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NP You once mentioned that Passage mingled the dilemmas you experience as performer, teacher and choreographer?

RL As a teacher, I often set up experiential situations for the dancers that will make them approach their body more holistically which, from my point of view - and my experience as a performer - gets them to dance in a 'better' way as individuals and as a group. In trying to heighten their sensations so that they can become fully embodied by a task, I become caught up in their experience. My dilemma is that, as choreographer, I have to wrench myself away to the perspective of an outside viewer, looking at them have that experience.

For Passage, I asked myself can I not, as a choreographer, bring to the stage something of my pleasure in being caught up in people's responses to simple experiential tasks? I think I have always known that the dilemma was unnecessary; in taking my eye outside, I see that workshop situations have a distinctive, unprompted beauty of dancers not consciously ‘performing’ an activity but experiencing it (1).

NP Can you say more about the nature of ‘not performing but experiencing’?
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Passage rehearsal images
RL In a phrase that was affirmative for me, Nancy Stark Smith described sensation as ‘the language of dance’ (2). I think that all my workshops are rooted in the experience of sensing. For example, I am always asking dancers to sense their back, front, their skin, their outside and inside. At the beginning of a warm-up, I might ask them to brush down their standing partner, then clap friction-warmed hands up and down his or her whole body, disturbing the air to invigorate them. I find that when someone is attentive to sensation, their dancing has a quality that draws me. If then I ask you to ‘perform’ a task, what I really want to see is how you are sensing and experiencing your movement.

NP Did the choreographic process for Passage begin with these experiential tasks that you use as a teacher and dancer?

RL Yes, in a sense. But rather than being about their sensations individually, the process began with their experiences amongst the group. More so than any of my works, Passage emerged directly from the exuberance with which they responded each time we came together for workshops. What you saw in performance - their strong connectedness as a group - was a reality, not a staged invention.

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Passage rehearsal images
NP Looking at the cast schedules, I was struck that there were no rehearsals, only workshops?

RL Tellingly, our weekly workshops and occasional weekend intensives were never described as rehearsals. I conceived of the piece as being based upon the cast's existence as a group. And because of that, I could not ‘rehearse’ until the cast had changed from this unallied collection of people to a group that experienced themselves as close-knit. In my mind, the shared pleasure and liveliness of the sensing exercises prepared the ground for this transformation.

In a sense, to begin the choreographic process, I had to tell myself that I could work with the beauty and the exuberance of the group responses, that I did not have to interrupt myself, stepping back to redirect and shape them. Deliberately and unapologetically, I decided to make a piece by working with exercises that I use with groups up and down the country.

NP What drew you to include in Passage things that happened during the workshop warm-ups, during the phase when people are preparing to begin?

RL Preparation for this piece, in terms of warm-up or of workshop, is not cut off from the performance. I wanted to bring to the fore those workshop rituals that are undertaken by a performance group but that are usually never witnessed except by the workshop leader. That is to say that I think of them as rituals, although the dancers might not describe their participation in those terms.

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NP What do you see as being carried out through the ritual of workshops? (3)

RL What I needed to achieve in the group generally, through the workshops, was a sense of unity and individuality, of understanding and tolerance: for them to accept changes of status and to relinquish control. For example, in the 'conducting' exercise, children use gestures to direct adults, first in pairs and trios, and later the whole group.

NP Gesture can be ambiguous - child and adult must negotiate generously for the conductor to be followed?

RL Yes. Both roles involve tolerance; the director must accept that the dancer may not grasp his or her intentions. Most of the tasks that I use call for this kind of mutual tolerance. I take the stance that even small movement tasks offer possibilities for self-development. In these tasks, for example, unless you can find a state of active surrender and tolerance, a state of letting go without passivity, the potential for liberation sours in frustration.

NP Going back to your question, heightened sensation is also an aim for every workshop 'ritual'. For many years in workshops I have done exercises where you place your hands on your partner to help him or her find a deep physical focus. Control is differently relinquished in these exercises, such as 'blind-leading' (where you close your eyes, trusting your partner to lead you) and 'tails' (where you follow your partner through your hand on the base of their spine). By helping your partner, you in turn are helped to 'listen' to how she or he moves. In trying to 'capture' the experience of your partner, you can find yourself letting go of movement habits and judgements.

