Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Janusz - Day Twenty Three

2 more days to finish the process. 2 more days before we go to London for the performances. So happy about last two days...

We did couple of runs and the result of it was very positive for me. And I think for the others as well. I know now where are the places in choreography where I should save my energy, where I should really go for it. We gathered quite a lot of good feedback from everyone who has seen it so far. Everyone seems to like it and it is nice to hear people’s comments about what they have just seen. Feels like I am more confident every time I do it. Of course there is always a lot of pressure for everyone and there are still some things to be rehearsed but I can easily say that I build my confidence over the last days.

I am happy.
I am ready.
I want to perform it.
I am tired.
My body aches.
I want to do it.
I want to dance it.
I want to sweat it out.
I want to feel how I feel.
I want to do it well.
I want to satisfy myself.
I want to show myself.
I want to show off.
I want to relax.
I want to rest.
I want to enjoy it.
I want a lot from myself.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Janusz - Day Seventeen

The 4th week of work had just started. We slowly began to put things in the right order as it did not really sit well together a few days ago. It is very surprising when we have already begun to think that all we’ve created and put together works quite good. But new questions arise. From day to day. Everyday... Therefore some things needed to be changed, shortened, got rid off.

Music is loud, beautiful and annoying, we all like that. Patrycja and Matt are always trying to make it work. They are trying to find the right notes, melodic lines, which might work better for some of the scenes or movement sequences.
And there it comes a point about movement and dance.
I don’t really know but I found myself doubting about what I am doing right in the middle of working process. Is it something about being in the middle of working process or my worries just appearing without any explanation? I don’t feel fully satisfied with what I am doing. About the way I am doing it. Dance in Test Run is demanding and I want to do it well, right. It just doesn’t always work the way I would like it to work. I demand a lot from myself but there is certain amount of new stuff I can't remember – I always found it very hard although I never really had problems with remembering things.

So how does it all work?

It’s always easier to search for the most comfortable, nice and easy. And today I wanted it to be comfortable, nice and easy. The way I like it the most.
“You can’t always get what you want” (I think someone said it before or maybe even sang that phrase). Well, shame that I could not experience that today. My fault...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Charlotte - Day Thirteen

This is all too earnest and serious. Christ, what are we doing?

I imagine PK introducing the beginning of the show with something like

"We are going to try something different this evening. An abstract dance. A short piece. A try out. A test run of a simple idea. A suggestion."

I imagine Janusz stopping the dance at its most frenzied moment with something like -

"I can't take it any more. I don't know what you want from me. I don't have the language. I don't know the steps. It's all arms and legs and 4 counts. I can't feel it. I can't keep up. I don't like dancing on my own. What the fuck are you two up to with all the pedal pushing. I am more than arms and legs."

Our problem: is the piece just all arms and legs now?

We do an impro with a sense of apology about the work. What should have been set against what is.

An empty stage. A bit of dance. A bit of music.

No set. No costumes. No real ideas.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Patrycja 24 September 06

After 2 weeks of rehearsals it seems like we’ve got a vague structure of the show. We have found possible frames. During the next 3 weeks we have to fulfil these frames. As usual – through a number of improvisations- we’ve been testing different ideas- some interesting and some hideous, and we’ve realised that the only way to make this show work is to stick with only ONE good idea and build choreography and music around it.

This performance is going to be something new for us, as we usually create shows long, complex and layered, where there is a lot of turning points of action (dramaturgic, psychological and movement wise). 28 minutes only- that’s the longest it has to be. Knowing that we have to invent something which is a mixture of simplicity and cleverness, compact and precisely crafted miniature.

For the first time as a violinist (classically trained) I use a loop station- little smart box which allows me to layer sound of violin and my voice, creating a “one- man- orchestra”. I am aware that this type of technical equipment is not a new thing in the world of music and theatre, but whey! What a joy it is! I feel like little kid who got a new toy, pressing different buttons, turning knobs and messing with meters of cables! (let’s just hope the audience will share my enthusiasm;)…

- does dance effect the music or music form the way of moving?
- are dance and sound blended together, are there moments of resisting, of dancing against the rhythm, of playing against movement dynamic?
- can sound be cruel?
- when to stop? Who is responsible of making decision?


