Sunday, 14 August 2011

Week 1 of Made By YOU project

Photos throughout this blog post: Katie Green
19 year old Alexa Mason from Ashbourne in Derbyshire has been selected from a group of talented young choreographers to create a new duet for Made By Katie Green in August 2011.

The Made By YOU project was open to all aspiring young choreographers from the East Midlands, and applicants had to submit a one minute video indicating their ideas for a new dance piece. Click here to read the full press release about the project.

Successful choreographer Alexa Mason is about to start her second week in rehearsal with dancers Marie Chabert and Rebecca Yates from Made By Katie Green, and the ten minute duet she will create in that time will go on to be performed as a curtain-raiser accompanying Katie’s forthcoming work Matters of Life and Death. This project is being funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

We have had a really enjoyable time during our first week at Déda (thanks so much to Déda for providing the rehearsal space) and some of the questions that I have been asking Alexa have included:
  • What is your overall purpose in making this piece? Is there something in particular you want to convey to your audience? Are there any key themes?
  • What parts of what you see in rehearsal are memorable to you? What are you looking for when you watch? What do you do when you see it? If you want to capture a memorable moment, how do you do it?
  • If you think something is effective, why is it effective?
  • Is it possible to always maintain a sense of what you are heading towards, even if it changes when you start to build up a structure?
  • How do you structure the rehearsal? When is it necessary to work on something in depth (for a longer period of time) and when is it important to move on?
  • How do you find the transitions between sections?
  • How do you ensure that your work covers space, and doesn't become restricted to one facing? (particularly with only 2 dancers)
  • How much can you meaningfully develop within the time-frame of 10 minutes?

My questions have become more and more specific throughout the week, as I (and Alexa) get a clearer sense of what the piece may be about, and my attention turns to ways in which Alexa can tell her particular story more clearly. So we start to ask things like:
  • Is this a piece about survival? If so, what does it say about survival and are there any ideas which are of particular interest?
  • As an audience member, how are we affected when we can't hear the dancers breathing? How do we respond if we can hear breath sounds?
  • What is the function of reversal, and of repetition in the work?
  • What roles do Marie and Rebecca begin to adopt as the rehearsal goes on? Do these change? How and why? What are the crucial moments that signal something is changing?
Observing Alexa is a real joy, not just because she is tackling this choreographic task with maturity and creativity and a genuine eagerness to understand more about what she is doing, but also because it encourages me to reflect on my practice and on what I have learnt since I was Alexa's age! I'll finish with just a few images of Marie and Rebecca's more playful improvisations, with apologies for my lack of skills with a camera!

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