Archive for the 'Training' Category

11
Apr
18

Alchemy

 

Alchemy

Zen Zen Zo & Festival 2018

Southbank Cultural Forecourt

April 5 – 8 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

ALCHEMY is the fourth collaboration between renowned Australian composer/musician Richard Grantham and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre. ALCHEMY is an exploration of the ancient process of transforming base metal into gold. A potent metaphor for the Commonwealth Games, ALCHEMY celebrates the journey towards realizing our full potential, and the power of transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers along the path, weaving their way through the inspirational soundtrack, until they finally “spin out of nothingness scattering stars like dust” in the dramatic climax. This is a moving performance work that is a meditative homage to the long passage towards greatness.

 

The highlight of Brisbane’s Festival 2018 – a performing arts program staged at Southbank Cultural Forecourt to coincide with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – was Alchemy, a little show with a lasting impact, bringing butoh back to Brisbane.

 

Zen Zen Zo’s ALCHEMY brings our imagination and our senses to life, melding startlingly original live music – a living, breathing, beating-heart score – and ancient movement to stir our souls, light our hearts and transform our view of ourselves in the world.

 

 

Alchemy is a stunning sensory contemporary performance showcasing Zen Zen Zo’s unique brand of movement and original live music to create a world in which audiences feel free to lose themselves in wonder, and linger in a soulful, joyful experience long after the lights have gone down.

 

Undergoing some transformation themselves, the company has focused on the training arm of the business for a number of years, and also on developing new projects including taking to New Zealand for the first time, their renowned rigorous actor training residency, Stomping Ground, and reconfiguring their popular internship program for inclusion in the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts)

 

This production boasts a current student of the course and two graduates from the inaugural year in 2017 (and this review is written by another!), further testament to Lynne Bradley’s proven track record of training and mentoring multi-skilled performing artists of the highest calibre in this country and overseas. 

 

USC would do well to start shouting about their Masters courses in Performing Arts and Creative Writing

 

 

Alchemy sees a continuation of the collaborative relationship between Zen Zen Zo and composer/musician, Richard Grantham, and brings on board another couple of gifted Australian composers in Iain Grandage (When Time Stops, With Love and Fury, The Rabbits, The Secret River) and the Sunshine Coast’s Joshua Curtis.

 

While DUSK had a festival audience entranced during its meditative moments, Alchemy lures with more potent force an entirely new crowd to its cross-cultural open-air experience, fusing traditional butoh and contemporary classical music by way of an original composition, and a compelling performance by Curtis.

 

With the addition of Grantham’s viola crying and lilting and lifting its exquisite voice, the bold essence of this work takes us beyond ordinary and into ecstasy before we’re released and dropped gently back into a more contemplative place. Incredibly sensual and cinematic in some of its transitions, the music resulting from this meeting of minds is a truly evocative gift. Even re-reading, it sounds as if I’m overstating the fact…until you’ve heard it. And you’ve not heard anything like it since the pairing of Aaron Hopper and Kacey Patrick-Bare AKA Stringmansassy (Aaron’s stunning solo album is available on iTunes).

 

 

But first, without a sound, other than the murmurs of the audience members as they – the children first, always the children first – look up to take in white painted performers in lush costumes of red and silver layered robes (designed by Bill Haycock) and red full-circle skirts beneath (designed by Kaylee Gannaway, who very kindly made me a black one for opening nights…and for twirling), the performers, elegant and other-worldly, slow-walk to take up positions against the city lights and the ever-changing Brisbane River.

 

While this is a perfectly picturesque backdrop for a 20-minute public performance as part of a larger event, the open-air venue is less than ideal. Performance spaces placed too closely together left techies with little control over the sound bleeding from multiple stages, resulting in competing productions rather than a program of complementary and perfectly timed events to be seen and appreciated as separate entities.

 

With so many years of successful Brisbane Festival outdoor staging inside the same perimeter, you’d think there’d be enough experience on the ground to avoid any rookie errors. But the opening night performance was unable to go ahead due to the sound from the nearby Orbit Stage drowning out Alchemy’s soundtrack and thus, the performers’ cues, and adding insult to injury, show times throughout the weekend were continuously updated in a last-ditch effort to solve the problem. It’s actually amazing that anyone at all found themselves in the right place at the right time to experience Alchemy.

