Jonathan Burrows Mentoring Course


From 4-8 December 2006, Charlotte Vincent joined a small group of established dance makers to take part in a one week intensive mentoring course led by choreographer Jonathan Burrows at Findhorn Foundation Community curated by Bodysurf Scotland. In Moray, Scotland. This week offered an opportunity to reflect on personal practice, focussing on what is at the heart of the work we make and how best to clarify our sense of purpose. The emphasis of the week was to lift participants out of the daily grind and encourage them to remember why they started make work in the first place and to stir new thoughts about practice.

Mid week participants were treated to a performance of Both Sitting Duet with Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion.

This week in Findhorn kick started the beginning of a new working relationship between Charlotte Vincent and Liz Aggis, and initiated ideas for Double Vision.


Notes from Choreographic Mentoring week with Jonathan Burrows at Findhorn Foundation Community, Moray, Scotland

What is choreography?
Choreography is mark-making
Choreography is the relationship between compositional ideas to create an aesthetic identity

What is the choreographic process?
Choreographic process is a series of choices crafted together in time and space to form an ordered or disordered whole.
Choreographic process is about decision-making
The answer is already in your body – learn how to listen to it.
The answer is already in the room – learn to listen for it.

Notes and thoughts
If you have you have a thought however stupid, don’t be shy to say it.
Don’t sterilise the perfect moment through choreography.
Use and abstract language, without abstracting yourself.
Where is the ‘you’ in the work?
Stop working in semaphore.
Can we construct the natural or is this plastic and unnatural?
Sentiment not sentimental.
Childlike not childish.
Let the audience come to you.
Make one choice at a time.
If you try to do everything you will end up with everything.
Don’t be led by ‘shoulds’ – there is no prescription for developing ideas.
Go back to the concept – it will offer you the answers.
Go forwards and out to the edges.
Surprise yourself with clarity.
What is the difference between being object and subject of your own work? Can you be both?
Make transparent the construct / framing of the work.
Develop an awareness of framing – not a conversation but a representation of a conversation. Stripping away the illusion – is the work self -reflexive / self reflective?
Try Being it not Doing it.
What is the Text of the work? What is the subtext?
Stillness and Dance – you need both.
What options do you choose to read a moment, a scene, a production?
Subjective / Objective – always questions around this.
Contract with the audience – is the moment of dance or the moment of transformation explicit?
Continuous movement feels redundant. Explore the need to be still. (Andre Lepek’s Exhausting Dance)
Live space and screen space are framed differently.
What is the most appropriate language for what you have to say (Liz Aggiss)?
Is this concept actually a radio play rather than a dance for example?
How does the visuality of the performer sit in the space?
Don’t get bound to the conventions of dance.
Is the space the piece or is the dance the piece?
Is the concept conjoined to the form/genre of presentation?
Can dance do some things and not others?
Accept the limitations of the form.
What are the rules of the game?
Is this dance a private world that locks other people out?
Does this hold attention?
Is this predictable? How can you fracture the predictability?
What is the premise of this work?
Take and idea and worry it to death.
Layering process. How does it function?
How would you make a phrase that starts at the beginning?
Concept – Context – Contract with audience – be clear
Translation – interpretation as starting point.