Well goddamn, I think I’ve got a piece after two weeks of work here in Toronto! As with my past works, I’m again exploring a dark and intense place. The point of departure of this creation was to explore the states of rage, rants, anger, brutality in society and how it affects our psyche. There is no denying the fact that I’m pushing the limits in this creation with Dancemakers; it is disturbing, offensive, brutal but in the end I hope it leaves the viewer feeling reflective rather than destroyed. After the showing on Friday afternoon, I believe no one was indifferent to the work or to the dancers’ performance. Some people approached me afterwards and told me how much it moved them, hit them in the gut, and how it left them feeling stunned. There were many who just avoided me, some skipped around the subject of the piece and out of courtesy mentioned certain images that they liked. In reality, the in your face tactic of the piece either captured or turned off the viewer. Some didn’t know how to react to the aggressive nature of the dance and perhaps was not prepared to have their senses assaulted on a Friday afternoon. After watching it with a public, it became obvious where things can be tightened, defined, changed, or even reworked. Overall however, I believe this creation was a huge success in many ways. I was able to explore and push beyond the safety zone because of one thing only; the trust of the dancers. The dancers were so fierce and so willing to go to this place with me and that was the reason why we were able to achieve this with only just 2 weeks of work. Thank you to the generosity of Benjamin Kamino, Kate Hiliard, Kate Holden, Steeve Paquet, Clinton Draper, the dancers of Dancemakers, you rock and it was a privilege to create with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
dancing@ Dancemakersdancing@ DancemakersCan’t believe I’ve already been here a week working with the dancers of Dancemakers! It has been such a pleasure to work with these generous and hungry interpreters. We’ve been just churning out some awesome material that has been very satisfying to the senses. Been working in a non-linear world of dark fantasies and chaos while subjecting the dancers to various forms of ‘torture’ and as a result, 30 minutes worth of material has been generated. There are still many things to try, manipulate, and change but already there is a ‘piece’ growing out of it. The work has a brooding nature to it but doesn’t feel heavy at the same time. I’ve linked sections together and worked out some transitions on Friday, will look at the video on Monday to determine if it makes sense to me. There are parts that I am questioning and not sure of but it was good to put it all together and to see it as a whole. It has become a very physical dance with lots of changes in rhythms. I’m excited about where next week will lead me as I want it to go to a sexier, darker, and riskier place!
Well we are now in the middle of the final week of Chanti’s process. Everything is coming together and taking shape as we head into today’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s showing in front of an audience. It is funny, often the choreographer only begins to truly ‘see’ the work while there are ‘witnesses’ to his/her work. What may seem so clear and ‘obvious’ in their heads may not be so evident to others who are disengaged or are not privileged to the actual process. Chanti has been working hard and doing a great job in making sense of the world that she has created. The work has come a long ways from just a couple of days ago as it is becoming a very interesting study. As well as exploring an idea of nature and man, Chanti’s goal here was to challenge herself by not relying so much on improvisation. She has been using the Lab to its’ potential and has taken advantage of the opportunity to craft and choreograph movement phrases. This has been a good learning process for Chanti as she is learning how to create on a group of dancers that she is not familiar with. I can tell the dancers are at times having a difficult time in this process with their glazed over eyes and subtle signs of annoyance. They have been all very good sports in being patient and professional as this is part and parcel of being an interpreter at Le Groupe Dance Lab. Their role is to be generous and to help the choreographer the best they can and I recognize that can be very trying at times. It is just human nature to be impatient however patience and versatility are the virtues that make a Le Groupe dancer unique and special. I’ve spoken to Chanti about being more clear, to make decisive choices, and be perhaps less esoteric in the directions. Of course each artist has their own method of working and that must be accepted however communication is always an issue that can always be improved upon. It is an ongoing challenge for her but at least she recognizes her difficulties. It is challenging to be here as there are so many pressures that the choreographer must face with their time at the Lab; a short intensive creative time, unfamiliar dancers, a monitor that is constantly on their backs, creative decisions to be made, media, and a viewing audience. I believe the outcome of her process will be extremely valuable to Chanti’s path as a choreographer. Not only is she answering creative questions here at Le Groupe, she is also adapting to different circumstances, situations, and demands. In my opinion whether the work is ‘successful’ or not, this has been a very good Lab.
