Wednesday, 17 August 2005
The Vyne Dancers
This is new experience for me. Radiance one -Topos is a site-specific project with Carol Brown. We are going to have a performance in a place where there will be the Woking Galleries in 2007. In 2005 autumn, they start the construction, and our performance is a kind of ceremony for that. The performers are three professional dancers include myself, about ten of over 50s ladies, and children (don't know how many). So our job includes some workshops with the local people, and I was allocated to do two workshops with over 50s group, The Vyne Dancers. The first one last week was with Carol, and this week on 16 August, I had to teach on my own. The Vyne Dancers consist of different age and physical abilities, but they are all nice and caring ladies. Also Carol gave me a clear task, so I was quite OK to lead a workshop. The session was just an hour and half, and there was a danger of getting too relaxed, not doing much... They are chilled out ladies. I focused to achieve what I wanted to get done: The ladies needed to learn a phrase of dance, and to refine it. The movement phrase is half created by Carol and half myself, and it focuses on the body parts lit by light objects worn on the ladies left wrists.
Some people already know that I am so fascinated by use of imageries for movement and I am so fussy about movement dynamics and quality. As I was teaching these ladies, this side of me started being loud, and I had to tell them some images and what kind of dynamics I wanted. It was interesting for me to see how they responded to my directions, and I loved the individual way of responding. I felt I knew what kind of person each lady was even though this was the second time to see them. This is the great thing about dance.
WOKING DANCE FESTIVAL, RADIANCE 2005-2007
Tuesday, 16 August 2005
Sadler's Wells, 21 July-14 August
Coming back to the daily life after two weeks away in Germany, the production that was waiting for me at Sadler's Wells was Adam Cooper in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. This is a big production that covered three weeks of the summer season in this prestigious theatre. It is special to have that long period of performance here, as normally they change a show every week. Adam Cooper had a success at Sadler's Wells with Singing in the Rain last summer, which brought many families and others. Compared to that, Les Liaisons Dangereuses was very quiet, partly because of the dodgy situation in London. Always it is interesting to see the audience from an usher's view, and this time, I found there were more elderly people than usual. From Japanese point of view, the 'Adam Cooper & elderly people' does not make sense. But here it works as 'famous old story & elderly people'. Yes, that would be it.
This production has gorgeous huge sets and costumes. Here I think of the sponsor, TBS, one of the biggest broadcasting companies in Japan. We workers at Sadler's Wells all enjoy the Japanese ladies who come and see a show everyday, that can be either Adam Cooper or Mathew Bourne. It is very impressive how keen they are, so it really makes sense that TBS sponsored for this Adam Cooper's show and they had a premiere in Japan.
I enjoyed the set by Lez Brotherston. With or without an intension, the gold screens reminded me the Japanese traditional Noh stage, together with the chorus on black dresses and masks, holding up torches. These visual elements effectively shaped the madly formalized 18th century French high society. The music by Phillip Feeney was also very impressive although sometimes the shift between each scene felt fragmented. The music had the biggest role that manipulates the atmosphere and energy on the stage. I did not like the performance itself as I felt it did not talk to me. I have seen three Adam's productions, and I think he is good enough to smooth things up and make OK shows, but he is not brave or creative enough to make people surprise or move. I just don't feel anything. I like his legend Swan in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. And I wonder when his great performance happens again. Now he has pursuing another way as director-performer. And it is said generally that a great performer is not necessarily a great choreographer or director. They are very different jobs.
The Yellow Wall Paper is a project I wrote about on 7th July, and the performance at Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich took place on 3rd August as part of the ICKL conference banquet.
Our leader Caroline has developed my costume for this day, and we had additional strong collaborators: Jairo and Nicola: they made a wall paper to be hanged on a window as you see on a picture above.
The performance was intended to be more like happening than presentation. We did not expect everyone to watch all the time because of the situation of a banquet. People would eat, talk, walk around etc. I thought our performance could enrich the evening together with other aspects of a banquet.
Based on this idea, we had three parts of performance: 1. When people came in to the place, 2. After the dinner, 3. Later after a while.
I was going to improvise in the environment I was given: the Victorian room with three big windows, the costume converted from lampshade, and the wallpaper, looked quite enough toys for me to play with. I was pretty sure that I could improvise without problems. And it was not a problem at all! Actually I had a problem with some tasks that I had to do to convey some story or to develop the relationship with Dorit, another dancer. If I tried to follow the tasks, it killed my imagination. No space to play. This started happening in Part2, and Part3 was completely ruined by that. I enjoyed improvising for 40 minutes in Part1 and quite many people stopped by and watched the performance. Towards Part 2, 3, less and less people. It was because of the light in the room that got darker as time passed, and the energy of people and the banquet as well. There are many aspects to think in advance in this kind of setting, but it is difficult to guess how it is going to be without trying out things. Ideally I wanted to rehearse properly with the costume and the wallpaper in the space. While three visual artists spent hundreds hours to create their work for this day, two dancers seemed to be lazy. But anyway it was a good try. Very unusual setting and I could see more possibilities of a performance like this.