Category Archives: Dance

14 Months On A Response To Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

In November 2018 we published an article in response to the new Arts Council Wales Corporate Plan “For the benefit of all..” with a range of contributions from Creatives in Wales. We revisit this area in the updated article below with responses from one of the creatives featured in the article as well as an additional contribution.

Our mission statement at Get The Chance is “Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events.”

We were very pleased to see some of the priority areas in the new Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all”

In particular we were interested in Commitment 2 below

We will enable a greater number and a wider diversity of people to enjoy, take part and work in the publicly funded arts.

ACW then go onto make a series of intentions (below) for where they want to be in 2023 (5 years)

We will be able to demonstrate clearly that all our funding programmes promote and contribute to equality and diversity

There will be a narrowing of the gap between those in the most and least affluent social sectors as audiences and participants

We will develop the creative work of disabled artists by funding “Unlimited” commissions and developing a scheme similar to “Ramps on the Moon” operated by Arts Council England

We want to introduce a “Changemakers” scheme placing BAME and disabled people in senior executive positions in the arts

We want to see a doubling of the number of disabled people in the arts workforce

We want to see a doubling of the number of Black and Minority ethnic backgrounds in the arts workforce

We want to have introduced an Arts Council Apprenticeships scheme designed to provide opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds

We will have achieved a trebling of the number of BAME and disabled and on APW boards of governance

You can read the full article from last year here

Adeola Dewis

Artist, researcher, academic and TV presenter

I struggle to fully engage this as a response. My recent experience has revealed that there is certainly a surge to include diversity in all its forms on boards and in creative spaces and projects. However, this new ‘interest’ feels more like organisations ‘needing’ to diversify rather than ‘wanting’ to diversify, in order to secure their future and funding. I am hopeful though.

Elise Davison

Artistic Director, Taking Flight Theatre Company

What a year of change 2019 has been.  For Taking Flight it has seen the company move away from the annual Shakespeare production to more indoor, venue-based work.  

peeling by Kaite O’Reilly, opened on International Women’s Day in March at The Riverfront, Newport and then toured Wales and England and was a huge success earning 4 and 5* reviews.

The Guardian stating “Accessible theatre? Do it properly – do it like this”.  Following this Taking Flight was invited to Grenzenlos Kulture festival in Mainz, Germany as an example of best practice in accessibility.  It was a huge tour and highlighted once more the inaccessibility of much of Wales; accessible accommodation is very hard to find, and some venues struggled to meet our access riders.  However, this did lead to some very inventive solutions involving temporary dressing rooms created with flats, curtains and even a marquee! Obviously not the ideal but with our hugely creative stage management team always looking for solutions rather than the problems and the support of venues we made it work. High applause to Angela Gould at RCT Theatres for her work in this department. 

Angela Gould, Theatre Programme and Audience Development Manager, RCT Theatres.

One of our lovely actors toured with her dog who was a lovely addition to the team. Max is a therapy dog; many places we visited were only familiar with guide dogs, which made us realise how much there is to learn about the different types of assistance dogs.  

Everything we learnt during this extensive tour will feed into the work we have been developing towards a scheme like the Ramps on the Moon initiative.  A scheme like this can never be replicated, but the interest and passion from venues in Wales to be involved is overwhelming.  Creu Cymru, hynt and Taking Flight have been in ongoing discussions about ways to make this happen.  We read with interest that it was also a priority for ACW and have begun conversations with them around a similar scheme. As we have been researching and pushing for this to happen since ‘Ramps’ began in 2016, we are passionate that this becomes a reality.  Taking Flight has just received funding for their next production, Road, at Parc and Dare, RCT Theatres and we hope this partnership will be the first step.   Taking Flight will give support to participating venues to be confident to manage and produce inclusive work, to provide excellent access and a warm welcome to all- both audiences and creatives. 

While peeling was out on the road in the Autumn, we also remounted the hugely successful and totally gorgeous You’ve got Dragons.  After a run at WMC we hit the road again for a UK tour including a week run at Lyric Hammersmith which was almost sold out and incredibly well received. The desire for inclusive and accessible work for young people is growing.  Watch this space for more news on You’ve Got Dragons next adventure.

Taking Flight has often dreamt of setting up a Deaf- led Youth Theatre for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing young people and with funding from BBC Children in Need we have finally done it. Led by the tremendous Stephanie Back in BSL and English, the youth theatre began last week and the results are already fabulous. The Wales Millennium Centre are our amazing venue partner and host the weekly sessions for D/deaf children aged 4-18. We have been overwhelmed with interest in this project, demonstrating that this has been needed in Wales for a long time.     

There has also been a surge in interest from companies and individuals wanting to consider access while writing funding applications.  There is a general excitement around making work accessible. There are some brilliant intentions and I’ve had exciting conversations with companies about different types of access and have been able to recommend consultants and access professionals.  