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Passage rehearsal images
NP Could you say more about the ‘tail’ following, as this appears many times in Passage?

RL As I recall, my reason for doing 'tails' initially in the workshops was that your sense of centre is strengthened in dancing accompanied by someone whose hand is at the base of your spine. You become more receptive to risks and find more opportunities to go off balance because you are grounded in your centre and so can regain your balance dynamically. (Dare I say it - you are ‘centred’.)

Correspondingly, by being a 'tail', and surrendering uninhibitedly to your partner's flow, you discover other movement states. Joan Skinner might describe this experience as the 'supple state'; an alert, relaxed state of mind and body, imaginatively open in a way that is vital for my choreographic process. (4)

NP Yet the following tasks are more than a strategy for making dancers receptive and responsive - perhaps even malleable - to your choreographic process?

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Passage rehearsal images RL While the tasks could be viewed in those terms, they are also helping people to become comfortable and co-operative with one another. 'Flocking', for instance, was primarily a task of letting go that I felt we all had to experience so as to accept each other as a group. Watching from the outside, I found myself strongly drawn by the image of people moving as a pack. I am always fascinated by what happens to movement when dancers give themselves over to following, letting go and leading, or listening, receiving and giving. In this way, tasks such as ‘flocking’ both engender a broadly supple state and are the workshop rituals that I brought to the fore in Passage.

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Egg dances
Egg Dances
(pic. by Philip Grey)

As we talk, I can see too that on one level I was doing all the workshop exercises to stop the dancers from being in some sense too controlling. On another level, the exercises give them space to discover new territory. Leading on from that, I wanted to encourage a sense of each person - including the children - democratically and individually within both the piece and its making.

NP Can you say how you approached this?

RL For example, I deliberately made space to listen to the children's opinions more and to try out their suggestions, something that I might not usually have time to do. Status change tasks contributed too since, for example, when adults follow children as ‘tails’, children learn to lead and are given more authority than usual.

Some of my first images for the piece were of the authority and intensity of children, of adults harried and shepherded by shouting children. Much of my work, particularly Infanta (1998) and boy (1995), is concerned with the power of children. Workshop exercises like ‘conducting’ and ‘tails’ gave me ways to approach those ideas for performance.

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Egg dances
Take me to the river
(pic. by Pau Ros )

Passage rehearsal images

NP You mentioned that Passage revisited Egg Dances (1988) in which the children are quiet and undisruptive?

RL Yes, I suppose I was trying to prepare the children this time so that they would be comfortable enough to be not on their best behaviour.

In making Take Me to the River (1999), I worked with children whose performance I knew I could not 'polish'; they would always be urchin-like, whispering and looking at the audience. As dancers, we learn to shape our energies, whereas a child's energy comes and goes in bursts like a geyser.

In Passage, I wanted to celebrate their impulsive energy, allowing a lot of play in the workshops and asking adults to take on the unfamiliar dynamic.



NP Earlier you said that you also wanted to achieve a sense of unity through the workshops. Can you say more about that?
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Passage rehearsal images

Passage rehearsal images
Passage
(pic. by Pau Ros )

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RL I wanted you to feel that they are incredibly close as a group.

NP Yet you were starting out with a group of strangers?

RL Exactly. I wanted the audience to feel that this group were - not a family, necessarily - but a nomadic caravan of people who had been together for a long time. I partly had in mind, perhaps naively, an idea of a group whose history stems from the landscape that they are travelling through, like the Saxons whose bones might still be in the soil of Norfolk where we filmed. Yet the particular landscape shown is historically ambiguous, scrubby heathland not explicitly marked by human habitation. When on the film this contemporary, culturally-diverse cast walk down across the ridge, I am thinking that some modern upheaval has scattered them from their homes.

NP Does this sense of the film landscape as part historical and part ‘no-time’ link with how you used folk dance structures, such as the daisy chain?

