This weekend saw our final couple of rehearsals before we get on to the main stage on Wednesday. The piece really started to come together, partly because we were able to begin to play with some of the technical elements a bit more (ably and excellently supported by SW’s tech team), but also because the performers attention is increasingly shifting towards the ‘doing’ of the work, and away from a concentration on remembering it, or hitting technical marks. This is important for Forest as in this revisited version, as in the 1977 original, it hangs together around their shared connection to its atmospherics, rather than to musical, timing, or narrative cues. As I watch them, I can sense them feeling out for where one another are in the space, and the flow of their movement together – that strange, premonitory connection that dancers have, and that we feel connected to in watching them.

In his notes, Bob once again made reference to animals – elephants this time – and to how, regardless the size of the creature, its movements connect and relate to one another, foot to foot through spine, torso, knee, tail and so on. Part of this is because the animal’s movement ‘just is’. It doesn’t learn its movement, but does it in response to its environment: the shifts in the surface it’s on, the movements of the herd, the presence of a predator, and so on. Its attention is ‘out there’ in the world. Although dance is always learned or ‘put on’ the body somehow, as I watch the Forest performers, I find that I connect with them most as their attention goes outwards, through the movement. ‘Positions don’t mean anything’ Bob told them, ‘the dance is in the transitions’, in the doing.

Moving to attention

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