The ground has been fertile for change for some time and there is much more inclusive and accessible work being created here than when we first started 12 years ago.   Theatres are also much more interested in programming diverse work and many have invested in Deaf Awareness training with Taking Flight (Led by Steph Back). 

Steph Back

 There is a real desire to diversify audiences and welcome them to theatre spaces.  Taking Flight’s next symposium on 28th Feb at Park and Dare RCT theatres on Relaxed Performances brings the brilliant Jess Thom, Touretteshero to Wales to discuss ways to provide the warmest possible welcome to those who may find the traditional etiquette of theatre a problem.   

Jess Thom, Touretteshero

There has been a surge of work featuring D/deaf and disabled performers, productions like Jonny Cotsen’s Louder is Not Always Clearer, Leeway Productions Last Five Years and Illumine’s 2023 really engaged new audiences and the venues have really built on this success.    There have been more productions that embed access in a creative way, a gorgeous example in Gods and Kings by Fourinfour productions with integrated BSL from Sami Thorpe.  I had lots of fun working with Julie Doyle and Likely Story integrating BSL interpreter Julie Doyle into Red. Companies are choosing to interpret, audio describe or caption all the shows in a run rather than just one which is really encouraging and promoting more equality of access to shows.

So, the will to make accessible work is absolutely there, the best of intentions are definitely there and, now the funding for access is factored into budgets, the funds are usually there. However, why is it still access that falls through the cracks, gets pushed aside or forgotten as a production approaches opening night?  I hear stories of interpreters and audio describers who can’t get into a rehearsal space to prep or are placed somewhere on stage that is neither aesthetically pleasing nor practical.  It can still sometimes feel like access is something that needs to be ticked off a list in order to fulfil a funding application.  

I am absolutely sure that this is not the intention; but we are all so overstretched, one person is often doing multiple jobs (especially in small companies) and when no one is directly responsible for access or it simply forms ‘part’ of someone’s role. So those best intentions and exciting plans are really hard to fully achieve.  Taking Flight are exploring this lack of provision for access co – ordination with Bath Spa University so watch this space for the results of our research… The next generation of theatre makers are coming, and they really care about making work that can be accessed by all – that makes me happy.

Review: Child, Peeping Tom, London Mime Festival, Barbican Theatre By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

I am sure that many of us would dread to know what the contents our minds would look like if they were to come into reality. Those odd dreams, the nightmares and the fears.

Peeping Tom’s Child brings all of these to the forefront in a bizarre continuous performance staged in a pretty normal looking forest clearing. Taking the fears and dreams of a child, what we encounter for the next hour or so is not only comical but at times quiet frightening and confusing.

By no means is this a negative comment.

With a little feeling of inspiration from the likes of Antonin Artaud’s theory of Theatre of Cruelty and a touch of Bertolt Brecht’s Alienation effect, we are intrigued by and at times disgusted at what we see. For the few, this is too much but for the many, once you are invested, there’s no leaving until the end.

Engagement comes in the anticipation of the next scene. Seamless in delivery, and with seemingly no obvious scene changes (although, of course there is, but they meld into one another so well, you can hardly tell) we encounter bizarre character’s with little relation to one another; scenes that we couldn’t even imagine in our wildest dreams, and they form together to give real laughter, uneasy laughter and real “WTF” moments that are nothing but brilliant.

There are ranges of physical theatre throughout the piece – bodies push the boundaries of what we understand they are capable of; like liquid, at times mechanic, without fear and flawless. One cannot help but be in awe of the performer’s capabilities and inspired by how graceful and yet at times fearless their movements can be.

Child is really something special. Not for fans of contemporary or traditional theatre, but certainly something that everyone must try for the sheer courage and impossible creativity it exudes.

Review Company Danza PUCP present Laberinto. Choreographed by Lea Anderson by Becky Johnson

A monochrome Zoetrope of cross- continental imagery.

“Created in collaboration with Peruvian artists and long- time collaborator, composer Steve Blake, ‘Laberinto’ continues Anderson’s work around misconstruction of reimagined lost dances, leading the audience on a serpentine journey into the labyrinth, into worlds beyond death.”

The piece was performed at Bristol’s Old Vic in their Weston studio, an enchanted yet cosy space which fit the themes of Laberinto perfectly. This meant the dancers were really amongst the audience, almost close enough to touch but certainly close enough hear and maybe even feel their breath.

The dancers begin the piece with grounded movement which seems heavily influenced by Capoeira, an afro-Brazilian martial art form. They create strong shapes, providing visual imagery for the audience which is almost like a caricature or cartoon. This makes characters for each performer within the monochrome zoetrope of cross- continental imagery that emerges on stage.

