[Things have undoubtedly moved on since I scribbled down what I am now shaping into the following observations, but here they are for the record…]

Founders Studio: The dancers chosen by choreographer Ho, Hsiao-Mei include four Westerners. Two of them – Azzurra Ardovini (small, contained and often low to the floor) and Henry Curtis (tall, expansive, rangey) – are in the centre of the space acutely attuned to each other as they move. After they dance there is talking. I hear a mention of raincoats being stripped off to show the individual beneath, and a sense of emotional intention coupled with a certain uncertainty…

They take a break. I speak briefly with the translator who mentions enthusiastically Dam Van Huynh’s work. It is, she says, about electricity flowing in the body and giving off sparks (presumably this voltage is invisible), and chambers both in front and behind the body (presumably to help create a sense of space, or maybe an aura…)

After the break the session continues in a relaxed, self-motivating manner with the dancers in pairs. There are some extra presences, notably The Boy with Green Hair (Huang, Yu-Teng) who is off in a corner working on movement. I note that he is not actually in this piece and wonder what exactly he’s doing here…

There are ways of being close, of making or avoiding contact. Katie Cambridge is pressing on the back of Chen, Nan as he swings his arms. For her the physical problem-solving entails how to climb onto him without disrupting his rhythm. And so with the guidance of Ho, Hsiao-Mei they break it down.

I slip away to the back of the building where the dancers of Zeng Huanxing are tossing small, hand-sized beanbags into the air. Toss ‘em up and they drop, either onto the floor or their individual bodies – the back is an especially good catching place. It’s a gravity lab. Short-haired and bespectacled, the choreographer demonstrates. He’s very adept at it. He seems to want them to do this beanbag-tossing in a very emphatic way – no waffling. It is, he remarks to one of the dancers, a cultural symbol. I admire how physically clarifying things can be when a choreographer demonstrates a movement by him or her self. The bags are also being tossed hand-to-hand – always in flux, never settled. A metaphor, as well as a cultural symbol, is taking shape here…

If, as someone once stated, every dance asks a question then I guess I’m allowed to have questions about every dance. Usually that applies when I am watching a finished and public performance, but sometimes it arises in the rehearsal studio as well.

Some of my questions are merely practical. There’s an extra dancer here too, a young man who at one point does some hand-stands near the mirror. Or maybe he’s in the piece and just not needed for the beanbag-tossing at this particular time…

And then there’s this sartorial mystery: To a pre-recorded a cappella vocal the dancer Georges Hann moves down one side of the room, tossing and catching a beanbag with a contradictory mix of weightiness and effortlessness. Suddenly I notice he has one leg of his tracksuit bottoms raised while the other remains down. Dancers do this rather a lot, sometimes with long sleeves but mainly with their legs. Why is that? Does one leg get hotter than the other? Could it be a style thing, or do I only ask that because costumers occasionally pick up on this peculiar-to-me habit of one limb bare and the other covered? It’s an example, perhaps, of how even the smallest, most negligible things that occur in a studio find their way onto the stage – or vice-versa.

In the ArtsCross office we joke about this, and other matters, later. The jocularity is welcome, even necessary in the midst of so much creativity and administrative co-ordination. I guess it’s about having a sense of humour about the investigations going on here in ArtsCross; taking them seriously, but not so one’s self.

In the studio of Tung, I-Fen the nimble dancer Li, Yi-Chi (whose tearful, halting and utterly endearing speech at the after-show reception on the final night of last year’s ArtsCross performances in Beijing I remember very well) is low down and clinging to a colleague’s ankle as the latter swings round. Other, female duets in the room also seem to be concerned with figuring out ways to catch each other by waist, neck or ankle and then swing round a mutual fulcrum as tingly electronic music plays. ‘We have so much stuff now,’ the choreographer says. ‘Remember as much as you can.’ I leave them shortly after the dancers begin to play with numbers voiced in their respective languages. It is, so I gather, a code that has been quickly developed by each of them. The idea may be that the coded sequences will run parallel or intersect or, perhaps, become disrupted.

After-the-Fact: Group B

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