An Inspector Calls Day 4

Good evening everyone.
Day 4 in the studio making my new work for the company, based on the themes in Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls.

The emphasis today was finding the musicality in the sublime The Lark Ascending composed by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Each duet in Act 2 has varying textures and intentions that we explored through music today.  We have taken on the sequencing of the chronological order of events as described by Inspector Goole in the play – the resulting duets are stunning.  The dancers have made them their own and are really something most special.
Tomorrow sees the last day for R&D An Inspector Calls, more about that next week.
I hope to shoot some film tomorrow to share with you some little snippets.  See you then!

sue lewis

 

True

Weibertreue

Weibertreue

With just over a week to go, I’d like to share the thinking behind my new work for the company – True
It’s a quartet for the whole  company very loosely based on the German folk tale of Weibertreue. At Weinsberg, in Württemberg, on the summit of a hill, remain the ruins of a castle; which is also known by the name of “Weibertreue,” or “Woman’s Faith.” During the Guelph and Ghibelline wars the castle was besieged in 1140  by the Emperor Conrad III., who, in his exasperation at the protracted resistance made by the garrison, vowed to put all the men to the sword, but promised to spare the lives of the women, with the engagement, moreover, that each should be permitted to carry out along with her, her most choice treasure.  “The good women were beside themselves with sorrow that their husbands and children were to be burned alive. Therefore they took counsel with one another and decided that each woman would take her husband and children onto her back and carry them outside the city.  They did just that; each woman took her husband onto her back and her children under her arms and carried them outside the city.

Now the chronicle tells us that when the conquering lord saw this, tears came to his eyes, and he spared the lives of everyone and set the city free as well” *

It’s lovely tale of virtue and cunning.  I’ll be setting this to some exquisite Medieval dance music, which will structure the dance into episodes.  As those who know my work well, the music is the driving force behind my choreography rather than narrative, and I’m very much looking forward to getting into the studio with our 4 dancers who are all exceptional at picking up on musical form and dynamic.  However structure and form aside, there will also be humour and wit involved, making this piece come alive from the pages of history and folklore.

I hope you join us on our True journey
sue lewis

*Source: Martin Montanus, “Ein statt würt gewunnen, daraus die weyber ihre mann und kinder tragen,” Schwankbücher (1557-1566), edited by Johannes Bolte (Tübingen: Gedruckt für den literarischen Verein in Stuttgart, 1899), 80, pp. 341-42.

 

Language, images and reflections….

B0001467Firstly, apologies – I meant to write this blog after our first couple of sessions with Gary a week or so ago, but always got caught up in something else. Now, I’m finally realising my good intentions before returning to the studio with Gary this evening – hopefully it will give me some time and space to recap and reflect the thought process we have begun using.

I think one of the things that has most struck me about working with Gary this season is how he is using language and evoking imagery through what he is saying to compel us to explore movement rather than physicalising much himself. Essentially, he is trying not to show us too much so we don’t get bogged down in searching for an aesthetic or codified movement language which appeals to him.

Instead we are currently playing with a lot of constituent parts, thoughts and images to get a grasp on what will work going forwards. So what are some of these things?

First off, we have the solo material which we learnt from video during our time in Abertillery – a linear form which takes us from A to B. This acts as an existing world and reference point that we can improvise from and return to. The phrase gives us a commonality of language – otherwise it is like having 3 dancers in the space speaking French, German and Italian – all valid languages but no-one fully understands each other.

There is also a freedom to stop moving – knowing when an idea has been exhausted and not just continuing to drift for the sake of it. On our second rehearsal day, we taped a performance space on the floor – allowing the possibility to step out of that realm completely. Allowing time to consider and watch from a standpoint completely outside the world that the movement inhabits.

Layering on top of this are lots of images and ideas that Gary feeds in each time we undertake the practice. Here are a few examples:

Having a conversation. The ability to shift the attention between people. Being able to talk to a group but only have eye-contact with one person at a time.

Jumbled thoughts. So much to do – racing through your mind. Inability to hone in on one thing for very long before transferring to the next.

Sediment. Start Simple. Layer by layer – build it up, don’t try to start with a whole strata.

Minority Report. The possibility to deviate from a pre-ordained pathway.

The more images and ideas we have, the greater the temptation to want to try and do everything at once which simply isn’t possible! I wonder what new information will come tonight and how I will cope with processing it…

Effie :-)

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…

Fascination Image Paul Trask Chor Sue Lewis

Fascination
Image Paul Trask
Chor Sue Lewis

It’s always the way with studio time – it seems that you can blink and suddenly you’re nearly at the end of 2 weeks together. Having said that, I feel like these 2 weeks have really allowed us some time and space to progress both Fascination and d-cay, and given us a good dollop of preparation time for beginning work with Gary next week. (Plus a handy helping of pancakes thrown in for good measure!)

With Fascination, we spent last week working through section by section – refining detail and quality and looking at all of those pesky entrances, exits and transitions between sections. This has helped in establishing a sense of cohesion throughout the piece which we pulled together for a run through this afternoon.

This week also saw us getting a first viewing of the film that has been made in conjunction with Catrin’s piece, d-cay. It’s a very striking watch which will lead into the live movement section of the piece. Having seen the film has also influenced the proximity with which we perform a particular unison section – there’s no room for error or else there’ll be a whole lot of stepping on toes going on!

