Day 9 Issues emerging

Issues emerging – welcome discussion and expansion.

  • The different uses of time and space by the two choreographers.
  • The aesthetics of the different movement languages,  classical, fragmented, hybrid, pedestrian.
  • Generic histories of  movement languages.
  • Embodying language, outside in and/or inside out.
  • Questions of performing presence — when the dancing stops.
  • Translation and how meaning shifts between languages.
  • Communication of ideas verbally and bodily.
  • Devising processes:  hierarchical, directorial, collaborative, collective.
  • Writing processes – writing in the present, past and future.
  • Appropriations, expectations, myths, generalizations and ignorances that inform our current knowledge of Chinese/European dance cultures.

Unfortunately I have to leave Beijing before the final day’s showings.  

Although I missed the final day, I saw a full run of both pieces at the end of the previous day. I have these on film, and hope to find a way to upload them.

I was most surprised by Wang mei’s piece. Most rehearsals I had watched over the previous days were spent discussing small details,  and I saw only fragments of the whole. Now I see the piece complete I am  amazed by its tight fit to the music. The movement follows the phrasing and qualities of the Bach music exactly. Choreographically this is clever,  I am drawn to the exactness and the detail and layering of movement, by the fact that the dancers never stand up, that small pedestrian gestures become stylised. However for me, the movement language, which is unconventional and beautifully minimal, loses some of its power when fitted so tightly to the sound score. The piece becomes more like a musical study and loses some of the emotional power I had seen on previous days.  This tight relationship to the music brings it closer to Kerry’s choreography, where all movement is fitted to the music,  and there is only occasional pause for breath. The challenge for the dancers in Kerry’s piece is to find the human-ness in performing the material, particularly how performers look at each other and support each other.  Also, the fast rhythm tends to influence the size of the movement, which gets smaller, therefore the material no longer looks fast.  The challenge is to expand into space rather than tightening, in order to increase the impression of risk taking speed. 

On Day 9 & 10 Naomi and I decided to interview all the dancers. I also interview Wang mei about her choreography.  These will be added as soon as we have transcribed the material. In between inerviewing I watch Kerry rehearsing the dances. Cleaning the material, fine tuning the phrasing, and counts, looking for the stillness, the held moments, tableaus between dancers. Running the piece again and again, building stamina and confidence. Her assured energy in the directorial role continues to inspire the dancers, to keep them going. Kerry understands the need to find a rhythm in the day’s energy, not to flag, not to lose the momentum, otherwise dancers become exhausted. Dropping energy and then having to find it again is so much harder than staying energized throughout the session.  Liminality of time might offer potential as a creative space for choreographers, but for dancers’ bodies in action it is slow road to collapse.  Teachers know this, choreographers tend to forget. Kerry is also a good teacher!

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