I’m picking up from where I left off in Part 1, in the studio with Vera Tussing and her dancers. How are they working together?

So far, it looks like Vera has worked on improvisational tasks (mostly, it seems, to do with giving weight, and with a kind of proposal-response structure), so that the substance if not the design of the choreography comes directly from the dancers. It’s a well-used choreographic method, and an effective one. Heterogeneity is built into the process – and this is, after all, a pretty heterogenous group of dancers. What emerges from the process comes from the people in the group.

The people in this group, I sense, are still struggling, though I find it hard to place where the problem is. Perhaps it comes not so much from generating material, but sharing it. Vera has begun to shape the movement into flows and patterns, to give it coherence, but in order for it to look natural the dancers need both to duplicate each other’s movement and to look like themselves. Vera has already given exercises whereby one dancer initiates a move and the others follow by echoing more than by imitating; but the look isn’t natural yet. The units they’ve built together are, she says, still “a collection of fragments”. Something needs to change in the relation between the dancers and the dancing. “I’m trying to make friends with this material,” Vera says. “Let’s try to become friends with it.” I guess I’m watching a particular stage of creation: the introductions have been made, but bonds have yet to form.

A lot of the moves look fairly simple – leaning away from an outstretched arm, falling down, a kind of boppy stride – but there’s quite a lot going on. Vera has used some rhythmic and evocative music in the exercises, but she’s tried replacing it with silence, or with more “noise”-like sounds, because she wants the dancers to embody their own dynamic. “Be each other’s beat,” she suggests. She has also split the dancers into two groups of three, who dovetail and criss-cross fluently. There’s something quite entrancing about watching these trios, because – I sense an “ArtsCross” metaphor coming on – it’s like seeing the intersection and interference between parallel worlds.

There’s definitely a choreographic shape forming here. It seems a bit bitty still, yet I sense it coming together – soon. Right now (3 August) something is emerging but not yet cohering. It still feels like a jigsaw puzzle. I can see the pieces, and I can see they could make a picture; but I can’t yet see the picture.

Part 3 – yes, this will be a trilogy! – to follow shortly

The medium of choreography is people… Part 2

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