For Gary, we have begun using the duet Sentient Trace which was created for Meg and Catrin last season as starting point. We are now looking at each person’s role in the duet as solo material – it has certainly been a lot of material to take on board and commit to memory. We have tried several different methods of learning the material – initially from video, then from each other with talking and then just with physical demonstrations without vocal explanations. It has been lovely to devote time to this (although frustrating at times when watching the same moment on video over and over until you can approximate a physical realisation) and I’m excited to see how things start to proceed when we come together with Gary next week.

Here’s to making the most of our last couple of studio days in Wales this week and appreciating our time together while we have it.

Effie :-)

Recapping and revisiting…

FFIN DANCE Still Standing Tour 2014 Image Paul Trask

FFIN DANCE
Still Standing Tour 2014
Image Paul Trask

Rehearsals this February have a different feel than usual – rather than using this period to create another piece we are refreshing our memories on Fractal and Stand Up Straight as well as picking up Synapsequence (from Connections 2012) ready to première in March.

It has been really interesting to return to Synapsequence by Gary Lambert as the movement material was generated by ourselves (albeit 2 year younger models!) and so re-inhabiting it feels relatively natural.
Often a comment we get from audience members is that they can’t understand how we retain and remember all of the movement. I was surprised this week by how efficiently we could pick up a whole piece which we had last performed 18th months ago. For me I don’t feel that the memory of Synapsequence was particularly embedded in my brain but as soon as I started revisiting the material it felt as though my muscle memory came into play re-finding these previously visited places.

I found this none more so than with a duet section which I had originally created with Lucille and due to a cast change in the season hadn’t performed since March 2012. As such, I asked Meg to re-teach me my part but soon found that I could remember details and sequentially what happened next with little input needed – fitting back into the movement just made sense in my body, allowing it to happen instead of over-thinking it.

In one section of Synapsequence, we switch from one person to the next for short duets which are specific to each partnership and occur concurrently. When we had re-established the details and connections in each partnership to the extent that we felt comfortable with it, Sue asked us to run through this section with our eyes closed. While this request was greeted with an air of preposterousness initially, we were actually able to manage it for the most part and it gave us a really good sense of knowing our spatial relationship without over-relying on visual feedback. Don’t worry though, we’ll definitely go back to having our eyes open for performances!

So now it’s time for a weekend off (and a bit of time for planning morning class) before returning to Abertillery for week two of rehearsals. Here’s hoping there’ll be no more weather related stand stills on the Heads of the Valleys next week!

Effie :-)

Rehearsal hangover…

IMG_3110So it’s the morning after the night before…or that’s what it feels like anyway! I’ve definitely needed this weekend to recover, but as a result of my actions in the studio rather than any other kind of over-indulgence.

For the latter part of week 2, we began working on Stand Up Straight, a piece which Catrin Lewis is reworking for the company (have a gander back at her blogs for more info), which couldn’t be more different from any of the pieces I’ve danced previously for Ffin. My experience thus far is that Catrin’s concern is less with the aesthetic presentation of material and more with invoking true sensations and physical reactions on a personal level relating to the subject matter of vertigo.

One of the tasks which Catrin has set us has involved standing up and spinning for 30-60 seconds with our heads dropped back and focus up to the ceiling.

IMG_3209

It is the movement that we perform subsequently when we are in a self-induced state of dizziness that Catrin is most interested in – the choices that we make whilst somewhat incapacitated, as opposed to our normal learned movement patterns which result from years of studio time.

Another component within the piece is being able to get over the fear factor of allowing yourself to fall off balance so that another dancer can break your fall and take care of your journey to the ground. This is a moment where it is really mind over matter – all of my instincts are screaming at me to take a step and regain my own balance – especially when I’m falling backwards and can see the dancer who is going to support my fall in front of me!

While I’m used to self-inflicted aches, pains and bruises after rehearsals, Stand Up Straight is really taking its toll on my mind – it’s this headachy hangover which has made me very glad of two days’ rest before gearing up to our third and final week of rehearsals.

Effie :-)

7 days and counting

FFIN DANCE
Laura Mumby Photography

Just one week to go and terribly excited!
Getting back into the studio after a little time away is such a pleasure, having spent the last  2 months planning our spring tour and facilitating the Winter Dance Faktry Festival, it’s great to get back in the studio with the dancers, joined by our Associate Choreographer Gary Lambert and guest teacher Ben Craft*

Having created my new work for the company Missing Pages, before Christmas, we now turn our attentions to Gary’s 2 pieces which form the triple bill for Inspired – Degrees of Freedom and Axiom Tangent.

We’ll be blogging constantly during our weeks in the studio, with inside information about the pieces and also the process.
We have guests in company class with us too, and an under graduate dance student Dan with us on work placement.  Full house.

Hope you can join us and follow our progress

*Ben Craft is a freelance dance artist based now in The Netherlands, trained at The Royal Ballet School.  Ben created and performed solo dance roles with Rambert Dance, Béjart Ballet, Michael Clark and Small Axe and has taught and choreographed widely in the UK and Europe.

For more details on how to apply for our Easter Intensive 2013 and company class please e mail Megan at megffin@gmail.com

sue lewis