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Charlotte - Day Eight

Push the violin with memories of what is in your fingers.
Push the loop technology as far as it will go.
Push the body. Push the technical capability. Push the duration.
Three sections. Lights are simple. They come on They go off.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Matt Howden - My first blog

Ah, arse muscles I'd forgotten I possessed ;-) I'm in the second week of work with Vincent Dance Theatre now, and really enjoying it. Far more than my arse muscles are. Beware Charlotte's "gentle one-hour yoga warm-ups". Many years since I attempted a 'serious' head or hand stand, certainly without any footie on the telly or a sofa to help. I have that feeling I'm the smallest toddler in the school show, haplessly trying to keep in sync with, and keep up with the rest of the class who appear to know the steps and moves necessary. I think the rest of the company enjoyed the little 'cart-horse' shuffle I have invented. I reckon I am to be the comedy-element of the show, which is more than fine by me. Never thought I would be roped in to playing violin while people rolled over my back, but it is fun. And a real pleasure to try and capture movement in a melody. By the end of next week I am confident even my arse muscles will no longer be complaining.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Charlotte - Day Six

Take JO on an internal, imaginative journey in an improv. An urgent search for meaning in what feels like an abstract wasteland of grids and calculations. This is not how I work. What does all this dancing mean to us?
Its stupid. Clever and stupid all at the same time.
Intention -v- abstraction

PK sings a lullaby. JO fights the need to go to the floor. Its beautiful.

More graphs drawn
Key ingredients
Musicians conjure a dance from Janusz
Construction and deconstruction
Seeing it evolve before your very eyes
Seeing the real people behind the dance

Sitting / standing/ sitting
Eyes closed / eyes open / eyes closed
Voice / violin / voice
Instructions /interaction / instruction
Sleep / wake / sleep

The awake state is the apex of the dance.
Musicians pushing JO, who is complicit in the contract to dance with and for them.
Agreement / disagreement / agreement

Get rid of the grid on the floor. Merce Cunningham / William Forsythe I am not.
Put two chairs in the space. Define the dance area. Distill the ideas down.

Janusz - Week Two

The second week has started. Patrycja was away for couple of days therefore it was just me and Matt working together. Last Friday we did a long improvisation where the main focus was on connection between me as a dancer and Matt as a musician. That was the basic idea but who knew that things could shift into different direction in some moments...

Who is leading?
Is Matt listening to me now or do I need to follow his musical actions and decisions?
Where he will stop playing?
Would I be concentrated enough to stop where he stops?
Am I aloud to go with the music or against it?
What to do to make the movement look different every time?
How not to get stuck in one choreographic idea?
How my body would react to rapid changes in music?
Where does it all end?
Do I have an urge to stop?
Does the movement have to be meaningful or can I just throw it all out?
Should I do what I am told to do or give myself some freedom?

Today Matt left at 3pm. I continued with Charlotte. We began to watch all the videos from last weeks improvisations. Took quite a lot of time to see all of it. Then after watching forth or fifth tape I realized that over first 5 days of working we did A LOT! Every time we took different directions, different tasks, working with voice, with or without violins, trios, duets, some crap (in my opinion) movement section. Mostly very good stuff. If it is about movement or soundtrack. Some things were just perfect (I realized that my movement quality looked a bit different every other day). We have quite a lot of choice if we think about building some structure for the piece...

How much we can fit in 30 minutes of the piece?
What dance should mean?
Is it just “throw away some moves” to end up in total exhaustion?
What if it is just about musicians pushing me to do things?
Would I be manipulated by them and just be aloud to do what I am told?
Should Test Run be only about the act of creating movement, dance?
What about showing the actual process of creating dance?

A good beginning of second week’s work. Patrycja is coming back tomorrow. There were moments when I felt like I need a pair of violins. Missing two violins together in one room. Missing much more that I could ever imagine.

Came back home and did myself a lovely penne with mozzarella cheese, red pepper and mushrooms. I can’t cook very well (many times I think I can’t cook at all) but surprisingly today that tasted quite good. Tomorrow it is time for some potatoes and chicken!


