2013 prospects

Back in September 2012, the Oxford Dance Forum issued a call for applications for "Moving With The Times: A Professional Dance Platform co-presented by Oxford Dance Forum and Pegasus". Thinking this would be a great opportunity to follow-up on my debut as a choreographer I applied; and I'm delighted to say that our project was selected. :)
We're to present a 15 min piece at the Pegasus Theatre on 1st and 2nd March 2013 as part of the Dancin' Oxford Festival, along 4 other local artists/groups of artists.

So, what is this all about? And who is 'we'?
Well the piece is called "Triple-Entendre" and 'we' is "Mnemosyne".
Mnemosyne is the name of the goddess of memory in Ancient Greek mythology. She is our source of inspiration for the piece so we decided to call ourselves by her name; 'we' being, Laura Addison (dancer & choreographer), Malcolm Atkins (composer & musician), and myself (dancer & choreographer).

“Triple-Entendre” was first thought of as a trio exploring themes of memory and absence using ballet technique, and “arranging” the ballet vocabulary with expressive approaches to movement borrowed from contemporary and butoh, in a similar way as one would make a contemporary arrangement of a classical piece of music.
Choreographically speaking, one motivation for this piece was to create a duet-with-an-absence, to explore various ways of conveying to our audience that an intangible presence is interacting with two dancers evolving in space. To achieve this sense of absence, we have actually choreographed duets and trios, when, in effect, we are presenting solos and duets.

We started rehearsing in November 2012, as soon as we heard that we had been selected - and the idea was that even if we hadn't been selected we would have been working on something together... It was long overdue, and I wanted to try my hand at choreographing a longer piece involving other dancers (rather than just me in a 7 min piece like I did in "Splice"). I was also heavily encouraged (thank you Susie, Malcolm, Ana!) to take that step, and I'm very grateful for that. I'm really enjoying it so far.

We began rehearsals as playtime. Laura and I generated some short sequences of movements to be used as bases for the movements in the piece. I had brought some atmospheric music (ah Manu's album "23 Panoramas de Fréquences" is a treasure trove of inspiration; I've used it extensively before and I'm likely to use it yet a lot more - who could possibly resist his nocturnal choir or his singing frogs?). 

We had already decided on an overall structure (4 tableaux) and on the kind of mood shifts we wanted to operate between them. 

We first focused on the first tableau. We knew that in there we wanted repetitions, lots of them, and that whatever the moves we would be putting in there, they would morph throughout the piece; the basic idea being that without memory, paradoxically, we are condemned to eternal repetition, and only with the emergence of memory can evolution, learning, and change happen.

Once we had our little catalogue of short sequences, it was all about trajectories. I was seeing very geometrical trajectories, with very clear directions.

We also discussed extensively the kind of feeling we wanted the moves of the first tableau to have, and somehow, the only way I was ever able to explain what I had in mind was to say "something that's a cross between animalistic/purely-intuitive and mechanical/automatic". Sounds confusing? Yes it was to all of us, to poor Malcolm who is composing the music for the whole piece and to whom I kept going back  to, struggling to make myself understood, and to Laura and to myslef - now, that is, a couple of months later, I think we've reached a common understanding of what we're putting into that section.

Just to show you how things have evolved, here are two pictures showing drafts of Laura's and my pathways in the first tableau... Spot the difference?

Pathways - version 1
Pathways - version 4

Yes simplified!  And so so much more pragmatic too (Thanks to Laura's so precious experience; her suggestions were brilliant!)! It will actually involve some visible floor patterns (the seats at the Pegasus are raked so all in the audience should be able to see that)-- but ssshhhhhhh!.... I'm not saying any more than that right now! Eventually, all will be revealed! And you can even come and get a preview on Fri 25th January 2013 at 19:30 at the Pegasus's scratch night where we'll be showing this first tableau as a work in progress - in the studio though, so there will be no raked seating there unfortunately...

I could keep going, telling you more about the whole creation process - and adventures with sound and composition, and struggles with rehearsal spaces, but this post is already getting on the long side, so I'll only leave you with a wonderful photo of Laura and I (thanks heaps Bella!) and I'll keep those other stories for my next post.

Whose foot is this?
Photography: Bella Kotak
Dancers: Laura Addison and Ségolène Tarte