This piece choreographed by Alexandra Waiestall uses a structured improvisation for its’ choreography and was a part of National Dance Company Wales’ Kin tour. Unfortunately, due to current circumstances, the tour was drawn to a sudden halt. Therefore, in response to this, NDC Wales performed this piece via live stream, for audiences to watch from the safety of their own homes.
The screen was filled with seven boxes, each with one or a couple of dancers inside of them. With each of the ten dancers streaming from their homes, it allowed us as the audience to see into their worlds and connect with them as people and not solely performers.
It began with the speaking of a script, which in turn the dancers used as a set of instructions to aid the creation of their movement. These instructions provided context for the dancers’ making and provided clear connections within the movements between the dancers. Therefore, although they were each moving in their own isolation, they were connected as one. Even those who were performing in the same, shared space as others seemed separate and isolated from one and another. Occasionally, yes, they would enter each- others’ bubbles but it was not this direct communication that connected those in the shared space but again this more prominent connection through intention.
The point of focus flickers between the dancers themselves, their movements, and their views of their surroundings. We as an audience are with them, seeing what they see and engaging with the stimuli that is determining their movement. Each performer has their own understanding of the text given, with moments of pause and breath throughout. The dancers continue to move in and out of frame, reminding us that we are only seeing one perspective of each dancer, even though we are seeing seven different perspectives of the performance.
The introduction of the use of phones and torches brings a shift to the piece. We seem less focussed on the performers and more so the effects of this new dimension within the piece. They begin to interfere and although enhancing the performance, make me question the duality of how this relates to daily life. The dancers shift in their movement quality, and so does their intention and focus. Due to this we acknowledge a shift in our perception and question if we become the ones being filmed, or is it in fact that they are really filming each other? We change how we once saw the screen and question how we see through a lens as compared to before, and is this any different to how we previously watched the first part through our screens at home?
Such phrases stick with me from the text, such as, the “Electricity goes off”. The dancers would join in silence and stillness until the text spoke of it turning “on”, moving once again as the music returns. Another phrase being that of the reference to a “blue sky”. The dancers, although independently of thought, turned their attention to their external senses, prioritising their sight or the sensation of the light on their skin. Many showed us where they could see the outside, usually through a window and continued to move towards that reflection. This journey of visualisation showed us how each perspective of each performer although distinctly different was connected to each other and how their independent decision making often led to similar ideologies.
The score itself provides detail whilst still allowing space for thought and creativity. I would love to play with the score and test how my own methods for improvisation would be similar/ different to those for the company dancers. And how connected, I would feel to them through this one piece of text.
The piece seemed extremely relevant and pressing to our mutual experiences of lockdown. How can we continue to connect to one and another through technology but focus on how we can achieve this with real substance in a way that replaces human touch? Also, how do we see our surroundings, and do we take advantage of them by the misuse of technology in our daily lives?
Overall, it is wonderful that NDCWales shared this piece with us in an alternate format and it is even more wonderful that it was live and not just an online screening. It gave connectivity to an audience in a way in which a usual theatre setting cannot achieve and really provided a platform in which improvised work, that relies so heavily on inter-personal connections, can continue to grow.