The dancers hold their own persona within the piece, each with their own personality and therefore, their own characteristics. This allows the audience to form a relationship with each, creating space for light- hearted comedic moments which feature regularly within the piece and to the very end (including the bow). These add to the theatrics of the performance and provide breaks from the intensity of the images throughout. Also making the piece accessible for those, who are not necessarily from an arts background.

I adored the stark contrast between the characters, whether that was being devilishly camp or oppositely, stern and unphased. The posture of these really played true to the role. They often carried a Parisian ‘laissez-faire’ attitude which occasionally indulged us in their inner flamboyance. However, that isn’t forgetting the shift in physicality when performing sections that deemed more heavily tribal influenced. The dancers would then adopt a curved and more grounded approach, contrasting the seemingly European personas they were previously carrying. Sadly, as the performers tired, it did seem as though the sparkle of what were such strong, captivating personalities had become more distant and less embodied by the dancers.

The costumes, all variations of monochrome catsuits, hold reference to French icons such as Marcus Marceau as well as to Incan or Native American masks. This fusion of European and Latin American aesthetics is constant throughout the piece, both in imagery and movement. The use of face paint on the face enhances the characters in which the dancers play. With strict monochrome and neutral expressions, it is their physicality which tells us of their individual stories. Only to be broken with exaggerated facial expressions or the use of the tongue which strikes contrast to the sullen monochrome otherwise. Imagery like the sticking out of the tongue and piercing stares relate to that often seen in tribal rituals. This is heightened in the penultimate section of the trio. The trio is made up of a solo and a duet. The soloist seems to be trapped within a shamanic ritual between the other two dancers. The two dancers appear to be chanting around the soloist but not verbally, physically. The shamanic chanting is created via the use of hands and gestural movements, almost like a text. Repeated, over and over, each time with more power and vigour, growing in strength and intensity.

Throughout the piece the dancers’ hands will never be seen in a fist, but always splayed or stylistically positioned. Often the hands and arms will make references to whacking or vogueing foundations, often crossing over with that of 1980s catwalk models or magazine covers. This shape of movement is always precise, with transitional movements from one shape to the other. These shapes provide the context for the audience, often presenting imagery from familiar historic images. Not only supermodels but mimes, jesters, court dancers and circus performers. I did question at times which images have been used to make the choreography, as although some were obvious in their links, others not so much. There seemed to be expressions that linked with that of ‘Uncle Tom’ propaganda from the 1950s but whether that was purposeful or solely my connections, I am unsure.

The choreography itself relies on a mixture of devised games (such as freezeframes or adding to the picture) as well as the use of strict patterns playing with timings, canons, shape and poise. The accents of the choreography tended to swap between ‘hits’ and breaks’, meaning sharp held movements and sharper movements that then blend into something softer. The pathways of the piece were most intriguing and formed a key role within the piece. The characters would glide past each other, whilst in strict canons but along unusual pathways meaning as the audience, your eyes were constantly drawn to different areas within the stage.

The set simply details a square of flooring which is matched by a dangling box light above. This cube of parameter provides ample space for the performers to move and with their grounded movement quality, they seem encased within the space and we the audience are peeking through the looking glass. The strict spacing provided by the set allows the structure of the piece to provide breath and more importantly to reset from scene to scene. Almost as though when the dancers aren’t within the set, they are offstage (although they continue to pursue their characters and to respond to what is emerging on stage).

I was fortunate to witness the Q&A at the end of the performance which added further insight into the process of creation and how such a project came about. I was happy to learn that photographic images had been one of the core ways in which the piece had been created and that the piece focussed on these shapes and imagery throughout. It’s wonderful to see such open ways of creating and these types partnerships taking place. I look forward to seeing more from such an emerging professional company and wish them the best of luck on the rest of their tour.

Rambert2 – a review by eva marloes

Rambert2 is a spectacular and charged performance with dancers of incredible physicality,
elasticity, and vigour. I believe they earned the standing ovation; less so the choreographers.
Rambert2 is made of three pieces, of which Sin, choreographed by Damien Jalet and Sidi
Larbi Cherkaoui, is the most striking and beautiful. Sin is sandwiched between a
disappointing and dated piece with a scifi flavour and an explosive but crowded and uneven
piece at the end.

The first piece opens with dancers in space-like suit playing an impossible game of words.
The theatrical side is quickly ditched and left unresolved to move to fun and rhythm. It lacks
a journey, cohesiveness, and beauty. The final piece brims with colour and movement. It
shows off the dancers’ agility, strength, and smoothness. They also show skill and
coordination in working a rather limited stage. Sin is simply mesmerising. It is a gripping
duet capturing the conflictual nature of desire, the life force of eroticism, and annihilation. It
is beautiful and beautifully executed.