Friday, September 15, 2006

Charlotte - Day Five

Patrycja has gone to Poland for a funeral. I have a sudden urge to make a grid of 16 squares on the floor with electrical tape. Some squares have a word (aggravated/bouyant/restorative/contemplative) or the word PAUSE.

Janusz is encouraged to find very specific pathways through the grid. Lots of counting. Decisions about the hot spots of the space. Instructions from Matt to JO starting with the phrase "I want you to" or "I believe that you".

Interesting accompaniment, a game of stop / start evolves, real listening for the first time between MH and JO. The improv ends with Janusz telling a story about his childhood and Barbie dolls and trucks. I throw in rolls and rolls of gaffer tape to act as the trucks for Matt and JO to play with. Two grown men playing garages.

I think about how abstract it all is. It was good to have real world objects in the space (albeit from the theatre world).
OK, back to the usual questions:

How to make it real?
How to see behind the scenes?
How to make apparent the theatrics of the work, instead of hiding behind the dance?

I start designing light patterns and floor patterns in my head and in my sketch book.

16 squares.
16 lights.
Mathematics - calculations of time signatures over the 29 minute time frame of the piece.
Is the work a series of instructions?

What is the motivation for the movement in all this? Usually I have a clear concept and I feel at the moment like I am just freefalling with it all. We are being rigorous, but I'm not connecting with any of it emotionally. In 25 minutes do we take one motif and explore it? How much do we leave to chance? What are the faces doing in this world of abstraction?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Charlotte - Day Four

Text and movement improvisations - rhythm clapping and presentations.
Directing that takes you up a blind alley but seemed like a good idea at the time.

Matt - I am a composer. I make miserable, sad music. I am an enthusiastic carthorse.

PK - I am a performing artist, a dancer as well and a trained musician.

JO- I am a dancer. I do this because I can't do anything else.

It's a mess.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Charlotte - Day Three

Janusz has sore legs today.

Get up
Get up
Walk Away

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Charlotte - Day Two

A lot of talk about structure. With such a short work, I feel as if we need to work from a sense of time structure backwards. This feels slightly alien, like a game of filling in the time frames with material. A game of filling in the gaps. Graphs drawn and redrawn, mapping the kind of feel the show might have and the kind of shape it might take. Linear? Cyclical?
Stop start.
He is still. He dances. He stops.
Doesn't feel like much of a structure, but that's what we settle for. Seems pretty obvious.
A beginning, middle and end.
An arc with an apex.
A crescendo.

A series of dance sketches based around a series of time signatures
1 (silence)
12 (military)
123 (old fashioned waltz)
1234 (tango)
12345 (eastern Europe)
123456 (fuck knows)
1234567(folk dance)
12345678 (contemporary dance)

Memories of past shows, past choreographies. What do we associate with a 5 count piece? What does a 7 count feel like? Create a series of movement sketches and place them in the room, then travel them in space etc.

Great to have two musicians in the room. Bouncing the counts between them PK on 234, Matt on 1 and 5. Technical exercises. Shifting octaves, shifting chords, dischord and harmony. Both violins are connected to loop stations, so its like having a mini orchestra in here.

The musicans musically follow Janusz's body shifts. He ends up conducting them somehow. The more he pushes them the more they take the music into their bodies. The first time I saw Matt play, I was as really taken by the way his body uniquely shifts as the music swells. He naturally sways and swoops in a kind of off the beat way as he plays. He loses himself in the music. We set up a task where Patrycja tries to follow him choreographically, but his idiosynchratic movement is completely alien to hers. The way she takes her own playing into her body is totally at odds to his.

After lunch there is a heart stopping moment where PK creates her own choral cacophony with just her voice and the loop station. It is truly beautiful. We build up a comfort solo.

Quieten the mind
Janusz go to sleep
Stop moving
Stop moving
Stop fighting the need to rest
Go to the floor
Go to the floor

Monday, September 11, 2006

Charlotte - Day One

Another new beginning.
A smaller group.
A smaller studio.
A new approach.
A desire to make something different.

