With the premiere of Hyrdrargyrum just days away, the dancers and I have been working away making the most of the remaining rehearsals. On tour I have been exploring different ways of refining the performance quality required to portray the themes I have been inspired by.
The starting point for my creative period during December and January was a play with power created by tension, awareness and movement between people. This power expresses itself in various ways as it builds and diffuses. Having 6 weeks in the studio with 6 highly committed dancers and the support a experienced Rambert staff I feel I have been able to take us all on a journey and discover very specific qualities and textures the piece is now built on.
Before the physical creation of the piece I had almost a year of developing the concept, overall structure and design of the piece with my collaborators Aleksandra Vrebalov (composer), Jon Bausor (set and costume design) and Charles Balfour (lighting design). In this process we explored how the piece would affect the audience, dancers, musicians and what their journey would be.
Tomorrow we finally join together all the elements we have been rehearsing, imaging, drawing, writing and painting and get ready to share Hydrargyrum with the public.
New Victoria Theatre, Woking | Thu 3 - Sat 5 Mar 2016
Theatre Royal Brighton | Wed 16 - Sat 19 Mar 2016
In the end of the summer..Working with Aleksandra Vrebalov
I had worked with a piece of music called …hold me neighbour, in this storm.. In my piece Hold me in 2009.
After stumbling across the piece in the Kronos Quartet compilation Floodplains, I was hugely grateful when the composer Aleksandra Vrebalov was most enthusiastic and generous in giving me permission to use it. We managed to have the piece performed live by the Rambert Orchestra. This involved for one of the players to learn to play a Balkan string instrument, which had to be sourced especially.
The piece also included recorded sound and the voice of Aleksandra’s Grandmother. It is full of tender emotion, vibrancy, but also violence and wild energy of folk music.
I loved working with it.
I happened to give birth to my son on the day of the premiere and never saw the piece live, but had a great resonance from those who were there.
So now five years later I was commissioned to make a work for Rambert repertoire and had the wish to make a moving, driven piece that would connect to the audience on a human to human level. I had a strong feeling the Aleksandra would be the right person to join me on this journey.
Since the beginning of the year we have worked on our shared concept and eventually structure in many Skype conversations. Aleksandra lives mostly in New York, travels a lot and also spends some of her time in her home town of Novi Sad in Serbia.
In August I had the pleasure to visit her there for a few days to work on our piece.
It was a short trip, much to take in and much to work on. The visit made a strong impression on me. I somehow felt strangely at home, maybe some of the Austro- Hungarian influences in the architecture are copied in my own small hometown in Germany. This brought it very close to my heart that the conflict that happened here did not take place far away in a disconnected realm, but in a place of shared influence and history.
The trip was less about learning about the place and more about soaking up impressions of this time together that no doubt will find their unexpected ways into the work.
We got some great work done talking through the quite detailed sketch of a score Aleksandra had already created. Listening, imagining, responding and also making some big decisions, which we would never have been able to make without spending these precious few days together.
I cannot wait to hear more and more of the score now and most of all to dive into physically creating this new work. Just a few weeks now!
Some of what happened this summer…Speedy and fun work with BA2 students at LCDS in July and Sadler’s Wells Summer University 2nd Edition
In July I had the pleasure to work at the Place to create two short pieces for the BA2 Students, which they performed in an in house sharing. These happened to be some of the hottest days of the summer and we had intense, sweaty sessions.
We created two contrasting works. In week one we explored flowing spiralling movement swarm like formations, ripples and cascades.
The second week was focussed on directness, impulses and the power generated by syncing up in rhythm as well as intention.
In both weeks I was really happy to experience the dancers entering the process with energy, playfulness and creativity and was rather proud of what they achieved as individuals and groups in a short intense period.
Later in July I was able to take part in NMC- New Movement Collective residency at Doug Aitkin’s Station to Station Festival at the Barbican Gallery. This was a first for us, developing work with an audience present as well as extended time creating in the same space as our collaborators.
We will be back at the Barbican in November as part of Serious Play inspired by the World of Charles and Ray Eames Festival.
Sadler’s Summer University
In September I was fotunate to take part in the second edition of Sadler’s Wells Summer University.
This is a course run by Sadler’s Wells, directed by Jonathan Burrows and Eva Martinez that will run for 4 years and give a number of partitioners the opportunity to reflect on their own and each other's work.
The first iteration of the course has left me full of impressions, inspiration and a sense of relating ideas and concerns that cross over the diverse spectrum of genres, backgrounds and practices that the individual artist are bringing to the group and also how each is forging their own path.
An absolute pleasure to be in the presence of such inspiring and diverse voices.
Photography Top: Connor Scott © Stephen Wright. Bottom: Clemmie Sveaas in Collapse by NMC © ScanLab Projects
Oh, wow! He won it!
I’m back on my way to Sadler’s Wells this morning still smiling after watching Connor Scott perform my new solo Ride at the BBC Young Dancer 2015 finals on Saturday and consequently winning the award.
