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 !
Photo by Gorm Ashurst
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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 !
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As one of the Next Choreography participants who will be presenting their own work at the Next Choreography Festival on the 4th of July, I’m beginning to really appreciate the complexities of producing something worthwhile!
My exhibition will focus on the lack of female choreographers and creative artists in Britain, examining why we have so many young women in dance training, yet a glaring absence of female choreographers.
Over the next few weeks, I will be interviewing various inspirational women in the Arts, including Siobhan Davies and Jude Kelly and gaining an insight into how these women got to where they are. For me, the chance to create this work is hugely important as it is a subject I am very passionate about, and as a young woman who wants to be a Choreographer and Artistic Director, I aspire to emanate such figures.
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Over half the group were ill this week. I was not well either, so our session was a little more quiet than usual. We talked about and played with ideas around participation – what ways are there of developing work where the presence and activity of the audience is essential for the work to be able to come alive. We spoke performances we had experienced where the participatory nature had worked really effectively, and experiences we’d had where it hadn’t. We wondered about what makes that interaction work so brilliantly in some contexts and not in others. We looked in a little more detail at 3 case study projects – my audio work, Walking Stories, Manual by Siobhan Davies, and the Performing Book by Janine Harrington.
Here is our book of words from our small, select session!
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Siobhan Davies gave us the remarkable experience of Manual last week. I think Sarah’s description in the post below gives a pretty good explanation of what we got up to. Below is an image, link to a short video clip about Manual and our book of words from the session to give a flavour of what is all looked like.
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Last week we were lucky enough to have an exploration of Siobhan Davies’ work Manual. The workshop consisted of giving one person laying on the floor instructions to stand up. Sounds easy enough?
Me:’Ok so, bend your your knees’
Partner (laying on the floor): ‘how do I bend my knees?’
Me:’By lifting them up?’
Partner: ‘I can’t just lift my knees, what else do I have to do?’
Me: ‘Engage your stomach muscles, keep your pelvis in line. As you gradually lift your knees the base of your feet should start to rest on the floor while your knees are coming up towards the ceiling.’
Partner (STILL laying on the floor): ‘Ok that’s much clearer, now what to I have to do?’
The exercise carried on all the way to standing in a similar pattern, as I slowly tried to give my partner clear efficient instructions to eventually reach a standing position.
The experience, was somewhat frustrating but a good laugh too. I learnt a lot from the workshop especially about how much of our body we have to use to do what we do so naturally as our daily routine. My patience was tested, but I also reflected gratefully that I had a body that was mobile, and could take part in these daily movements so effortlessly.
As I thought about how aware I had to be in my body while doing this exercise, I remembered all the times I’ve been on a train in rush hour where several people were getting cross with me because I wasn’t thinking about my rucksack on my back. As I had been standing on the train close to people forgetting that I also had a big rucksack invading others peoples space.
I have also been one for knocking things off of shelves in shops by accident, because I had not been thinking about the Rucksack and extra space I should be aware of.
After reflecting on last week, I have still felt grateful for the ability to move everyday. But I have also been much more aware of my Rucksack!
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As my feet sink into the wet ground I leave behind the comfort of my home. My skin begins to numb, and I feel suddenly awaken by the ice piercing through my lungs. Dropplets of green air fall onto my skin, I can almost taste the moss, and I am excited, happy. The still white obscurity envelops me, space has finally become visible, stable, still. And so I let it carry me, and suspend me in a vast, reassuring silence. All that is left is my breath dancing with the vapour of the tree. I am no longer here, but I feel everything.
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The Next Choreography group had their first guest artists this week, and none other than Siobhan Davies and Charlie Morrissey to share some of the ideas and processes that they went through in the development of their work Table of Contents. Here are a few snaps from the session to give a glimpse of what we got up to.
Siobhan tells us how it is!
Emily and Isla working
Emily asks a question
Cherilyn and Emily in the zone
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During our 4th week on the Next Choreography programme we were lucky enough to get an insight into Table of Contents – Siobhan Davies Dance live movement installation. This was led by Charlie Morrissey (one of the co-collaborators) and Siobhan Davies.
Even during the first 4 weeks of the Next Choreography programme I have learnt so much about myself, ways of being creative, my piers and working with my piers. While I enjoy letting my mind ponder and think deeper into what we have been exploring in Next Choreography, this week I was left fascinated! The opportunity to listen, watch and ask questions to artists who work in a way I have only recently discovered, was a blessing.
On the train home I let my mind absorb the large content of fascinating knowledge brought to our workshop by Charlie Morrissey and Siobhan Davies. My fascination really lies on ways of ‘performing’ or not performing to an audience, how the audience respond to that and the different angles of doing this. During the workshop I was lucky to experience a performance where I was made to feel like an active, rather than passive member of the audience. Through a topic I’m related to and interested in- the process from ape to human.
I decided that this way of breaking down or rearranging the hierarchy of the audience members and performers is something I have been inspired to explore! I am very excited to let this influence my work and explore it even deeper than we did in the workshop!
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