Rambert2 is a bonfire of energy with uneven pieces. Its main weakness lies in being too
concerned with effect. It is ‘stagy’ with an expert use of music, lights, and showing off talent.
It wants to entertain the audience and overall it succeeds. Yet, it does so by relinquishing the
poetry that is present in Sin and at the beginning of the final piece.

Rambert2 was part of Cardiff Dance Festival, performed at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

(First Published on Groundwork Pro and Cardiff Dance Festival)

Access in the Arts. Are Things Getting Better or Worse? Avant Cymru.

Our mission statement at Get The Chance is “Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events.”

After the publication of the new Arts Council Wales, Corporate Plan, 2018 – 2023 “For the benefit of all” we interviewed a range of arts professionals in November 2018 to discuss the intentions of Arts Council Wales and suggest ways that their ambitions may be best realised.

A year one from this article we spent time broadly discussing the aims of the Corporate Plan and what change (if any) has occurred in the sector. The questions we asked elicited a personal response from everyone involved. We are publishing our second response below from Rachel and Jamie from Avant Cymru. Avant Cymru describe themselves as “A forward thinking theatre company from the South Wales Valleys. Creating relevant, distinctive theatre, dance, Hip Hop and artistic activity with and for our community and championing this work at home and afar.”

Hi Can you tell us about yourself please?

Hi Avant Cymru are made up of many different individuals. We have key members for the company who come a different range of backgrounds

BAME

LGBT

LOW INCOME/HIGH INCOME

There are two elements we can relate to with each other, all have mental health issues or have family members who have had long term mental health conditions. The other is that we all have Dyslexia and for some, other learning disabilities including ADHD and Dyspraxia. 

 What was your personal pathway into the arts?

 We have all had different pathways, one thing which we all have in common is that our parents were not in a position to be able to pay for classes and training which others could afford as we were growing up. For Rachel Pedley our Artistic Director this resulted in her assisting classes to cover the cost of her classes and taking on multiple jobs to pay for the clothing, equipment and assessments.  

Do you think your class; gender or ethnic background has impacted on your education or career?

All of us have found prejudice for our backgrounds from certain individuals. This has helped us find strength in each other. We appreciate that none of us sound, look or have experienced the same as the other and this means we can enrich each other by sharing our differences. 

 What have you found to be your personal barriers to accessing the arts and being able to develop a sustainable career? Is a sustainable career even possible?

Money – Money, Money and most worryingly segregation.  

Do you feel comfortable within your personal arts environment or is the different class, gender, ethnic background or privilege of colleagues something that impacts on you?

There are many environments we find ourselves in where there are middle to upper class people. As a majority working class company we do find it difficult to be able to explain that the places we perform, teach and train are very different to those accessed by the people we see outside of the Valleys and outside of the areas we perform across the world with our Hip Hop work. We have been to the purpose built buildings, with equipment and resources. We are grateful for the spaces and people who support us, without them the Valleys would be falling behind, they have kept opportunities available helping companies like ours to excel and grow. However the Valleys need purpose built spaces and talent to be championed. 

Are things are getting better or worse?

Worse – Segregation is happening through policy led decisions. 

ACW have the target of “We will enable a greater number and a wider diversity of people to enjoy, take part and work in the publicly funded arts.” Do you think this is acheivable?

True diversity happens when you have all involved who want to be. All financial backgrounds, race, religion, abilities, ages accessing and participating. 

Do you think ACW will be able them to deliver on their targets and why?

Unless the funding is focused on actual practice coming from the people and the varied communities looking to open their doors, it will never be achieved, you can’t buy diversity by forcing people into areas, jobs, etc without them having their heart and soul in that area. There are already many diverse projects happening across Wales – not funded by anyone in many cases. The funders need to look beyond those they think they know and see the amazing work being developed from the ground up. There you will find achievement that will be sustainable, diverse and rich as it comes from those who may not have the ability to write a funding form, or deal with the networking meetings, but those who love the area, the people and the art of where they live and what they are inspired by.

How do you think ACW would be able to best realise their intentions?

 Come to hear from audiences and participants, see what is being achieved and who is achieving it. 

From your personal lived experience what needs to change?

That funders fund what the community want and need, instead of pushing statistics.

If you are interested in the work of Avant Cymru, further information on their next event can be found below.

Open Art Surgery with Breakin’ Convention
Ty Pawb Art Gallery, Wrexham, LL13 8BBFri 14th February 2020

Open Art Surgery Wales invites you to delve into the mind and souls of some of the UK’s finest hip hop artists as they dare to try something new, dangerous and exciting!Artists present brand new short works devised and developed in just one week with mentorship from hip hop theatre aficionados Jonzi D, Ivan Blackstock and Anthony Lennon.This unique event, which takes place at the end of a week of intense research and development, presents six new works to the audience who are then invited to critique, feedback and ask questions to the artists involved.

