Check out my dance videos on Vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/tonychong
When one is so in love with one’s own odor, one can’t perceive or recognize the stink that is imposed on others. Sometimes when an idea is clear in ones head, it does not mean that the idea is clear for others. Often the conceptual does not reflect the reality of the product. Never assume the obvious and never disrespect the intelligence of your audience.
It has been more than a four years since I’ve danced a whole evening’s show and now I find myself learning a piece in four days in order to perform it in Vancouver. Louise Bedard Danse called me up yesterday telling me one of her dancers is out with a serious case of bronchitis and needed a replacement asap for her tour of the west coast!! Tried to come up with some names but everyone was already busy or elsewhere then suddenly out of left field (insanity most likely)…. I volunteered myself. Now I haven’t been dancing seriously for years and my mind has not been in dancer’s learning mode either – there are some serious rust issues here. What a crazy idea to jump right in to dancing once again and especially in a high pressure short working/learning period. Louis Bedard’s work is very complicated and dense. The piece will not be a walk through the park as she packs in so much within an hour and a half. This piece Enfin Vous Zeste has six dancers, lots of demanding movement, choreographically complicated, and a live musician on stage…. and I’ve never seen the piece until last night on DVD. Well there is nothing liking plunging oneself into what the world has to offer at each given moment. Woohooo, lets go for a ride!!
Here is an excerpt of the research in February 2008 of the new piece called Bloodletting and Other Pleasant Things that will premier on October 23, 2008 with the Dancemakers Dance Company in their studios. Will be making lots of changes and improve on many things. Got some great ideas and can’t wait to work on them in September and show in Oct.
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.
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