I am writing this while we are in the studio during Chanti’s process. It is the start of the second week of Chanti’s process and after she had the time to reflect over the weekend of all that she has accomplished, I told her that it is time to narrow it all to what is considered as essential. The theme of her research is about working with the senses, and that she means physically and the surrounding environment (nature). She is very influenced by man’s place in nature and how it affects our way of being. We had a very good talk about really concentrating on ‘creating’ and actual construction of movement and vocabulary rather than relying on only improvisation. This is a challenge for Chanti, even though it takes more time and it forces her to make physical and artistic choices, it is a great exercise for her. I can see she wants to give it up at times but I’m encouraging her to break the resistance. She is working on motifs that have a life and world to its’ own. Not wanting to create a ‘piece’, she wants tableaus. The challenge for her is to bring these motifs as far and as far it can go, don’t just touch the surface of the idea. The idea should bring us on a journey, it should somehow reach a transcendence for the viewer, the dancers, and perhaps the creator in some form. I’m sitting here observing her working on two of the dancers, Lori and Alanna. Chanti is working on a ‘dance’ duo that is based on the idea of cause and effect. I’ve asked her to her to craft and create each movement on them and to limit the choices of improvisation. This will be a good exercise for her as it forces her to work and clarify what it is that she wants to say. Continue reading chanti’s process after week one
The company is back in action with choreographer Chanti Wadge from Montreal doing a creative process here at the Lab. I am her monitor/dramaturge/artistic councilor for this process. She has so many ideas of what she would like to accomplish with her research time and it is my job to narrow it down. Sets and lighting propositions are being constructed to deal with her question of man’s place in nature. Or is she talking about how small we are in the grand scale of things? Is this an existential questioning or is does she want to express a sense of acceptance of our place on this massive world? Chanti wants to play with ideas of installation, performance art, and theatricality. Wants to avoid working with movement that is arbitrary but has difficulty doing that without working on just improvisation. She wants to craft or ‘choreograph’ in a formal fashion without straying away from her conceptual idea. The main thing for me to do is find the core of what she wants to try, do, and say. Chanti has so many goals that she wants to achieve here however I have to get her to eventually decide on one clear path. I’ve spoken to her to stop over thinking and analysing as it often hampers the potential for true creativity. Allow the movement to grow and speak then eventually she can start structuring, crafting, discarding, and choreographing. She needs to just generate material, try new things, try new ways of creating, avoid the comfort zone and ultimately to take chances. This may open up new ways of seeing and perhaps open up new possibilities in her work. After her second day, I already see her struggling with this in her head but I believe that it is a good thing.
Had a very interesting conversation with André Gingras’s ‘dramaturge’/director Cici (?) the other day about the responsibility of being a choreographer. She felt no artist or choreographer needs to defend their work or ‘take’ responsibility of that they have chosen to present. I on the other hand believe that artists should at least know what it is that they have created and be able to defend what they have decided to reveal in the public domain. I don’t mean explaining every detail and meaning of what the thought process was in the creation but to be aware of how certain images may be interpreted and then assume those possible interpretations or misinterpretations. Contemporary dance is an abstract art form and is open to individual readings which is one of the reasons why that makes it such a rich and ‘intelligent’ dance style. I just hope that our creators are conscious of what it is that they are representing and can assume those artistic decisions. If I am aware that something is offensive but choose to go put it out there, I must be able to know why I am doing it and be aware of how it may be viewed. There are reasons an artist wants to stir up controversy and it is better to have knowledge and validity in our voices. This has nothing to do with the quality or judgement of the work itself but this is the question of what the responsibility of the choreographer has to him/herself and to his/her public. First and foremost the artist should say whatever they choose to say with integrity. Afterwards, it is the audience who will judge, interpret, understand, reject, learn, or discard the work of the artist. I am more interested in how my work is seen through the eyes of others because I already know my reasoning for creating it. I want to know if my message reads as I intended it to be read or if it takes on another form or meaning. I want to know how it affects, offends, informs, or even interests people. One person may see a man caressing a woman may be viewed quite differently from another. It all depends on our personal experiences and each one of us has many ways of seeing things.