 

If you missed it (or if you saw it and loved it), get onto the company’s Facebook page or send an email and demand its return. There’s nothing quite like a return season by popular demand! While you’re at it, demand that it also comes to Ocean Street and NOOSA alive! (The only footage available for the moment is embedded below, a sneak peek at rehearsal, very brightly lit!).

 

It’s interesting to note that during the process, a question arose around the “pop-up” nature of the work, with the assumption perhaps that a public performance would be (should be?) light and funny. Hmmm… The company’s Artistic Director and director of this production, Lynne Bradley, responded, “We do do comedy, but everything we do is attempting to dig deeper, not flit across the surface of life.”

 

Indeed, the performers resist flitting and move fluidly, like liquid gold, with Gina Limpus contributing warm vocal harmonies to complement Curtis’s early melody before joining other accomplished physical performers, Travis Wesley and Jamie Kendall, in an extended sequence of the fluttering (fluttering being vastly different to flitting), floating, falling, rising and twirling that had us entranced during DUSK, as well as sharper, more angular and deeply grounded gesture. Limpus is captivating and not just because she’s front and centre, holds the audience gaze with ease.

 

WE COME SPINNING OUT OF NOTHINGNESS

SCATTERING STARS

LIKE DUST.

RUMI.

 

Zen Zen Zo’s signature performance style begs us to respond emotionally rather than letting us off the hook with an easy narrative. When asked about this type of very visceral contemporary performance, we’re likely to respond with “It was beautiful!” or “It was amazing!” or “It was so moving…” without being able to explain exactly what it was about. The intention is not to offer just one hero’s story with its happy ending but to inspire and slightly – or deeply – unsettle, urging us to look inwards and to consider our own stories, recognising which of those are limiting or damaging, and which will help us not only to survive in this world of overload, but to thrive and find our way to gold. 

 

 

Images by XS Entertainment

#iPhoneonly

 

Advertisements
01
Sep
17

Dancer Auditions

BECOME PART OF THE EDC ENSEMBLE IN 2018

 

Expressions Dance Company (EDC) is now seeking expressions of interest from male and female dancers wishing to be considered for an audition for a professional position in the company. The company is seeking to fill 1 male and 1 female position from the start of 2018.

 

 

EDC, led by artistic director Natalie Weir, is an award-winning Queensland contemporary dance company with an ensemble of 6-8 dancers. Previous Natalie Weir productions include Behind Closed DoorsWhen Time Stops7 Deadly SinsCarmen Sweet, R&J and where the heart is. Weir’s signature choreographic style requires strong ability in partner work and character interpretation.

Weir says, “We’re like a close-knit family here at EDC, not just the dancers but also the office staff. We have an environment of total support and passion for what we do.

Being an EDC dancer is all about collaboration. Not just because we often work alongside amazing musicians and other arts companies, but because I like to embrace the creativity and artistry in every individual when making new work. Each dancer brings something unique to the ensemble, which is so inspiring as a choreographer. So with every new addition, the company grows and evolves. It’s like a living, organic thing.”

EDC is seeking dancers with a solid understanding of contemporary and classical partner-work and the relevant strength to meet the demands the company’s repertoire. Tertiary training or equivalent vocational training is a pre-requisite. They are looking for dancers with professional industry experience who have strong contemporary and classical technique as well as a range of creative skills including improvisation, task work, ability to explore character, convey emotion and develop/sustain expressive movement qualities.

 

“I am looking for dancers who have generosity of spirit and flexibility in both body and mind.”

Natalie Weir, AD EDC

 

Applicants should have strong communication skills and the ability to work effectively in a team environment. EDC values flexibility in body and mind, ability to apply various movement techniques, openness in collaborating and generosity.

 

Register your expression of interest online by 8 September 2017.

 

Successful applicants will be notified via email by 20 September 2017 and invited to attend the audition in Brisbane on Wednesday 27 September at your own expense.

