Matthew Sandiford is a final year BA Hons Dance student at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London. He is an old friend of the company having spent time with us at Intensive programmes and following our performances over the past few years. He is currently undertaking research in rehearsal techniques. The following conversation was the result of an online interview that we had recently.
My I.P (Independent Project) is based on the use of unison within choreographic works and the want for perfection. To make myself clearer the question I’m asking is; ‘Can I ever achieve perfect unison within my works? & how will my rehearsal techniques benefit this?’
The whole process I’ve been looking at finding perfect unison and discovering just how particular I am with details.The questions I’m asking you are as follows;
1.When choreographing/rehearsing a dance work involving sections of unison how particular are you with the unity?
2.What do you believe perfect unison is? & Do you believe it’s possible to achieve when working with different bodies?
3.What rehearsal strategies/techniques do you use to improve and ensure unison is at its absolute best?
- At FFIN DANCE, we spend a lot of time with intricacies and details in terms of both esoteric understanding and technique. We will devote a lot of time to achieving good unison believing that one can create something very special with more than one person performing the same or similar material, at the same time.
- To me personally, I believe that unison isn’t just about the same thing at the same time, it can also involve similarity and complimenetary action and accompaniment. For instance, dancers doing similar movements to similar places in the music.
- Yes I do believe that unison can be achieved working with different bodies. Of course timing issues and spatial issues need to be addressed for it to appear united to the onlooker.
- Before repetition is employed in rehearsal, there has to be a clear understanding from the choreographer to the dancers.After that we spend time filming the sections so that the dancers can take action individually on discrepancy (iPads and iPhones are brilliant for this!). Finally we will use good old-fashioned repetition and notes ad infinitum to achieve the desired quality. As much of our work centres around musical correlation, unison can be more easily achieved. However in our new work Five Dances, there are silent sections performed in unison, which have required a lot of mutual trust and kinesthetic awareness. Needless to say, this has taken a lot of all of the above strategies.
Image Paul Trask