RL Yes. I would agree with the poet and musician Michael Donaghy who described traditional forms as ‘the shape of the dance, those verbal and rhythmical schemes shared by the living community which link it to the dead and to generations to come.’ (5) Simple folk dance forms can, I believe, be a basket flexible enough to hold both individual expressivity and collective experience - perhaps even a collective unconscious, if such a thing is possible.

For Take Me to the River, I had a fantastic assistant, Suz Broughton, who led group warm-ups that built into lovely folk dances. (Perhaps her warm-up had an impact on my approach to Passage?) You would feel immediately part of the group, touching one another individually in a form that is structured, not self-consciously 'touchy-feely'. 'Stroke the back of your partner for four, turn and walk' - straightaway you felt as individuals within this community, having fun together according to respected codes. Folk dances seem to be in our bones as forms by which to maintain and confirm unity with each time you greet and dance with everyone in turn.

To set up a ceilidh or folk dance can often seem contrived within the context of a dance rehearsal. In the first Passage workshop, a simple folk dance evolved spontaneously out of improvisation - a joyous daisy chain. That this real sense of collectiveness should happen on the first day was an extraordinary affirmation of my hopes for Passage. Watching that daisy chain from the outside, I saw too the beautiful dance of how they passed one other and changed partners.

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NP You were seeing that the nub of Passage might already be in the collective experience of these workshop dances, rather than in what would develop out of and go beyond them?

RL Yes. Moments such as the first daisy chain definitely helped to develop closeness for the group, the liveliness of their community. Beyond this, though, I think I was compelled by a quality that related not only to the collective experience but also to what I said before about deepened sensory perception. My idea in all these exercises was to encourage the dancers' awareness and sensation of both themselves and each other, particularly through the organ of the skin. While in many sensing exercises they were becoming aware of each other's presence in non-verbal ways, in the simple folk dances that awareness is not always channelled through hands-on contact.

Their trust in this possibility of experiencing contact as a group when not physically touching, makes them dance, I think, with awareness of not just their action, but of their relationship to the environment within which they dance. To focus on your non-tactile contact with other dancers is to have a more elemental awareness of the air between each of you, and of the ground you move across.

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Passage inspiration image
from Journeys to Glory
(pic. by Adam Bujak)

Passage inspiration image
from Journeys to Glory
(pic. by Adam Bujak)

NP And is it this more elemental awareness that situates them as a group travelling across an exposed landscape?

RL In first thinking of Passage as a nomadic group, I never questioned that they would instinctually have knowledge to survive, that they would be attuned to atmospheric pressure shifts, seasonal patterns, approaching weather fronts. One might say that the workshops were my way of heightening the cast’s perception of their environment, of remembering these sensations. I am aware in myself of how my connection to the environment has shifted as an adult in an urban space from how I was as a child, with the time to be transfixed by a dewdrop rolling around a cabbage leaf.

NP Hearing you, I am wondering if your fascination for children’s intense energies, that we spoke of earlier, relates to the sensory alertness needed for living outside of a domestic setting? I remember as a child a sense of absorption in my surroundings, lost in sifting for cowries or waiting for a cricket to leap.

RL Yes, an immersion in your surroundings - I wanted to achieve such a connection for a group to the landscape. Many years ago, I bought a book of extraordinary photographs that I have always thought has influenced my work. (6) Grit and sublime are intermixed for me in its images of ordinary people making epic journeys - beribboned brides, families wading through rivers carrying children, groups making Easter pilgrimages in Poland. The singularity of purpose shown by these people creates, I think, powerful connections within the group and to the environment. That image of people of all ages gathered together purposefully on a long journey was what I hoped to achieve for Passage.

NP It seems that you are saying that how they are as a close-knit, nomadic group is inextricable from how they sense the land across which they are travelling. Like a flock of migrating geese, to belong to a group is a condition of finding the way?