 

22
Aug
17

an artist’s statement

 

artist’s statement 2017

 

everything is delicately interconnected…

 

 

 

 

 

You might remember that I went back to school this year.

 

In March I started a Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts) at USC, but at The J, Noosa, since there are no performing arts facilities on campus at Sippy Downs. We won’t discuss that today.

 

 

The assessment for this week, to create an Artist’s Book within which we share our Artist’s Statement, would have to be one of our most challenging tasks yet. I just danced nearly naked in Japan, started weekly physical training sessions with Zen Zen Zo, started running again, and chose a monologue that breaks my heart to deliver, but this Artist’s Statement! To actually pause and recognise what it is we do, the way we create our work, and why…

 

My contemporary creative practice continues to evolve. As performer, director and producer, I’m enjoying exploring new forms and content of a different kind, a darker kind, which I’ve stayed away from in the past, or have been advised to stay away from. (Can you imagine being told today not to go near mental health issues, domestic violence and ideation?). I’m less concerned now about what others consider to be too dark or dangerous or disruptive. The shadow aspects of human nature reveal a more interesting version of the truth, which we crave. The ancient stories hold the lessons we don’t see in reality television, social media memes or smash hit musical comedies.

 

 

My practice is undertaken in a commercially viable context, admittedly teetering at times between what might easily be sold and the stories demanding to be told. Inspired by some of our most innovative dance artists and directors, including Frantic Assembly, Nicholas Hytner, Katie Mitchell, Marianne Elliot, Margi Brown Ash and Natalie Weir among other giants, my work is immediate, intimate and highly evocative, inviting the audience to engage on a sensory, and emotional and intellectual level to work out their place in the world in a new and unique way. Drawing from contemporary dance, butoh, original compositions by the likes of Max Richter, Philip Glass and Leah Barclay, and ritualistic storytelling and performance elements after deep research into the Ramayana, Buddhism and the myths and stories of the cantidoras, I bring the performers and audience together to experience the life of the “other”, hidden within. I offer actors and audiences the opportunity to get out of their own way to experience the less-shared moments, to see in themselves what’s possible and deplorable; the pallid skin and quiet nakedness of terminal illness, the dismantling of a relationship, the subversion of sexual preference or pleasure, the long-term impact of self-loathing…

 

The investigation of both content and form occurs collaboratively, organically, on the floor from a place of emptiness, a place in time and space in which anything is possible because we welcome it.

 

The performers already have the answer; their first instinct is closest to the truth. As director, I entrust the performers with the transformational task of telling the story, scaffolding their discoveries within an open intuitive process, and shaping a sensory experience for actors and audiences fusing visual, auditory and physical elements to heighten our awareness of the world. The process is fluid and flexible, and informed by our personal and broader views of our part in the story and our place in the world.

 

Small great things are the result of collaborative creative thinking, boldly dreaming and fearlessly doing.

 

 

The golden eclipse week has offered the ideal context in which to consider my artistic practice and the way I wish to continue to develop my approach to collaboratively creating performing arts pieces that have lasting impact on actors and audiences.

 

If the experience is not sensory, insightful and transformational, why have we made the work? And for whom?

 

I continue to reframe my world, to look with new eyes on the ordinary, to listen to old stories for new meaning and uncover the hidden aspects of human nature, to add a voice to the darkness. I’m humble enough to keep learning and bold enough to take a leap. By making this Artist’s Statement public I’m committing to my evolution and my continued efforts to make the long-term goal worthwhile. My practice should continue to contribute to the transformation of artists and audiences on multiple levels, or what am I doing?

 

 

Informed by my training, my teaching practice, my performance experience and personal experiences of live performance, and by the work and differing philosophies of a vast network of industry professionals and creative friends, as well as being aware of my privilege, my practice focuses on the immediacy and urgency of the storytelling. In a world that is increasingly complex and demanding of our attention, I hope my artistic practice offers actors and audiences a thread.