Open Art Surgery is not about presenting finished work. The focus is to develop theatre skills within hip hop artists and to experiment with new ideas that could be developed further in the future. Breaking down of the fourth wall to allow the audience to engage with the artists, Open Art Surgery is an unmissable event in the Breakin’ Convention calendar.Hosted by Breakin’ Conventions Jonzi D

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/avantcymru/open-art-surgery/e-bmqjvl

The Gift Of Dance – A Comment On Fearghus Ó Conchúir’s Workshop by Eva Marloes

The highlight of the Dance Festival, for me, has been the workshop offered by Fearghus Ó Conchùir, Artistic Director of the National Dance Company Wales (NDCW). It was not only an opportunity for those like me, without dance training, to participate, but also a personal gift from an experienced and professional dancer to whoever wanted to be part of it. The workshop was open to all, with no financial or skills barrier, and it was led by Fearghus with an open attitude, making no impositions.

We began with some basic ballet moves. My lack of dance training meant that movements were like foreign words which I stumbled to pronounce. The repetition at the beginning helped me fix the plies that, judging by my aching legs, I used throughout the day.

After the initial ‘structured’ session, Fearghus told us that we would do ‘contact improv’ in couples and in group, an announcement which was met by a terrified expression on my face. Being used to intellectual work alone, having to focus on the body and make sense of it with others is daunting. In the dancing space, I can only express myself through my body. There is nowhere to hide.

I have done some ‘contact work’ before. This time, we began as couples where one touched the other’s body gently, while the other became attentive to their own body and then responded to the touch. A simple touch, an attentiveness to one’s body, and a response to touch formed the essential elements of our dance for the day. I quickly found myself in duets and in group in synergy with others without effort, so much that asked to improvise alone, I complain that I lost my partner.

The togetherness that Fearghus wanted us to explore requires listening to one another’s bodies and being in dialogue with one another. It is not achieved by putting aside differences, rather by working with them. Perhaps the most interesting exercise was one of imitation. We were all asked to dance a solo for one (very long) minute while observed by the rest of the group, who in turn had to replicate something of our movement.

Like impressionists, we tried to imitate, but soon became interpreters with our own bodies. We tried to extract the essence of a person’s movements and recreate it, but this process of analysis and reproduction soon became one of interpretation. Other people’s movements sat differently in our bodies. It was a beautiful exercise in discovering the other as well as oneself.

Outside competitions and professional performances, dance is a gift of one’s way of expressing oneself through movement. It makes one vulnerable. It makes one risk judgment and rejection; yet all giving is thus. A soulful gift is the giving of oneself with no expectation of reciprocity.

Tir Cyfreddin/Shared Ground Workshop was part of Cardiff Dance Festival.

(This article was first published on Groundwork Pro Blog)

Review The Storm, James Wilton Dance By Becky Johnson

A storm of the mind as well as in temperament.

The piece opens with the dancers rooted to the floor, in what seems like the foundations of a tree. As tensions build, the tree begins to sway by the wind which causes a ripple through each performer. The storm builds taking hold of the dancers swirling them through the space like leaves drifting through the wind. Thus creating, an autumnal flurry of movement and immersive sound. It’s imagery like this, that forms the development of the storm throughout the piece. The dancers utilise this as well as breath to create the effect of the ever-growing storm around us. It’s their skill and power as performers that really drives the audience with them through the storm that’s created.

The movement used was often self-indulgent allowing us to see the performers not as performers but as people, with their own desires and limitations. Even when taken by the wind and shifted through the space, the performers remained as themselves, not characters. Their own emotions drove them to move and create, with the ensemble often echoing the soloists state of mind in the backdrop of the stage. At times, swirling and spiralling across the space whilst the soloists remained still, reflecting their inner turmoil although their own appearance remained static and unphased. The first half of the piece focuses on simpler values to portray the story of the storm, imagery via use of line and shape within the movement and allowing the knock-on effect from dancer to dancer which creates this ever-building tension.

However, the second half, relies heavily on theatrics and storytelling to get this point across. The timing of movements and the beginning of phrases becomes predictable, which with such fascinating, detailed music (composed by Amarok / Michal Wojtas which I shall be purchasing once released) becomes frustrating. There seems a loss of detail in the realness of these people, which was previously so enchanting. Facial expressions become forced and lose their authenticity, with an absence of realism in their hands and reaches.

Although, with this being said, the theatrical elements really did provide food for thought. Especially the initial solo by Norikazu Aoki. It approached the theme of mental health with self – destructiveness and the desire from those around him to help fight this addiction. These things are extremely important to be visualised in work on stage and such a difficult topic to explore well. By leaving the solo so simple, it allowed the audience to resolve their own interpretation of what was happening. It sparked a real understanding of these issues from the point of those witnessing someone deteriorate and how we can and should assist in those moments of self-harm. This sharing of help was continued throughout the piece with simple, gestural motifs such as that as the unfolding of hands.

