Thursday, 21 July 2005

Working at Sadler's Wells: Zero Degrees

Akram and Sidi Credit Carl Fox ©Carl Fox

Unfortunately I cannot make my living with only dancing, so I work as an usher at Sadler's Wells theatre. Sadler's Wells is a big scale theatre with 1600 seats and has mainly dance performances, from big names like Pina Bausch, William Forsyth to classical ballet companies. Last week, we had Zero Degrees by Akram Kahn and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Akram is a pioneer who creates an original form of dance as an integration of traditional Indian dance, Kathak, and contemporary dance. Sidi Larbi is one of choreographers/ directors in a physical theatre company, Les Ballets C de la B.
One of good points of working as an usher is that we can get to see a show as part of the work. I was looking forward to seeing this performance because I know both of them are great choreographers and performers although their styles are so different and original. So I was curious what kind of work they can create together. I watched the performance on the first night with lots of expectation, and then I found it so slow and too loose. It was like watching a rehearsal and I could not hold myself for 70 minutes and fell asleep at some point. The choreography looked still its early stage of the development, and I did not like the fact. Although life-size silicon dummies created by Antony Gormley put some special meaning to the performance, I did not get the point of the work. My second watch was totally different experience. The performance by Akram and Sidi Larbi got so much stronger and surer, that was able to convey some thoughts and feelings. Also other reasons are because I read the programme and listened to the talk with them. So I had some idea what they were dealing with already before I watched the performance. For me it was interesting to question if a contemporary dance piece should make sense without any explanation by the creators, or it is ok to justify the work with more explanation. Also I noticed again that how performance quality could affect on the quality of work itself. Even though same people perform, the work looks completely different depending on how they perform. I had to feel that a big production like this is lucky to have many performances. They can improve themselves while they perform. Thinking about myself, a small production has only one or some performances so every performance needs to be the best. Do Akram and Sidi Larbi consider themselves lucky?



Hallvord said...

I think Contemporary Dance People are too worried about explaining things. Perhaps too much analysis may ruin some of the "magic" of dance but on the other hand often an intellectual understanding of what you watch makes for a richer experience.

I'd love to see this performance. I've read about it. Envious :)

Anyway, take care of yourself and don't be afraid in these days of fear and worry for London.

katsurabbit said...

I like contemprory dance works that I can understand without explanations. I want to see the pure power of dance!

I have heard that the Zero Degrees is touring internationally but don't know if it is going to Norway. They are coming back to London at the beginning of 2006 so if you happen to be here by chance you can watch it!

Yeah I wish London comes back to normal soon...