 

Artist: Kirsty Whitlock

 

Artist: Lynn Skordal

 

XS Entertainment is a catalyst for creative change with a history of daring and disruption, and as performer, director and producer, I’m a conduit, able to be completely emptied – as Akaji Maro describes, a butoh “skin bag” – ready to channel and configure the ensemble’s ideas during the devising process, or come to the table overflowing with ideas and ways into the work using sound, light, visual art, literature, movement, and our connection with the darkness that otherwise remains undiscovered.

 

14
Aug
17

Richard Grantham & ZEN ZEN ZO Present DUSK

RESTRUNG 2017: The Viola Cloning Project & ZEN ZEN ZO

 

Saturday August 19 2017 at 3:45pm & 9pm 

 

Hit pause on your fast-paced hectic life, and take a moment to slow down, breath, and be present at DUSK

 

Restrung 2017 delivers an all-star line-up of more than 50 international, national and local artists to explore the spaces between genres – classical, electronica, folk, jazz, rock, pop, minimalism and more.

 

The three-day program includes The Viola Cloning Project and Zen Zen Zo’s DUSK, and Collusion and Queensland Ballet Academy’s Muscle Memory: Reflex.

 

Third in the series of Restrung festivals, the program offers a joyous explosion of strings-driven music, dance, theatre and art that challenges musical and artistic boundaries: a roller coaster ride through the arcane, the forbidden and the gorgeous.

 

 

 

DUSK is the third collaboration between renowned Australian composer and improviser Richard Grantham (aka The Viola Cloning Project) and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.

 

DUSK is a moving meditation, a danced haiku, an opportunity to inhabit the “space between” (day/night; sound/silence; movement/stillness; life/death)

 

a regenerative space of unfolding potential…

 

Performer, Travis Weiner talks about

DUSK, ZEN ZEN ZO & RICHARD GRANTHAM –

 

There are 2 aspects of the show itself I can tell you about.

 

I’ve performed in all of Lynne’s shows since I started with the company in 2014 and this is probably the simplest but the most physically and mentally demanding choreography I can remember. That’s partly because some of it is just hard work and partly because Richard’s original composition can’t be broken into beats of 8. When we dance to his music, which is also in parts just him jamming, we have no musical beat to keep us in sync with each other. So almost the entire show is us kinaesthetically responding to each other. It’s an exciting challenge.

 

From a creative perspective it’s more complicated to explain what’s unique about this show. We were talking about this yesterday and we all see Richard as this god-like maestro summoning us as otherworldly spirits. I would say he deserves such a role. He is a very talented musician, and I wouldn’t say so lightly. The music he is able to create with literally one instrument and a bunch of pedals at his feet is mind blowing. It’s like he takes the concept of a one man band and turns it into a one man orchestra.

 

Our challenge was to create a movement score that kept Richard in focus for the majority of the piece. After watching Richard create his music I don’t think we would be able to steal too much limelight if we tried. His performance is simply fascinating.

 

Working with Zen Zen Zo is always a challenging experience because of the nature and standard of the work, but also very rewarding. Anyone who has trained with the company knows how exhausting an experience it can be. When it comes to a show the bar is set even higher and understandably so. Sometimes we look at each other and go, “can we actually do this for that long?” And then we do. I would say to anyone it is worth coming to see Richard play, even if he was on stage alone. But also to anyone who missed Zen Zen Zo’s sold-out In the Company of Shadows season last year, here is a second chance to see the performers from that show take to the stage again.

 

 

In the Company of Shadows from info@zenzenzo.com on Vimeo.

 

Bring a wine or a green tea and enjoy an afternoon or evening of mindfulness in the presence of these extraordinary artists.

 

DUSK is an exploration of the liminal, the space between, the threshold which facilitates transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers between the light and dark, life and death, music and silence, weaving a shadowy web through the bitter-sweet original score of Richard Grantham’s live looped performance.

 

 

THU 17–SAT 19 AUGUST 2017

Two-Show Festival Pass (full)$110*

Two-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$100*

Three-Show Festival Pass (full)$150*

Three-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$135*

*An additional fee applies to each booking transaction. Single tickets $3 / Multiple tickets $6.

