Thursday, 28 July 2011

More about the process of creating Moving Colour

Reflecting on my Moving Colour experience so far, I just wanted to add a few thoughts about the challenges I mentioned in my blog post on the 19th July.

The Moving Colour project is really ambitious, involving 20 dancers in total from 2 countries, new commissions from choreographer, composer and 4 costume designers, 4 outdoor performance sites in Skegness, 16 in Helsingborg and 4 in Helsinore and nearly 30 minutes of movement to create in 2 weeks. We have had comparatively little time to achieve so much, and I think this has brought out a really positive work ethic in everyone involved in Moving Colour: everyone has shared the responsibility for making the project come together, and therefore everyone shares the pride and excitement when the performances are so warmly received.

Some of the main things on my mind when working with this intensity are:
  • trying to maintain the attention to the detail of the movement, even when we have to work quickly e.g. considering ways to keep the pace of the work up, but also varying the quality of the movement, allowing for rhythmic variation
  • considering the particular requirements of outdoor work e.g. the necessity for strength of performance focus, directing the dancers to embody what they are doing as fully as possible as well as equipping them to deal with the situation when they come face to face with their audience and may need to work around or alongside them as they move from site to site
  • ensuring the dancers take care of themselves, and that I prepare them fully for the task at hand: this is particularly important when they are working away from home in an unfamiliar environment, and the SO Festival took great care to ensure that all the dancers were well accommodated and well-fed! (thank you to the SO Festival catering team!)
  • planning ahead so that project management complexities are dealt with prior to the intensive rehearsal and performance weeks. It is impossible to cover everything in advance, in which case I have to be careful not to bring project management issues into the rehearsal room. I'm getting much better with experience at putting contingency plans in place so that there aren't too many surprises in the final stages!
  • staying true to my own way of working whilst also integrating the specific criteria of a commission that has been conceived by someone else; I have to make something that feels right to me, and it can be more challenging to follow my instincts under time pressure. So I have to trust that the preparation I have put into the project, including my conversations with other collaborators - dancers, Max the composer and the costume designers -will ensure that the final work has my choreographic signature running through it.
  • the audience. They are always on my mind when working under time pressure and within an outdoor festival context. I want the audience to engage with the work, I do not want to isolate them from it, and I love creating work for an audience of passers-by, many of whom may not have seen anything like this before.
Although challenging, Moving Colours has proved to be a wonderful opportunity, and I am immensely thankful for the energy and creativity that all the dancers have contributed. There were many moments in Skegness when I saw really satisfying audience responses: small children standing absolutely still and focused before starting to dance along with the performance, groups of teenagers who were laughing and joking but then stayed to watch the whole thing. And just before the final performance, the small team of girls who had been playing in the foam of the fountain (see previous blog post for details of bubbles incident) helping us to mop up the performance area with towels before sitting to watch the performance.

Photographs by Daniel Clarke

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