RL That may be right. Sensing your connection to the group and to the environment, are not separate for me, but co-productive experiences. The workshop tasks that encouraged unity and acceptance of status change simultaneously extended each person's sensations. The group cohesion in, for example, flocking or tailing, has the strength of purpose that I see in those photographs of Polish pilgrims. Correspondingly, by heightening awareness and connection as a group, sensation opens up to your surroundings.

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NP One might imagine that to focus on sensory experience would exile you to solitary 'inscapes'?

RL Indeed, and so it was important to heighten sensation in group-based partnering work. I did try to allow for everyone's individual worlds, and yet to place them within a collective one. I spoke just now of 'following' in terms of the group experience, yet it is also of taking on the essence of another person through your skin.

NP At first, I understood the sensing exercises in terms of warm-up, of preparing them physically to begin working. Yet increasingly they took on more resonance?

RL I realised that more and more I wanted to keep watching them, say, clapping the air around one another. As rituals of preparation that deepen awareness and enter you into different sensory states, the warm-up exercises are like shamanic rites or trances.
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Passage rehearsal images

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NP Rather than simply warming the muscles before performing, they create transitional spaces in Passage, redolent moments of anticipation?

RL Yes, as when an adult holds a child close before sending them out to dance alone or when two women cluster around the younger woman as if to dress her ritually as a bride.

NP I sense anticipation and preparation differently in the ‘Touch the air’ duets, although I am not sure why. While they seem extraordinarily open to every sensation of the environment, are they also questioning, probing, that experience?

RL The 'Touch the air' duets were created out of my desire to keep watching a sensing task that evoked a connection to the landscape. The task was to 'touch the air, test the water and catch the breeze'. Although I didn't yet know the soundscore for Passage, I played John Luther Adams' In the White Silence when the resulting phrases were combined as duets. His music carries for me an Alaskan tundra landscape of northern lights and seabird-calls caught in the wind. Film-maker Peter Anderson and I were already considering filming a Norfolk landscape for its extraordinary qualities of space and sky. It was revelatory then to place that expansive sound alongside duets that so heightened sensitivity to the air around the dancers.

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Passage rehearsal images

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NP How does Gladys use a 'touch the air' motif when she leads 'flocking'?

RL I had an idea that she would ritualistically test the air, to sense an approaching environmental change, as we were discussing earlier, or to decide whether the space was ready for the dancing. The others would 'comb' the space until she was satisfied.

In The Invisible Actor, Yoshi Oida talks about how every day he sweeps the rehearsal studio as a ritual for the start of the day. (7) 'Combing', an idea from Nancy Stark Smith, is for me a similar act of preparation that I use in workshops to blow away people's cobwebs or wipe the slate before entering a new exercise. In Passage, it becomes more about a chasing, rushing energy that acts structurally as a swipe edit, like a tide racing in or wind catching up the debris of dancing. What was important for me originally was rather the sense of anticipation that follows if a space is swept clear. I had a sense that Passage would be about preparing for something - a ritual, a fight, a death - I didn't yet know for what.

The image for Gladys came partly from thinking of how, before a sumo wrestling match, salt is thrown down to prepare the ground. I imagined that Gladys would test whether the ground was ready for combatative energies for which she would act as impartial referee.

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Passage landscape
Orkney
NP Thinking back to what you said about nomadic knowledge, I remember that you described 'combing' to the group as a weather front crossing the space, leaving behind fresh charged air, and of animals sensing a coming earthquake or the time to awake from hibernation.

RL Those images were crystallising as I began working with Luther Adam's music, ‘Earth and the Great Weather’ (8). I was thinking of the stage expanse of the Queen Elizabeth Hall as a vast elemental landscape, like that of Orkney, uninterrupted by hills or trees. Even as people can sense change in their environment, so they produce it. With visibility to all points of the compass, you will see new weather fronts moving in; 'combing' organised clear movements of people across the stage space, like a weather front or an army on manoeuvres.

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NP I think that the attention to sensing and anticipation gives me a peculiar sense of Passage as a nervously alert system. When the dancers 'display' in response to a sensed threat, I am expecting the piece to at any moment retract protectively, like those ferns that curl away rapidly from touch. How did you come to the ‘display’ image?