The role of the observer stands as its own motif throughout the piece. This played by the choreographer James Wilton. He is present in almost all the scenes providing stillness to the continuing motion on stage. This leads me to question, is this piece the story of one man? Are the performers on stage sharing his own personal experiences to the audience? And was this his journey to self help and how he overcame his own demons?

A Response to Écrit, Choreographed by Nikita Goile, NDCWales Roots Tour by Sean Bates

I feel this track captures the ebbs and flows of Roots, NDCWales specifically Écrit by Nikita Goile. The performance started with a lone female dancer moving fluidly, almost like a crisp packet in a melancholic wind.  A muscular male was positioned behind a white screen, mirroring her movements. To me this suggested he may be out of reach in some way; another women perhaps, even though the synchronisation implied an obvious connection.  I feel the performance brilliantly portrayed the struggle that every human being must go through: a quest for true love. The company made brilliant use of the space, and the eerie lighting provided an excellent back drop to the performance. The dancers used sweeping movements and emotive body language to visually represent  their potential romance, although love must always be reciprocated and sometimes we have to cut off a part of us and let go in order to reach the highest peak.

Subjective Reflections on Rosalind Crisp, Practises of Disarmament… by Anushiye Yarnell

(When we enter a workshop or performance we already carry so much with us, which shapes and resonates perpetually in how we feel, sense, think witness… and determines what we take away.)

Workshop:

Choreographic Improvisation

Possibly I enter each workshop dressed in degrees of resistance and estimated angles of surrender, 

and

I guess…  definitely un-definitive desires.

Desires secretly aflame stashed as best I can for another occasion. 

The geometry of these desires has been formed by my habitats of dancing, which have since childhood most predominately been solitary experiences, practices and investigations. Flickering into dancing nights out and occasional classes or workshops.

(Working under or up to a choreographer or even a teacher never quite seems to fit.) The implicitexplicit hierarchies and structures involved in the process of ‘becoming a dancer’ contrast significantly with those of other art forms.

My tendency seems to ‘dip in’ intermittently to social sites of contemporary dance- seeking conversations, connections with other dancing bodies- sources of reorientation rather than reproduction.

There is a lot I keep stashed under wraps in workshop situation.

That I edit out of my dancing in order to be there.

Perhaps everyone there does.

How thread bear can the fleshy garments we wear between life and dance?

I continue to find it distracting being in a room full of dancers ‘doing moves’ -moves which have been shaped by the aesthetics and conduct of contemporary dance class. There is a strong determinative current in the room- in some ways experienced as an opportunist ‘expansive’ and fertile energy-  yet also subliminally restrictive, prescriptive and within determining stylistic spectrums.

Ever-present (even in absence) is the omniscient all-knowing mirror in the room- in the held faces.

Sprayed on songs counted in 8.

An inheritance of aesthetics and ideologies.

As such dance classes and workshops are also a site of renouncement.

Resonance and Dissonance have been as much a part of my dance quests and navigations as my desires.

Expectations, prejudices, disappointments, preconceptions. These ebb and flow, merge and submerge, comforts and discomforts, hopes barriers, openings, shields. Somehow I wear them all… as in the misspelling the 2nd hand blue sweater I am wearing as I write this….

ARMOUR 

A_MOUR.

Love and Conflict co-inhabit as Survival in the way i wear and experience my body- in dance and life.

My anti Ideologies include paradox and contradiction, which resonate harmonically with dissonance and self undoing.

Everyone has their rules and regulations…to apprehend…however morphic, unrecognisable, displaced from the establishment /status quo.

There is a welcome greeting from Rosalind which extends somehow as a climate, an  atmosphere into the first actions of the day.

She is throw away with her words and tasks…as if shooting a tin can with exactitude and disarming laughter. Sending things flying in disarray… arriving with a perturbingly exacting landing. I believe in the moment I shall remember everything she says… yet never seem to.

We are invited to wear in-depth, the fleshy gestures we enact as we ‘Warm UP’.

Somehow there is a dressing and undressing from our needs- practical, physical, emotional. Which elements do we self-consciously edit out or adjust in this social situation?

A few years ago I stripped away Warming UP.

It had always been a synthetic add on. Easy to let go of…and almost made necessary by life’s constraints. 

Anyway my real desire was always to begin by dancing without expectation. Perhaps what I identified as ‘warming up’…has been historically identified by what I am not ready, or not yet good enough for.

If any thing I ‘warm down’ – a practical apparatus to be able to carry my dance back into my life- patterns and constructs of my body in day to day survival. A kind of savoury dessert. An elixir of the ordinary. 

It is a chorus somehow strangely echoes …down the line from Deborah Hay….

“Getting What You Need”

Not here or now this morning… yet somehow it echoes of its own accord.

