Monday, 18 July 2016

Composure Part I

July - September 2015

Ben and Leah were choreographic partners for our student choreography project in our final year at Unitec. We worked with eight dancers but also incorporated 'the mass' -the rest of the class (16 more dancers)- into the performance.

The practice of Composure emerged during the rehearsal project; initially we were interested in the way the crowd can hide and reveal the dancers/dancing and we began creating large scale group structures for the dancers to move in/around/under. During group showings Ben and Leah directed the rest of the class amongst the dancers' choreographer -it emerged that this direction and response was the most interesting action to watch! And so, we shifted down this path of showing the choreographers direction, developing a method of working that was foreign, exploratory, exciting, and terrifying! Each rehearsal, Ben and Leah began with a task which would lead to an improvisation, usually an hour long, and we concluded with a discussion -what worked, what didn't work, what language were we building and how each of us operated within the improvisation. From the improv and the discussion Ben and Leah would develop the following rehearsal's opening task as a way to continue to broaden our improv skills, build our shared language and open the improvisation. We worked in an immersive, accumulative way and totally trusted the process!

Our performances (six show season) were a 12 minute improvisation. The dancers had three suggestions on a card, their acquired history of moments and interactions, our language, and their improvisational skills. Ben and Leah directed 'the mass', conducted the music operator and shaped the overall piece. The audience saw a large countdown timer, heard some directions/were excluded from others and attempted to make sense of the organised chaos! Our programme notes said: This is live composition, for you, tonight. It will never be done again.

Overall this process was completely successful in encouraging us to work in a trusting, open, non-prescribed way; in encouraging us to explore improvising as a method of both practice and performance; in encouraging discussion/investigation into methods of creation and the relationship between choreographer and dancer; in igniting an interesting mode of working that we wanted to continue after leaving dance school!

List of explorations/tasks/concepts we developed:

-milling and seething [catch, throw, grab]
-investigations [up close, distance, with body]
-x8 highly choreographed phrases
-marshmellow phrase (movement quality)
-duets [separated OR together]
-screaming grotesque faces
-symbiosis (functioning in an old way with a new partner)
-pulling duet
-long drop duet
-CHANGE [focus, level, dynamic, intention, speed, use of body, relationship, resistance, effort, intensity, awareness of others, vocals, performance, influence of sound]
-holding hands
-compose space
-drop [click]
-G.E. therapy
-MF singing

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