RL The 'display' idea came through knowingly revisiting an antler motif of an earlier piece.

NP The image brought to my mind a Joseph Beuys sketch of a tiny skull in the antlers of a dead stag.

RL There is in fact a Christian story of a stag with a crucifix between its antlers appearing before a saint and his hunting party. Perhaps Beuys was alluding to the story? As a child, I was mesmerised by a print on the wall of my Quaker Sunday school of a medieval painting which shows the saint, resplendent in ermine, kneeling before the stag. My teacher gave the print to me, and so I grew up with that image in my bedroom. I had not thought of that in relation to Passage's antler displays until now, but the image may well have been in my subconscious.

I had used the antler display idea previously in exploring pas de deux forms in a piece for Transitions Dance Company with - perhaps not coincidentally - a Medieval-sounding title, Three Studies in Courtship (1997). Medieval paintings and tapestries depicting gardens with often a woman and a white hart influenced the making of Infanta - Peter Anderson and I had an impossible idea of filming albino peacocks and deer in a garden.

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Deer antlers metaphor

three studies in courtship
(pic. by Chris Nash)

rehearsal image

Encapsulated for me in the image of antlers interlocked is a deer's incredible combination of strength, grace and fragility. Extremes of strength - and the weakness behind - preoccupy me often when I am making work. In Passage, I asked the group to take up aggressive-defensive, display postures, to deter a predator, attract a mate or guard a territory. Working together in pairs, it was through hand-stuck partnering that we uncovered the brittle tenderness and fragility behind the threatening display.





The image of deer specifically might also have been in my mind from remembering a Robert Frost poem that I love, 'Two Look at Two'. The poem describes a moment when an animal stops fully and looks at you, that magical sense of strong animal-human connection (even if in actuality it is an anthropocentric projection). Passage has at times, I think, a shamanistic sense of contact between animal and human, of dancing that takes on or is possessed by an animal's energy.

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Passage rehearsal images
Passage
(pic. by Pau Ros)

Passage inspiration image
from Journeys to Glory
(pic. by Adam Bujak)





NP One of the first ideas in your notebook is the image of a child stalking or antler-teasing an adult's solo. Does the animal-human connection overlap with your interest in children's energy?

RL That may be true. My idea there was that children would break the intensity of adult interaction - shambolically subverting the extremity of adult emotions to which they are present without being ready to experience. That said the root of 'planky' is a sense of a child possessed by a raw energy that adults might envy. Samantha holds herself completely stiff, eyes closed and arms tightly crossed, as if she has gone into a trance. In her solo too, Samanatha channels her energies in such a way that she could look possessed by their intensity.

Returning to what I said before about negotiating my dilemmas as teacher, performer and choreographer, it is interesting that animal images appear often in my teaching. My first inkling of how they can speak to a dancer came from a class taught by Bonnie Bird while I was a student at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance. Rather than instructing us anatomically - 'lift up, tummy in' - she would say, 'your ears are pricking up like a fox's ears', and that would affect your whole stance. Those strategies of becoming, of embodying an image, particularly of an animal, work for me as a dancer and teacher, but also very much interest me as a choreographer.

NP You have mentioned several images and ideas from earlier works that you consciously decided to revisit in Passage. What was it about them that you wanted to bring back?

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Egg dances
Egg Dances
(pic. by Philip Grey)
RL Until recently, I couldn't see the threads of my work clearly. Now, I can recognise recurring themes and motifs, shapes and qualities - of hands, of listening, of crouched shapes. It seemed to me that some of these ideas could have another life, one that I consciously wanted to explore and consolidate in Passage. I first consciously revisited old ideas in making Treading the Night Plain (1996) but surprised myself in wanting to keep revisiting older pieces.

With Passage, I was seeking a less harmonious counterpoint to Egg Dances; the two works deliberately share a similar breakdown of age and number of dancers, and one of the adults in Passage, Matilda Leyser, in fact danced as a teenager in Egg Dances.

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Passage rehearsal images

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NP Could you give other examples of ideas revisited for Passage?

