Thursday, 26 November 2009

Sweet Spot 2

With Sweet Spot, I've been checking that I am guided by my artistic instincts and not by a therapeutic intentions. One of the ways that I thought I could be true to my artistic instinct is that I would use this project to learn something and to push myself into a new area of practice. The piece is called Sweet spot and in it, I’m trying to explore joy. Of course, joy for me doesn’t mean jubilation and hilarity but it is a departure. I’m doing that because I have grown comfortable in the darker emotional terrain and that comfort conditions the work that I make. While Sweet spot may end up in that terrain (and putting a solo before and after the film is probably going to do that!), I hope that by setting off in the direction of joy that I may end up somewhere I haven’t been before.

I’ve also tried to integrate some of my experience in China in my work with other people. Through Tai Chi, Qi Gong and my collaboration with Xiao Ke, I’ve been trying to assimilate new movement information into my own body. This was the first time that I tried to pass that work on to others.

I taught Tai Chi (Wu form) to all the performers and it proved a good common ground for professionals and non-professionals. It also helped us to start rehearsals with a particular calmness that may not have been jumping bean joy but that felt like edging closer to a sweet spot (or maybe what I think is a sweet spot).

It’s interesting that for Niche and other recent projects, I haven’t led a group warm up, providing instead space and time for the performers to prepare themselves as they wished. In doing so, we started rehearsal as individuals sharing a space. Doing Tai Chi together on the other hand created a common space and a common point of departure.

One of the elements of the piece that feels right to me is a moment when the group of women sew and stick together a blanket of autumn leaves. Connecting to the natural cycle and celebrating the autumnal phase seems particularly appropriate to this group. There's an element of the fairytale in the image too - Rumplestiltskin, Babes in the Wood.

Sweet spot

For the past three weeks, I’ve been working on a commission for an evening of work called Triptik.

The evening is produced by Ríonach Ní Néill and her company Ciotóg (in association with Project Arts Centre) and it will take place in Project Arts Centre from 15th-19th December. Ríonach also runs the Machusla Dance Club for over 50s and has been finding ways to extend the club and her own artistic practice by involving club members in her work. For a triple bill, she’s commissioned me and Rebecca Walter to make pieces that include performers from the Machusla dance club and professional dancers.

Accepting the commission raised a number of questions for me since I wanted to work out how I could be true to my artistic instinct and practice and still work in a way that respected the input of all the participants.

I’m still in the middle of the creation process since I decided to make a film for the performance which James Kelly of Feenish Productions is directing. We’ve completed the filming but now the editing has to be done and while I did some of the choreographic work to generate the material for the film, there’s another choreographic job to be done in determining the rhythm, structure and tone of the film. I also intend to add a live element to the performance and expect that will take the form of a solo for Stéphane Hisler as a prelude and coda to the film.

I decided to add the live element since the film features only female performers and, as with Niche, I wanted to add a kind of balance to that gender dominance. I also imagine that the solo will be a counterpoint to the predominantly group activity of the film and consequently introduce a different emotional colour.