When this incantation first resounded in my radar I had to undress it from associations of affirmation. It seems to fit easy when I recognise “what I need” as a cellular unidentifiable, morphic, surprising and self unravelling experience. What I need as a question, rather than an acquisition. 

An invitation, direction or gesture of departure as well as arrival.

Somehow Rosalind offered Warming UP as question…. an invitation to reconfigure ‘needs’…moving within easy to reach field of movement.

Perhaps if I rechristen Warming UP as acclimatising.

“Warming UP”  could feel like an invitation to include very practical and ordinary elements of my everyday  body- needs, fears and desires.

Warming UP deciphers beginnings and endings, invitations, expectations to tuning into tuning out of.

Rosalind describes a musical scale as a metaphor for Warming Up.  

A series of portals to experience aspects of feeling and being which appear and disappear.

Warming Up those vital aspects of ourselves,  dormant, or attired in getting through life, which can dishabille  dancing?

I am aware of how I am tethered by by my own discreetly oppositional anti establishment ideologies…which have their own restrictions within civilised  systems.

Rosalind speaks of “Shedding” through the day.

Somehow this Act of Shedding has been the only way anything has ever formed, accumulated, been generated, or encompassed in my the habitat of my dance.

There is a freedom and exactitude to “Shedding”.

 She rechristens Warming UP as Noticing.

Like orphaning and rechristening a child of the establishment as an illegitimate out of wedlock love child…tuning the harmonics and melodics of the

…the exchanging interface between life body and dancing body.

*Orienting includes of Disorientating and Reorienting.*

 Rosalind lightly describes years of being in the studio alone.

And her fidelity to 

“Just One Thing”at a time

…as a Practice.

“Practice” is another word I have orphaned, adopted and rechristened as a Habitat.

After all I always try to untether activities from Justifications.

In a world where justice can only be a fleeting or temporal accommodation.

The End of the World?

…Should it be a question any longer?

…So many worlds are ending.

…Yet the world is not a Mono-theistic Being.

(Even if that is translated into modern silhouette of Atheism  or sacrificial altar of Scientific Progress and Salvation. )

…Beyond my fingertips yes but not the nerve endings of my the reality of my imagination.

…Extinction still seems somehow out of reach…like the aspirational vote…on the top shelf of the corner shop.

…No-one ever shops there anymore.

…Warming Up as a mammalian being flickering through other forms of alien earthly life?

…Shedding humanity as a destination.

Destiny?

Salvation.?

Extinction?

Perceptually many worlds not one?

“Whoever says salvation exists is a slave, because he keeps weighing each of his and deeds in every moment.’Will I be saved or damned he tremblingly asks…Salvation means deliverance from all saviours…the perfect saviour …who shall deliver mankind from Salvation”

John Gray STRAW DOGS

***

Possibly sometime ago I would have felt a sense of inadequacy in attempting to commit to Rosalind’s  “ Just one Thing.” .

Now I seem to realise I have a tendency towards the inside out.

(My mother who is incredibly superstitious insists its unlucky to change your clothes if you put them on inside out…lately she seems to have extended this in recent years to back to front scenarios.) She is suddenly older.

….I start with a myriad of unnamed constellations and something strangely specific and singular seems to crystallise amongst the sensations.

Rosalind seems to start with some singular, visceral, displacing devotional action- distilling an undefinable, multiplicity of sensation. Somehow her work reconfigures the relationship between the dancers nervous and reflexive systems. 

“For polytheists, religion is a matter of practice not belief: and there are many kinds of practice….

Polytheism is too delicate a way of thinking for modern minds.” 

John Gray.  STRAW DOGS.

In Rosalind’s practice duality and multiplicity to experientially unfold through devotion and surrender through attending a singular perceptual activity.  

She speaks of the duality or oppositional friendship between her dancing self and choreographing self.

Her  fidelity to being moved by singular responsive action invites a dynamic multiplicity created by possibilities of empathetic polarities…movements between oppositional perceptions, or ways of apprehending experience.

She speaks of resting into/ committing to the specific initiation of one definitive   activity – tethering the mind/ brain- keeping it busy- so body can be free to… perhaps not act as its subject.

Sunday Morning…

We begin with SURFACE(s)….interplays of exchange, interfaces- membranes  of sensation…She specifies “SURFACE” not located, dislocated identified as skin, clothing, hair, aura, fat, nerves, space.

This definition is perceptually inclusive rather than exclusive.

We begin differentiating the sense of whole body and a body in parts.

We change channel to our VOLUME– Sensations of our how we are contained within our forms.

“What if the depth is on the surface?” An echo from Deborah Hay.

Our Skin an outer brain.

Our Brain an inner skin.

The skin of a thought.

The mind of sensation/ feeling.

