So we are now nearing the end of our first week of studio time with Gary Lambert recreating his work Axiom Tangent ready for the Inspired triple bill. Each morning has also seen us take class with Ben Craft, who has travelled all the way from Arnhem to work with us.
This is certainly a treat, not only in terms of the wealth of dancing knowledge that Ben is sharing but also as it gives us a little bit of respite from planning/ leading classes for each other in addition to our jam-packed day of rehearsal!
One of the approaches that Ben uses has been to teach a simple phrase which can be repeated alternating between sides (right and left); once we know the movement he gives us several different directional facings in which to dance the material. This means that we have to really keep our minds in gear and be thinking ahead as to where we are facing next, it is easy to get confused in the middle of a phrase. I think this learning device has been a really useful challenge – it has helped me to build in coping mechanisms whereby even if I do make a mistake, as long as I stay calm, I can quickly adapt and correct myself using visual clues from the space around me and the other dancers. This is also handy for the rehearsal process with Gary as there are lots of repeated variations of phrases to learn often with a sneaky change of facing to catch us out!
In terms of the studio time we have with Gary, it is a very different process compared with last year working on Synapsequence – this time around we are recreating a pre-existing choreography of Gary’s and so must use video footage to learn the material we will be dancing. This in itself demands a very different skill set from us – rather than generating material on our own bodies, we are having to pick up as much detail as we can from the videos (slow-motion playback is particularly handy!) before transferring this into physical information.
Within the piece, there is a lot of duet work and for the most part we are working within the same partnerships that we established in Missing Pages during our last rehearsal period. In Missing Pages rehearsals, Mike and I had to learn several of Adam and Meg’s duets and vice versa so we have already had some experience of learning and adapting material to work in our partnerships. What I have found really interesting in our current studio practice, reconstructing duets from video, is how much more quickly Mike and I have been able to make connections more organic between us allowing the duet material to find a flow. Part of the reason for this is that we are all in the same boat – it is not a case of Meg and Adam already having created their duet and being familiar with it before we try to pick it up. When this was the case, there was always a sense of looking over to Meg and Adam for clarifications – it felt like we were paying more attention to them than each other and as a consequence would miss the real sense of combined momentum by not focussing on one another. Certainly reconstructing from video has been a lot of work for our minds and bodies but I feel that there has been a really positive impact on how Mike and I are relating to each other as dancers.
Now, onto our final day of the week…