatic tone of the magician narrating these movements lead to the glorification and highlighting of their expertise and their value for the neighbourhood.

By the end of the movie, Varda slowly unfolds a sequence of fixed traditional portraits, overtly absorbing the quality of daguerreotypes and merging all the layers which repeated actions can bring to expressions, bodies and faces.

Ultimately, this movie felt like a popular tale, based on a resolute attention to simple daily gestures and a musing pace, which triggered my interest the most.

I would be keen to probe these aspects, in the same way as Varda, calling herself a daguerreotypesse

 

 

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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.

 

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Jerome Bel – Gala 18/10/16

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
x

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And so we begin… Next Choreography 2016/17

Our third year of Next Choreography has begun!

We are super excited to be working with this year’s group of 15 young choreographers and our new facilitator Amy Bell.

4 weeks in and we have defined choreography (!), created solos connected to our choreographic interests, debated ‘uncreative creativity’ with Martin Hargreaves and watched Primal Matter by Dimitris Papaioannou as part of Dance Umbrella. Bring on the remaining 32 weeks jam packed with choreographic explorations, making and experimenting, and sharing through this blog and our Next Choreography Festival! (Save the date: Sat 8 July 2017!).

As Learning and Participation Producer at Siobhan Davies Dance I have been blessed to work with 27 dynamic, thoughtful, inquisitive young artists through Next Choreography so far, and this year is certainly going to be no different.

Watch this space for posts from our Next Choreography 2016/17 participants.

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Meet the group (minus 2 participants!)

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Excited about watching Primal Matter by Dimitris Papaioannou

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Post-performance discussions

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A review of AH/HA by Lisbeth Gruwez

A Tableau of 5 motionless dancers, are set on a wave of billiard green carpet, curving up against the wall. The amplified moment of stillness invites us to indulge the framing of their zany postures and abstained facial expressions. Their eclectic combinations of attire are standard to that of a Berlin charity shop ranging from mini skirts to a 90’s double denim ensemble. A pulsatile squeaking sound begins to reverberate, prompting a meticulously controlled bounce through the dancers knees on the spot. Imagine a noise and gesture that your joints would do having not ‘oiled’ them in 15 years.

As the sound ceaselessly continues, the dancers begin to shift their focal point to and away from us whilst minutely distributing the bounce they have so rhythmically harnessed, progress across their whole body.

Outsetting to recognise the bearings between each other, they collectively begin to react to one another and travel the space.

These transcending regroupings echo the absurdist mannerisms of scratched video game interactions between avatars.

The pace and quality of the gestures grow with the sound and as it becomes louder and more rapid, to what now could be compared to a broken mattress springing out, so did their physicality.

The squeaking has come to a close as they start emitting wheezes of air at random, dismembering into a chain reaction of episodes that revisit the whole experience of a laugh through the notion of the voice. Reconfiguring under a gleamingly yellow Belgian street lamp-floating central to the space – “We have travelled from day to night”.

The process has a yearning for its pinnacle point of nonsense as they attempt to fully articulate every style of laughter. Only to deconstruct what it is to laugh and juxtapose it with what it is to scream of pain. They regurgitate this motion until an atmosphere of angst has developed and the piece begins to descend.

The mood has straddled us in engagement as we face the exhaustion and hysteria of these two alternate extremities.

Taking the audience as witness, the dancers standing begin to lean into a tight mass caressing and feeling warmth for one another. Making their way toward the floor returning us to what they had familiarised us with at the start, stillness.

We return back to day time after this stalled moment and the sound has began to have a glitch within it, stopping at the pronounced sound–he-he.

With every glitch they lift their heads until they eventually stand up to conclude the song and the glitch follows through with a greeting of ‘Hello’.

The concluding song is Lionel Richie’s – Hello that has embedded in it a history of intimacy and ridiculousness.

Two thematics, I feel that most address the way in which we interact and censor ourselves now. The dancers have become athletes of their emotion and exercised ours by unpicking what it looks like to divide your body and its sound, in order we become aware of that frequency we all possess. The performance and song choice adequately questions thematic of interactions in our present day. Amplifying how we express ourselves at this point in time that is verging on to silent communication just as much as the exploration of how we laugh.

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