Working out ‘the work’ and its logic

We are over a week into rehearsals now and it is fascinating to see small sections of choreographies coming together in the different spaces. The work on different exercises and improvisations that was being done at the beginning of the process has now in most if not all groups led to a first ‘putting together’ of performance material. Small run-throughs are happening here and there, and much detail is being already refined, while more material is being generated.

I keep thinking back to the day of auditions, when the dancers and choreographers from the different places involved did not know each other yet, and how much has changed since then. Now, wherever the practitioners (dancers and choreographers, with their translators) are from, they have spent already a while here in London at The Place, ‘working things out’ together. Over the rehearsals that have taken place so far, the groups have been working on ‘the dance’ and what it might be, and this work visibly involves much else than creating and setting movement.

My attention has been drawn to a ‘working each other out’, both of dancers and choreographers respectively. This ‘working each other out’ and the ‘working out of the performance material’ go hand in hand together, and it is here somewhere that the logics of the pieces seem to be established, or ‘found’, as practitioners often describe the moment when a work seems to attain a specific ‘identity’ with its particular demands. In their different ways, in each of the dance works being created here as part of Artscross, each individual practitioner is highly contributing to what the work is becoming, and working hard at it. In several processes I have witnessed dancers contributing with ideas as to how to move ‘it’ on, working from a sense of felt experience from carrying out the work.

It is a different sort of input that is taking place at this stage compared to the early rehearsal phase, because it seems that a sense of the logic of each piece has already been established, if only vaguely. By logic I mean the ways of functioning of each emerging work in structural terms as well as in terms of the sorts of movement it is producing, which seems inseparable to the ways of functioning of rehearsals. So this ‘working each other out’ has implicitly meant a ‘working out’ of how the work is being ‘worked out’.

And it is here that language demands such a central role in each of the creative processes, as due to the nature of this project mixing up practitioners from Beijing, London and Taipei, a ‘working out’ on the level of understanding each other not only in movement terms, but also in terms of the spoken word and what the individual practitioners bring into the work from their respective places is heightened in each of the sessions. But it has led to some London-based dancers now speaking fragments of Mandarin and certainly vice versa. It is harder and more complex to pinpoint the ways of moving that have been shared across continents, but this is probably what each of the works are about.

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