Choreography into Performance Seminars
This seminar series has been funded by UCLanDance, Preston College and CADG
Reflection on current choreographic explorations.
Mayfly / May We Fly R&D
Kapow have recently been interrogating our creative practice and questioning how best to capture specific movement qualities and translate emotive states into our work.
Here are 3 significant questions that are driving our research?
1. How to create on our own bodies without judgement, how can we free ourselves within the creative process, what are the tools that we find helpful?
We’ve been embracing the challenge of being both the performer and the choreographer within the work. We are searching for a way to create physical material without judgement, allowing an idea to fully form and be explored in a supportive and open environment. Sometimes having a directors overview of the whole research idea can prevent us from being in the moment and embracing the task. How can we let each idea be investigated in a way that lets it live and breathe? Accessing and allowing this freedom in the body for creativity and having the confidence to fully do the task before making choreographic choices will help the work reach it’s potential.
In order to discover the tools that will help we’ve been consciously trialing different approaches for making material to find a way that works for us. This means we have let go of devising methods that don’t work in this current process. It’s been interesting to observe that methods of choreographing that might serve one work don’t necessarily apply to another.
2. How can movement quality be driven by a sensation rather than an aesthetic?
This is a question we’ve been exploring in our current research, we’ve discovered that movement driven from a feeling or sensation is most relevant for the themes we are exploring. However, capturing this material is the challenge we are meeting and overcoming. So far, we’ve recognized that within an improvised form these movement qualities can emerge - transitory, fleeting, ephemeral, teeming, floating, suspended, soaring, uplifting. We’re now grappling with the methods that can capture and allow these qualities to really exist within a fixed form.
3. How can this dance work share a physical or emotional state that resonates with an audience?
Once this material reaches a more formed place we want to begin to share it with viewers/audiences in an informal way as part of the creation. This is because we believe that movement derived from a sensation will resonate and land with an audience in a felt and emotive way. However, we believe at every stage of creation we need to check that this is indeed the case. We want an emotional and atmospheric journey which the audience shares to be at the heart of this work. This ongoing research will help us understand how to share something expressive and heartfelt which doesn’t necessarily follow a narrative journey.
Amy Voris currently has a solo piece that is being performance throughout April 2019. Click the images for more information.
Following a long drive North from Chichester to Preston, Mapdance company members Paige Jones, Ashleigh Kinchin, Sasha Vallis and Beth Veitch along with our Co-Artistic Director Yael Flexer arrived in the midst of Storm Gareth to be greeted warmly by the enthusiastic students of UCLan Dance. We wanted to provide the students with a workshop echoing elements of the creative process Anthony Missen (Co-Artistic Director of Company Chameleon) provided us with during our creation period spent with him. Beginning with an improvisational warm up, we gave space for the students to focus on their body. It is true that in dance training, no day is the same and although the body will always be a place that is returned to daily with familiarity, it does not always feel like the same place. We encouraged the students to recognize where they were on that day; to greet any tiredness, aches and mental distractions not with a will to avoid or override, but to use for good in finding new qualities, textures and places from which movement can originate. With these initial explorations, we taught the students a dynamic, release-based phrase shifting across the space and through different levels, which allowed them to take their own investigations of their body further. The students were responsive to our will for them to take the space, to be bolder and braver in their approach and as a result the energy in the room became more focused, exciting and infectious to each other.
Using the dancers’ energy and enthusiasm, Sasha and Ashleigh taught a duet taken from Anthony Missen’s ‘Bucket List B’; a work placed within our current repertoire. It follows an unassuming group of individuals who find themselves together as it is announced that the end of the world is imminent. Tracing the reactions of these characters through the work, as fueled from a creative process centered in discussions and our own truths, we see confrontation, fear, anxieties, love and loss amongst an ever-growing spectrum of feeling illustrated through text and movement. It is a work that to perform is emotionally charged, continually developing and in places, unpredictable on each performance. The duet the students learnt was taken from the opening section, which helps to build tension and a feeling of uncertainty amongst the dancers in the space. Physically, it is demanding in contact work and strength to shift each other through the space, yet for us we found a real interest in seeing how the students in the workshop interpreted the work’s narrative. The duet was initially created from a task Anthony Missen set which placed one dancer in a supportive role and the other as the receiver of the support and affirmation. We gave the dancers this same task, offering them an opportunity to extend these duets using their own creative voices. How the pairs chose to pace the duet and their dynamic qualities and intentions were choices we allowed them to make individually, so for us to watch movement we know being taken to different places and in turn, making different statements was informative for us as performers of the work.