We have only been working on this short new piece over the past few weekends and it has been an absolute pleasure to watch Connor rise to the challenges I set out for him. I wanted to introduce weight and flow to his distinctive style and create a solo that would show his strong stage presence applied in a new way. In this work he has to continually shape the stage space with the intention, precision and dynamic of his movement and focus.
This has been a very exciting project for me since there were many aspects to consider. I wanted to use Connor’s natural ability and also show him in a new light. I also needed to satisfy my own wish to bring a piece of art to the stage, giving a short intense taste of what my choreography is about.
We started the process with improvisation around the theme of light and energy penetrating the body and affecting its movement and pathways. This opened up a sensation led quality. We then started to create movement with the intention of interplay between the energy that we imagined to fill the space and the body: sculpting the space and allowing that energy to manipulate Connor’s movement. Later on we defined the focus as part of this whole picture. There where many layers of experience to tap into and texture the performance. Structuring the piece to the music we decided on clear switches between the qualities we had discovered. All this made the piece quite a task for a young dancer and Connor rose to the challenge beautifully.
The music by Geoff Holroyde and James Holroyde was an edit of a piece we had collaborated on before Solo. It gave Connor a dynamic range and pulse he could deeply connect to. It also challenged him to maintain the soft, liquid underlying quality, even when the movement and music were pushing him to his extremes.
He performed the work with a great deal of maturity allowing himself to be truly present and drawing the audience into his journey. When he received the audience response to his performance all I felt was joy and pride of what he had achieved in such a short amount of time. Connor winning the award was the ultimate bonus for me, but at this point I was just so happy that all the contestants had delivered their work so beautifully. I thought they had turned the competition into a wonderful celebration of the dedication, love, creativity and artistry they had achieved. Amazing!
This was also a great showcase for the work of the six emerging choreographers. I'm hugely grateful for the opportunity! What an experience. Best of all, I love the piece I created for Connor and I believe he does, too.
You can watch the final on BBC iplayer at - bbc.co.uk/iplayer (Ride appears at 1h17min)
So, now back to Sadler's Wells now to prepare for the premiere of Mark Baldwin’s Dark Arteries with Rambert this week! Exciting and busy times!
I'm also reworking my piece Solo for Draft Works Platform (not open to public) at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House on 19th May with Rambert dancer Vanessa Kang.
This work was originally a personal challenge for Antonette Dayrit. It's a fantastic opportunity to reinvent this piece for a new dancer responding to Vanessa’s own way of moving and thinking by defining tasks and a performance approach that will make the piece a quest just for her.
Next month on the 3rd June I will present No.2 Void a new duet for Estela Merlos and Stefano Rosato, commissioned by Dance West for their Ignition Festival at the Rose Theatre Kingston. This performance brings together 6 new works by emerging choreographers plus guest performances by BalletBoyz and New English Ballet Theatre.
To book tickets (£5-£16) visit - rosetheatrekingston.org
More about this process soon..
Photography © Stephen Wright (From top - bottom)
Connor Scott in Ride for BBC Young Dancer 2015, Vanessa King in Solo and Estela Merlos and Stefano Rosato in No.2 Void
This is my first ever blog entry. My plan for this is to record and share my journey through the busy waters of multitasking mummy artist as I head towards my first repertoire work.
2015 has started with a feeling of great anticipation, knowing that in the end of the year I will have begun the rehearsals. I used last December’s Evening of New Choreography to explore a particular winding and spiraling movement quality as well as swirling and spiralling patterns for the spacial organisation of a small group of dancers in my short study No.1 Convergence. I had the opportunity to further explore these ideas with the full company for a whole week in the studio this January.
The dancers were amazingly receptive to my ideas, tasks and experiments and we had a great week exploring some possible starting points and searching for playful, creative and also more systematic ways to connect to the core of the material I was after. This material was all about connections: connections between the dancers and visualising connections within their own bodies. We also played with a variety of dynamics beginning to search for possible counterpoints.
This is a very special moment for me. I have been a dancer with Rambert for more than 10 years and have used this time in the company, whenever I could, to work on my own choreography and present work in Rambert Evenings of New Choreography. I'm also one of a group of dancers who founded NMC New Movement Collective, challenging myself through collaboration and site specific work, whilst exploring alternative working models by creating collectively.
I have always felt most fulfilled when I'm in the studio working with dancers exploring and shaping a work and have long known that this is what I want to do most. At times, juggling my role as Mother, Choreographer and Dancer has been challenging but striving to make the most of the present has proven to be fruitful. Last year to my own joy and surprise I was commissioned to create a work for the company. So, here is this amazing opportunity to do exactly what I hunger for in the most professional of settings.
I feel gratitude, a sense of achievement and a quiet realisation of the steps I will have to take to move from small étude and miniature work to making a work for the main stage and tour. I am excited out of my skin and having spend a week with the dancers more than a year ahead of our premiere makes it feel all that much more real. This has been invaluable time to give indications to myself, the dancers and creative collaborators of the direction our first steps together are leading us in.
The journey has begun!
Photography: Stephen Wright