Over the past couple of days it has become noticeable to me in each rehearsal space that a shift has already occurred in each group from a stage of early beginnings and getting to know each other to ‘setting something up’. The feeling that I got in each space, albeit distinct with each group, is one related to a working with many ideas that yet bring along question marks, uncertainties, possibilities… and the distinct labour that this sort of early work in a process demands. Each group of dancers is working with ideas of beginnings presented by each choreographer, and while the large work remains yet ‘unknown’ to them, small bits seem to have emerged here and there, that are being worked through and through.
Instigated by my recent collaborative work with Susan Melrose, I have been sensitive to the issue of time that this working through material demands. In some instances, as an onlooker, I have been overwhelmed by feelings of sympathy towards some dancers, who needed to work through a particular movement again and again, for instance for London-based choreographer Riccardo Buscarini, who needed to see a particular sequence from many angles from his dancers. His way of working out the material was to look and re-look from four sides, to suggest small changes and move forward, or perhaps backward again. A lot of repetition was involved here, of dancers lifting legs up high, lowering themselves on the ground, twisting their bodies… on their fifth day of working hard as part of Artscross.
I have also been struck by the amount of time being spent by dancers improvising in some of the studios, often independently. Zhao Liang’s dancers, at least when I was present again on Tuesday evening, were pursuing their individual working out of movement with rubber bands stretched across the space, which they had been doing for most if not the whole of the three-hour session on Monday evening, at least. The time being spent by dancers, the time being given to dancers improvising is then, at certain times, interrupted with individual feedback given by the choreographers. These small conversations and working out what ‘works’ seem to me to be part of a ‘teaching’ of the specific sensitivities and sensibilities that crucially make up aspects of each choreographer’s work. Tung I-Fen creates a space for the dancers to also provide ideas from their perspective, of having worked through their material…
Today is a day of rest for the group, which I am sure will produce a further shift in the processes when they all resume tomorrow.