Day 2: Jennifer, Susie, Malcolm Atkins and Andrew
Our first improvisation morphed magically out of our individual development of centre work following the barre, practising technical elements and remembered movement phrases, while the musicians Malcolm and Andrew continued exploring the instrumental set-up and getting used to working together. Gradually our individual investigations converged, leading to work in contact, with a muscularity akin to ballet partnering, low to the floor, moving slowly in unison. The musicians also found a groove that related to this – afterwards we discussed how much we are influenced by them, and them by us, and how one can set up a virtuous – or occasionally confining – feedback circle…
Practical tasks punctuated by sitting round for discussion – although the day seemed leisurely in pace, it felt as though we achieved a lot.
The previous day we had constructed personal phrases combining remembered poses and movements from ballet of particular significance for us; symbolic of the history we carry within us, shaped by our memories. We improvised using this material with the musicians similarly working from remembered musical fragments. We noted the particular quality of the movement material, and how what we had selected was largely 19th century repertoire, the latest of the 20th century repertoire was 1956, thus nearly 60 years old. Does this give our dancing an archaic, old fashioned look? Is the particular musicality of ballet, with its emphasis on melodic phrasing, inextricably linked to a music of the past, or was this exaggerated by our particular choice of repertoire? We discuss with Malcolm and Andrew what are the characteristics of modern music (and life?) – more driving rhythms, more discontinuity and fragmentation? And improvised again with our material against a sound world with these characteristics; difficult and uncomfortable, but interesting.
Intellectually some of the tasks are very challenging; to try to keep coherently within the rules we have set, and yet still respond in the moment to others in the space is quite hard, we have to keep reminding ourselves to leave space for listening, watching and relating, not just to get caught up in one’s own dance.