RL I was, for example, partly reinvestigating three duet relationships from Three Studies in Courtship which in different ways concern push and counterbalance, dependence and trust. Of the three duets, one was a fiery, combatative relationship, like stag-beetles pushing head-to-head. The second was a tender duet of delicate counterbalances, like the fearful dependency and connectedness of first love, while the third duet was a more playful folk dance.

While these were images and relationships that I still found resonant, I will revisit other ideas pragmatically because they help the performers to approach their dancing in particular ways. The task of jumping over rolling oranges, for example, was one that I first used for New Springs from Old Winters (1987), a large-scale community project that was distilled to become Egg Dances. While researching rituals for spring-winter, life-death and end of darkness, beginning of light, I had learnt of a folk tradition of jumping to avoid rolling eggs.
Shifted into rolling oranges, I used this task again in Treading the Night Plain as well as in Passage, as it gives the dancers an energy from the floor that interests me. What is important for me is not the image of rolling oranges, but that the dancers break out of movement habits and explore an impulse to jump away from the floor, rather than leaping up into the air.

In workshops I often try to connect people to air and to earth, encouraging them to open up through the 'headstring' of their vertical axis and to root down through the soles of their feet into infinite space and depth. Increasingly though, I am interested in this leaping impulse, of energy rising out of the ground like spring-sap.

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Passage rehearsal images

NP That detailing of impulse as coming to the dancer from the environment, could account for how, in the combing and embattled displays, I see air as compressed or cushioned in front of the dancers?

RL You are seeing them eating into the forward space, aware of the air in front and behind? My work has a strong thematic of forward and back extremes. I adore pushing, meeting people strongly and sending that force forward, and the exhilaration it brings to contact work. In Body Mind Centering terms, I think this energy is called 'kidney strength', exerted through the palms of your hands. I wonder if it is this forward pushing energy that you are sensing in the combing?

NP I remember in one rehearsal, an exercise of pushing forwards into your partner's palms, sending them backwards through the space. Directly afterwards, they joined hands to comb the studio, as if propelling before them an invisible line of partners.

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Passage rehearsal images

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RL An attention to the forward space is there too in the 'angel-monster' peeling. Curiously, the peeling was not an image I had planned for. It came from moving as a pack with a fluidly changing leader, exploring escaping and coming back. I was thinking about nomadic journeys and trajectories - how much of a route would you need to keep the group going if they all escaped and came back? I don't remember exactly how it happened but Matilda suggested the 'angel-monster' image, adapted from a drama workshop. Perhaps I had the image of running forward to see something, and then Matilda suggested the peeling?

NP That quality of escaping and reforming a moving line is still immanent in 'peeling' with
the line converged to a single point?

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Aside from the 'angel-monster' image, it seems that you meticulously planned for much of what happens in Passage, both in terms of consciously revisiting earlier work and of how you prepared the dancers. Were there things that surprised you about Passage?

RL In some sense, my approach to the process was deliberately to try to give the possibility for the foreseen to happen. We have talked already about the daisy chain that happened spontaneously in the first workshop. The men's copying line too first appeared as an unplanned game within a loosely structured following warm-up. 'Fluff-blowing', although not used in the performance, was a much-loved game devised spontaneously during a lull in one of the early workshops. The enthusiastic and giving nature of the cast were at the root of all these delightful, unexpected moments.

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Other things did surprise me, for instance, that the movement is so saturated with abstract, organic forms, snaking and flocking, or drifting like weed in a river. Another surprise was in the images of hands; I had been conscious of them only as functionally important, giving focus to tail following. Not until the first performances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall did I realise that I was watching their hands as much as the following. I recognised too a link with images Pete had suggested for the film, of hands covering faces, that evoke for me both grooming and of closing a person's eyes at death. Hands thread through other images; in 'touch the air', in hands cupped to mouths for the 'silent calling'; as antennae, crests and ruffs for the displays. Sleeping heads on the film are also pillowed by hands, and when the sleepers awake and leave, their hands push into the earth. I am remembering now a painting I think by Fra Angelico of the ‘Torment of Christ’; Christ's head is surrounded by hands that seem desiring both to touch and to torment him.

