Monday, 6 March 2017

COMPOSURE - Sat 25 Feb: Review

Here is a review of Composureoriginally published on Theatreview



Leah Carrell and Ben Mitchell
at Samoa House TAP Studio, Auckland
25 Feb 2017
[12 hours]
Reviewed by Sarah Knox, 25 Feb 2017

Facilitated by Leah Carrell and Ben Mitchell, Composure engages recent Unitec graduates Jasmine Donald, Reece Adams, Omea Geary, Elle Farrar and Sione Fatua in an ongoing, improvised, community movement practice.
The context of Samoa House seems stimulating and suitable for a movement practice rather than a dance rehearsal. I feel at ease and my expectations of what I might observe are less dictated by the space than they might be in a dance studio. I arrive one hour into the 12 hour improvisation. It is not a performance, but rather, an exploration of movement provocations that is open to observers to witness the initial stages of how dances are made, and to observe how movement collaborators work together. We are also invited to influence what we experience either by selecting pre-set ideas for exploration, proposing new ones, or by joining in ourselves by way of movement or discussion.
The ‘shifters’ (dancers) give each other verbal directions, instructions and provocations to begin, develop, change or end improvised choreographic tasks. At times requests are to shift tone or dynamics, change spatial formations, to swap members of the group in or out, or to switch to a new task. Some ideas are theatrical, whimsical or childlike, others are more sophisticated, robust and heavy. Ideas flow and morph and are occasionally scrapped by a “reset”. Moments of solo, duet, trio, and group work last from a few seconds to longer portions of an hour. The shifters give and receive direction simultaneously. Nothing goes on too long, each idea is allowed to reach its depth or end before new ideas are presented.

The agency of the dancers is clear, with no ‘choreographer’, they all fill the roles of dancer, leader, follower, facilitator, collaborator. The decision-making is at times observable, the uncertainty clear as each shifter works hard to receive, listen, understand and influence the direction of the improvisations. At other moments, they seamlessly move together, attuned to each others’ impulses. There is also a compliance to the job present, in that the shifters are obviously committed to exploring each idea presented without judgment or preconceived engagement. Further there exists no attachment to ideas, they simply are explored and then allowed to pass.

The beauty of Composure really is in the humanness and authenticity of the practice in its broadest encounter. On arrival, I am greeted personally by the dancers who are either watching their peers or as they exit sections of the improvisation. There is a warm and welcoming energy, that is also secure and confident.

It is important work these practitioners are doing to develop their practice and hence develop career pathways; but I am also prompted to ponder how this practice serves to provide an alternative perspective about the relationship between the creation of choreography and time limitations to others within our professional dance community. The depth of attention and exploration within an ongoing durational practice, such as this, might positively inform the speed and ease with which we can work to create set choreographic works in shorter time frames in other contexts. There is a strong subtext of creating community also, and a serious lack of ego.

You have until 11pm this evening (Saturday 25 February) to pop in to experience Composure. Otherwise, follow on Facebook and their blog for information about how their work progresses.

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