Day 3 Exhaustion!

day 3 working it out!


Summary. After a very creative and energized day yesterday, everybody is tired — the dancers are exhausted. So the day does not produce so much material. Even so, what does emerge is ample for a day working at this level of complexity.  The day focuses on the relationships between the dancers and Kerry, a playing out of power dynamics, who has control of time and how.  There is good rapport; laughter and generosity circulate between them.

I walk into Kerry’s rehearsal near the end of the morning. A Zoë Keating track is playing. Dancers are working on duets.

The task:

Make obstruction duets. Using ‘elbow phrase 1’ from day 1, dancer A attempts to complete the phrase. Dancer B interrupts, intervenes, attempts to stop dancer A from performing the phrase. Roles can change. Compose this material. The terms stop, obstruct, prevent, encourage the quality required – fragmented, broken, jagged, complex yet playful and relational.

The music Kerry is using as texture during her process include: John Adams, Max Richter, Zoë Keating, Deru, together with Wayne’s Random sound tracks.

Kerry does not look happy. We chat. She is very tired from lack of sleep. The dancers also. They arrived this morning unable to move, exhausted. It took over an hour to get them with her.  So she is rethinking her plans for today, in order to allow dancers to rest.  The duet task this morning allows the dancers to talk with each other and this is giving them energy.

Early break for lunch.

Noticing one’s own process as a choreographer and how that affects the dancers — this is part of the relational process for creative contact.  There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’, we are all in this together and how we meet each other requires respect, awareness, enquiry and presence.


Kerry discusses starting points for this afternoon. She shows me a folder with 22 transparencies, 22 diagram drawings of a city. You are the City, Observations, Organisation and Transformation of Urban Settings, (Petra Kampf 2004). Each transparency represents another interpretation. The 22 diagrams are divided into four categories: ‘Cosmological Ground, Legislative agencies; current, Flows and Forces; Nodes, Loops and Connections’ (p.11).

‘Cities are an everyday invention. They are informed and imagined by many people at a time…. Cities are an open stage for complimentary and conflicting encounters, and allow for multiple identities to emerge and evaporate. They are backdrops for dreams and desires, a platform for departures and arrivals. … Cities are impermanent – they are in a constant state of transformation, in which unpredictable changes keep their structural organisation shifting from one state to another’… Cities need to be viewed as transitional entities in which their local is to be found in the idea of moving points, animated by different forces that interact with the urban construct’ (Kampf 2004 p.2).

For Kerry, this notion of the city is the quality she is looking for in the work. For me, the notion of complementary and conflicting parallels the discussion we are having with the dancers on linearity and fragmentation.

She is also playing with a title: ‘Cleave’, suggesting a contradiction between piercing/ cutting and adhering/being faithful.

Kerry explains the transparences to the dancers.

We are looking at one transparency today. Lets take this one.

Working as 6 people, choose one journey; follow any of the lines of movement in the transparencyBut work together.

Without much debate the dancers agree on the line they wish to take.

How are you going to represent those jagged lines?

Where is your audience?

The task:

Work as if you are one person.

There must always be two people in the air being lifted.

When one person comes down another person comes up.

Lifts can be quick, but as soon as one comes down another goes up.

All 6 of you have to working, so join together.

If you are not lifting you are working to change places.

You will find yourselves laughing; I want you to take it seriously, not to miss the possibilities.

Every person needs to be in the air twice.

It should have a watery kind of feeling and it needs momentum.

You can work with flow, impulse — show me Chinese flow.

You are one animal, you move together.

Working as a sextet the dancers begin to work the task – and yes, much laughing begins the process.  Kerry is close by, engaged, anticipating. They begin to get more serious, talking, constructing, and resolving clumsy potential.  I wonder if they have had any contact improvisation?  Possibly not! They construct the lifts looking in the mirror. They play, create, and fall, thump. I am interested to notice how they relate, who is in, who is out, who has the power, who makes decisions. Without understanding what they are saying, they appear equally involved, working things out together.

I wonder about improvisation rather than construction. Yet, in a sense, constructing in this way is new for them. Usually they work with harmony and flow they are very skilled at that. So this awkward sticky playful design is creative conflict – the flow can be added later.

I leave Kerry to go next door to Wang mei.

I come back as Wang lei is performing his solo.  He is dynamic, strong, dark, dramatic, makes bullet points. He is fluid yet weighted, into the ground, sultry.

Kerry works with Wu shuai on his solo material. Kerry crafts, shifting directions, dynamics, changing arms, placing of feet, elaborating the material, directions in space and deciding on eye focus. In contrast to Wang lei, Wu shuai is a light dancer, particular, petite with delicate finesse.

Today Kerry has added two more nuggets to the repertory of material.

14. Obstruction duets.

15. Water sextet (based on the architectural transparency).

Kerry talks through plan for tomorrow.

She is thinking — no new material, but dancers teach each other material, a giving of gifts, teaching and learning, which will bring greater ownership of material.

Giving the movement away brings closer ownership.

Kerry is on the edge of beginning to structure and craft the material. The music is giving her suggestions as to the order of material.

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