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NP You have frequently commented on how important the cast and their vitality was to the making of Passage. Could you say more about why you gathered that particular cast?

RL Every performer was chosen for his or her extraordinary energies and presence. With Passage, my challenge was to shine up the compelling individuality of each within the strength of a group. I remember at the beginning being alarmed - how would I ever be able to find cohesion between such widely differing individuals? Passage was fully the result of their collective and infectious generosity that made the workshops such a ‘party-time’ pleasure.

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Passage publicity shot
Passage (publicity pic. by Pau Ros)

Passage rehearsal images
Passage
(pic. by Pau Ros)

As individuals, I was aware in many of the cast of traces of archetypes such as the bride, matriarch and joker. One woman, for example, had the regal, composed quality of a young bride that inspired my awe and reminded me of Stravinsky's 'Les Noces'. Another I perceived as a wise matriarch, although she has softer energy within the piece than I had expected. My hope was to enhance the beauty I saw in each performer: the candid innocence and compassion so rare in a young man; another’s avuncular, mountain-goat energies and astonishing curiosity; and the independence and playful assurance of a child who is a leader. As with Three Studies of Courtship, I was thinking too of love relationships: a hesitating youthful love, a sparking passion or a graceful mature relationship that leans in with mutual support. The three younger children, I thought of as elemental energies: the fast spinning energy of a quick burning fire; the delicacy and airy wisdom of a swan or goose; and the fierce intensity of a roaring fire that has taken root in the earth.

NP And all these multifarious qualities and energies of the cast spilled over from the workshops to the stage?

RL Yes. If I had to take a single instance, my sense of Passage is encapsulated in how the cast prepared as a group for each performance. In the early workshops, we had played games of invisible catch, for which we imagined the ball to be a precious secret that we caught safely and passed on. Before each performance of Passage, the group played ‘the secret’ - a workshop moment kept back from the stage. Passage was starting even before they stepped on stage with a shared secret. Experiencing this moment became the group’s collective ritual of preparation. (However, it must be said that there was much giggling and messing around in reality!) The structure of passing the invisible ball was itself a simple folk dance, affirming them as a community. On entering the stage, workshop experiencing does not suddenly shift into some other mode for ‘performing’. Sharing ‘the secret’ unfurls into a simple daisy chain; Passage moves out into the landscape.

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* Photographs from Journeys to Glory. Photography Adam Bujak. Text Marjorie Young.
New York: Harper and Row, 1976. ISBN 0-6-069733-4.
** all Passage pictures are by Pau Ros
*** video excerpts from rehearsal documentation filmed by Peter Anderson
Side notes

1 'Experience something or perform it? That is another dilemma for me. I will ask dancers to experience their movement as if it as if it is for the first time, yet I don’t know if I can do that myself. The question raises many performance issues for me.' Rosemary Lee.

2 Nancy Stark Smith in a workshop.

3 '[R]ituals, however they are defined, are not just expressive of abstract ideas but do things, have effects on the world, and are work that is carried out - that they are indeed performances.' David Parkin, Understanding Rituals, ed D de Coppet, Routledge, 1992: p.140

4 Joan Skinner in a workshop.

5 Donaghy, Michael. Wallflowers, A lecture on poetry with misplaced notes and additional heckling. The Poetry Society, 1999, p.7.

6 Photography by Bujak, Adam. Journeys to Glory. Marjorie Young. New York: Harper and Row, 1976.

7 Yoshi Oida with Lorna Marshall. The Invisible Actor. London: Methuen, 1997.

8 with John Luther Adam’s advice and consent, Jon Lever re-mixed a shorter version of ‘Earth and the Great Weather’ without the text.
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Credits & Info Workshops Passage Introduction page Rosemary Lee home page Notebooks capture secret matriarch hands clearly energy shaman display ritual air sensation dance caravan children preparation dilemma workshop conv00.html cred.html worksh.html nbkThumb.html r_lee.html
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