I wonder…What if we our whole being is surface?… internally externally a site of exchange/ interface, a multiplicity. Each organ, nerve, vessel, muscle, orifice an intricate accumulation- a series, a family of surfaces. Every cell of our body…an intricate, responsive folding of surfaces, membranes, skins of connective differentiation.

I inhabit my Volume. I feel my Surfaces.

I inhabit my surface. I feel my Volumes.

I feel myself one…I become many.

I feel myself as many…I become one.

“Opposition is true Friendship”

Marriage of Heaven and Hell. William Blake

PERFORMANCE

a partial lecture about a partial history 
an unfinished dance by a saturated body 
an ongoing practice exposed

Rosalind’s meticulous distillation of perpetual actions….materialise in her performance. Framed at once by immediate incremental intervals… and over the history of her dance reaching into other dance worlds and practices. 

Films are shown as a windows into different fields of her work- the fluid electrics of her nervous system seems interconnected as other instruments of attentiveness ….perceptual apparatus.

My daughter sits on my lap and laughs as Rosalind enacts a live commentary on her actions- a self reporting journalist. Each moment and action swallowed up by the channelling of next event. The struggle between words and forms shaping and shedding..dressing and undressing of destinies… shedding of destinations.

She speaks about the dancer being carried away by the dance- like a babe in arms. Perhaps she speaks of marriage- of fidelity rather than faithfulness. I feel the meaning… yet I fail to remember the vows….the vowels without consonants…constants. Perhaps she is speaking about different types of love, liberty and dependancy…all intrinsically, synchronistically intertwined.

There is an ending…She speaks of riding through forest, as a girl on horseback…and the revisitation to the devastation of the wilderness she once was carried by and loved. She shows film of herself dancing, moving in the bodies of felled trees- laid waste.

It is stark and hopeless in its endurance and truth.

Her humanity exposed and stranded between animal and machine.

She is a helplessly human visitation in a scene of natural devastation. Yet she is dancing. Dancing somehow feels like an authentic activism- where there is no graspable solution.

I am writing this over hearing a conversation between the waitress at the Old Boys Club and a customer:

It is about animal life and meat.

It is about the value of life in the face of death.

He says to her,  “At the end of the day…When the animals are going to die anyway…Whats the point of them being happy and living a good life?”

It is also about ourselves.

My dear friend has given me… hand inked in lovely italics…a sign…

ESPERANCE

Hope is more convincing in French…because I don’t speak french.

Rosalind’s incantations and dances are untampered by representative justifications. Somehow her work channels with a truthful and disarming delicacy, with apparitions  of specificity-  a commitment to the beauty and mystery of the world- of existence. 

Fidelity to incrementals of uncounted time.

She speaks of hands being at the end of your feet.

Being carried by the contact we have with the earth..

The natural world… Out of sight…Out of mind… Out of our hands

But still resounding through our feet 

turning us on the world’s surface/skin- through our animal universals, rather than our human specialisations.

Perhaps we live in an age…where salvation must be reconfigured an act of disarmament…

A shedding of Humanity’s Survival-

A shedding of Humanity’s aesthetics governed by its fears an desires.

Perhaps this is a dance- as much as anything. 

Review Rosalind Crisp’s Unwrapping d_a_n_s_E – by Eva Marloes

It is danse, not dance, because it was in France where Rosalind Crisp realised what she needed to do next. She needed to challenge all the moves and positions that controlled her body after years of ballet and dance training. The one-woman performance begins with a video of Crisp. She moves incessantly. She is a puppet rebelling against her puppeteer. There is an energy inside in search of escape into a movement. That elusive movement is constrained by habits and training. It’s like watching someone running in different directions looking for a way out of a labyrinth.

By the side of the screen Crisp begins to move. A light is shone upon her. There is no music, no sounds, only her breath. Her constant focused movement is gripping. You can’t stop watching her. She begins to talk to the audience. “Sorry I can’t speak Welsh. I’m stuck with English, French, and dance,” she says, “The problem with dance is that,” she whispers, “people don’t understand it.” 

What at first might have felt a terribly serious performance turns into a warm and humorous connection with the audience. Crisp tells us about dance and we respond laughing, smiling, and watching her every move. Her self-irony makes her work true and accessible. There is not an ounce of pretension.

Crisp rocks. Literally. She dances to rock music and then tells us that she stopped doing that because it makes you thirsty and there’s lack of water in Australia. Crisp is striking for her earnestness and deep levity. She is deep, just not serious. She is also poetic in how she describes movements wanting to elope with dancers and the dancer being seduced by the promise of being carried away. She ends with a video of herself on a mound of earth and dead vegetation to be witness to the devastation of the bushes in Australia due to deforestation. Her body cries the loss of life. 

La grande dame of dance, France awarded her the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Dame of the Arts), is funny with no histrionics, gripping with no artifice, and weird, beautifully so.