Janusz - long, lean, elegant, ready to dance after a long summer break in Poland

Matt - enthusiastic new kid on the block, a face that somehow seems familiar, a musical maverick, a joker

Patyrycja - beautiful as ever, energised by a week improvising in France and Italy and somehow more serious than before

Me - slightly ragged after an unexpectedly difficult break‚ during which I spent a significant amount of time managing the postponement of our autumn tour and thinking about future plans

What have I said this show will be about, again? What am I supposed‚ to be making here? What did I write six months ago when I applied for the funding to make this? How have my thoughts shifted since then?

An escalating, looping game of stop/start.
A study of perseverance.
An endurance test.
An act of faith.
A comment on the demands we place on dancers to get things right.
An expose of the moments where things grind to a halt.
A possibility of total meltdown

Test Run: To make considerable demands on somebody, particularly somebody's skills or abilities.

Idea that the solo will be a series of physical problems and musical questions to be answered live on stage by one performer in front of an audience. Idea that the tension within Test Run exists in the act of three people on stage trying to make something work. The dance steps become more complex and highly structured with each new choreographic loop, or perhaps they fall apart as the music more intricate, layered and demanding.

Music and Silence
Movement and Stillness

How to combine the forms?

How and why does the music drive the action forward to begin again, and again and again?
Why do I want to push Janusz in this way?
Who is leading / directing who?
Who allies with whom on stage?
How much do the musicians move?
What are the rules of this game ?

Beautiful and broken down... day one of Test Run!

Here I am again, in Sheffield, in a black studio, ready to start something new, ready to get on a new journey. Ready to create a new piece. Simple beginning and good result at the end of the day. I think so...

I haven’t been in Sheffield for 6 months. I arrived at 16:43 at Sheffield train station on that sunny, hot Sunday afternoon. Sad, excited, worried, happy, alone, full of thoughts, good attitude and ready to meet Charlotte to go for a pint and exchange our first bit of information. What has happened? Holidays, changing plans, arranging houses, flats, plants. Nice chat, good to see Charlotte again, feels like we are ready to do something. In some way...

This morning we all met in front of the studio, having a first chat about what we will or might do. We know one thing, we don’t really know where it is going to take us, there is an idea but is it really the one we want to show? What will this show be about?

We did a warm up together. Nice to connect with everybody again. This time just Charlotte, Patrycja and Matt. After couple of minutes I realized that it is quite a good combination of people gathered in one room. Good spirits, talented people! Shortly I began to think how my body is going to take it (I haven’t been doing much for 2 months), how I will feel as soon as I will start to move. Properly :)

We did some improvisations just to get us moving, to get use to each other, our bodies, abilities, thoughts even. Having in mind that we don’t know what to expect from all of it we just began to dance. or me began to dance more, Patrycja and Matt jamming, looping sounds, changing rhythms, speed, mood. Surprising me and my actions. Charlotte giving information to all of us from the outside. I stop, they play, I don’t want to move anymore, I am allowed to say that it’s enough. I want to go on, they resist to play. I look at Patrycja, she doesn’t respond to my question. Maybe Matt will help me. He presses a button on his looping machine, rhythm start to appear. I begin to move again. After an hour the mood shifts completely. A moment of total exhaustion comes – I don’t need to act it and play it out. It is just there. Am tired, fed up, sweaty, can’t stand on my legs anymore. I decide to sit on the chair. Charlotte puts a track of Max Richter (probably “Sarajevo” from his brilliant “Memoryhouse” album). She asks Patrycja and Matt to play on top of it. Getting loud, good loud. The sound of the violin is so blessing, the voice of a singer so strong. I am sitting and crying. Did not think that it would finished that way. Too tried to hold myself together. Didn’t happen. I just went with it. Maybe that is the result of the performance. You do it, you sit and rest, you think of what happen, you cry that is over, you cry because you are happy.

I am happy of today. It seems like 6 hours of exploring stuff brought a lot and raised quite a lot of interesting questions. How do we communicate on stage? Do we built the piece up to then make it fall apart? Do the musicians move? Where do we break? Do we? At least we know one thing... less is more, and the more is beautiful but broken down. Roll on day two!