Following the workshop, we gave the students an opportunity to share thoughts or ask any questions they may have about the workshop or Mapdance. Having completed our undergraduate degrees last year, it was great to speak to students whose shoes we were stood in not too long ago! Conversation ranged from audition preparation, to the realities of touring and dancing in a company to our own individual journeys through dance. On leaving UCLan, we felt inspired by the dancers’ energy and commitment and hope in what we taught, they were able to find something thought provoking to return to.
In some ways my research is focused on areas of interest rather than direct questions - although tussling with multiple questions or meta-questions often arises in process.
I have a primary interest in improvisation as a practice of paying attention to movement information/sensation as it arises. This is also connected to my doctoral research that proposed that movement is not merely illustrating thinking, but is a cognitive activity in itself.
For the past couple of years my research has also been working with examining notions of archive - looking at how the dancer’s body can be considered as a living archive by collecting, articulating and disseminating experiences – dance related and other – that reside in the body. This has arisen through an interest in wanting to foreground what the dancer is doing and the audience’s encounter with their ‘being-through-doing’, in front of considering that their embodiment is existing as primarily a vehicle to carry or contain choreography as the principal ‘artefact’.
To this end, during the Choreography into Practice seminar at UCLAN, I was interested in encouraging the group to celebrate the past few years of their journey both individually and together. I asked them a series of questions (both light-hearted and serious) and through asking them to work with the recalling and holding of these memories whilst in a state of inviting improvisatory movement to emerge, their embodied identities began to be organised and woven into a fabric of choreography. The choreography is a vehicle for them, their embodied identities, to be encountered, rather than they are the vehicle for the choreography to be encountered. The music used was simply what I was listening to on my journey home after first meeting the UCLanDance students - it seemed suitably irreverent and cool and I wanted them to embrace this and this side of themselves in performance.
My choreographic interests and practice lie predominately with the body, what is can communicate to an audience through its movement, using the whole body as an expressive power. To create work that is socially relevant and astute, its very often a reflection of the times we live in. Also to I want work with a wide range of performers, physical partnering work that incorporates an equality agenda and there is an open attitude and interest in using the body’s full potential which leads me to work with a diverse range of people and
I aim to create performances that are relevant to my audience, creating movement that speaks and connects and that draws upon my 19 years of experience with a wide range of companies as a dancer with Jasmin Vardimon, Candoco, Silesian Dance Theatre, Yael Flexer, Fin Walker Athina Valha, Caroline Bowditch, training with Andre Gingras, and Charlotte Vincent.
I like to think of my work as creating films through movement, to get the audience to dive into TRIBE//s onstage world to be with the dancers like watching a film. There never a specific narrative ‘to get’ its open to your interpretation and I hope to raise questions for people to reflect on their own life’s, there is not one ‘right’ message this work will mean something different to everyone. It’s powerful, absorbing and emotive work and I hope speaks to everybody, whether you have seen contemporary dance before or not. You can’t helped be moved by the dancer’s journey, abilities and skill.
I always start my choreographic with a big a collection of questions, images, feelings and atmospheres to explore. I create from visual images of movement or feelings I want to explore to see if they translate into movement to tensions between people to play with choreographically.
Music always moves me and influences my choreographic work greatly, the response to it, finding the feel, rhythms or taking on the music’s emotional drive, but being truthful finding a way to play, juxtapose and unleash into rhythms and beats and melodies. For me dancing is in our human nature, everyone dances whether from dancing in your kitchen to on stage it’s the same thing its human expression.
It’s important that the movement is performed from the gut and holds a sense of truth. I create movement and enjoy seeing it translate on to the dancer’s bodies but also enjoy working with the movement they own, that is unique to them I have an open attitude and interest in using the body’s full potential and unique movement capabilities, which leads me to work with a diverse range of people and performers.
I’m interested in movement that has a wide range, it’s important to be able to change quickly from one dynamic or quality to another. To both address the audience and to acknowledge that we are performing. To give the movement away through performance, to let it speak, to feel, to connect with each other on a human level without pretence, an experience that is suggestive of our human viciousness and vulnerability.