 

 

Composer: Richard Grantham


Directors/Choreographers: Lynne Bradley & Jamie Kendall


Lighting Design: Simon Woods


Design Consultant: Rachel Konyi


Costumes: Bill Haycock & Kaylee Gannaway


Performers: Richard Grantham with Jamie Kendall, Gina Tay Limpus, Aurora Liddle-Christie & Travis Weiner

 

 

 

18
Jul
17

ONE DAY MORE to support Sunshine Coast and Brisbane artists dance (nearly) naked in Japan

 

In case you have been hiding under a rock, or unaware of our campaign, or ignoring all cries for help across our social media platforms, let me fill you in:

IN JUST 10 DAYS WE ARE DANCING (NEARLY) NAKED IN JAPAN

 

I’M EXCITED AND A LITTLE BIT SCARED

 

 

We are 10 students from the Master of Professional Practice in Performing Arts (MPP), an innovative postgraduate course offered for the first time in 2017 by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), created by Zen Zen Zo’s Dr Lynne Bradley.

We have received an exclusive invitation to join Japan’s highly acclaimed butoh dance company, Dairakudakan, for 10 days in July-August during an intensive summer camp in Hakuba, Japan. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australian artists to train and perform with butoh Master, Akaji Maro and an ensemble of 40 dancers.

We’d LOVE you to help if you can, to cover the cost of our travel and training.

We need your support to train and perform with Japan’s best butoh artists.

 

 

Renowned for their visually exotic, highly physical and confronting work about contemporary issues in an apocalyptic world, Dairakudakan dancers and Master butoh performer and director, Akaji Maro, will work with us over 9 days of intensive performance training before we join company members on stage in a culminating performance, choreographed and directed by Maro.

 

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gives us access to contemporary Japanese training and performing that has evolved from a highly respected ancient art form, rarely seen or taught in Australia.

 

 

Your contribution will go towards the ensemble’s travel and training costs, helping to give 10 talented performing artists access to a unique international training and performance opportunity, and the chance to establish and nurture valuable relationships between Australian and Japanese performing artists so that future collaborative work can be considered.

 

Upon returning from this trip, at our own cost, members of the MPP Dairakudakan ensemble will continue training with Australia’s leading physical theatre company, Zen Zen Zo, and work collaboratively to create opportunities to share our knowledge and experience of butoh, Japan’s exquisite performance art, with Australian artists and audiences.

 

WE HAVE ONE DAY MORE OF OUR AUSTRALIAN CULTURAL FUND CAMPAIGN

 

19
May
16

Backyard Double Bill

 

Backyard Double Bill

Anywhere Festival & Backyard Theatre Collective

Toowong Bowls Club

May 12 – 21 2016

Reviewed by Jackson Kellaway

anywhere2016 Backyard Double Bill printed program

I love going to see shows in Brisbane’s Anywhere Festival. It’s always a real surprise to see how the directors are going to use the space with which they have chosen to work. Anywhere Festival forces audience members to go to places they may never have been before. I remember exploring an antique shop during intermission of a show last year.

First cab off the rank for me at this year’s festival was Backyard Theatre Collective’s Double BillThe Picnic and Saying Goodbye to Ally, at Toowong Bowls Club, where I’d never been before.

The Picnic is a piece written by Tremayne Gordon and directed by Kristen Maloney. Previously performed at The Festival of Australian Student Theatre (FAST) it had a sold out season and for good reasons that became clear to me on the night. This piece is set at a picnic that has been organised by Ash, however; she doesn’t show. The strangers, who are all friends of Ash, are now left to test heir own patience and to see who will crumble or, in this case, who will cake.

As soon as the audience walks into the room the stage is live with two characters, Kat (Tess Middleton) and Maggie (Gemma Elsom) standing in the middle of the space with huge awkward smiles on their faces, an awkward stance and wearing ponchos covered with cream. The two stand there until the audience has been seated and it’s time to start. Throughout the piece we begin to see the actors meet each other and reflect on what all of us have been through when we first meet mutual friends. We see these strangers become friends, enemies, lovers, all in 45 minutes. 

The Picnic is a delightful show. The use of butchers paper and even the movement of chairs is used in place of props, which is clever and effective. The audience interaction is great and I wish I’d had the chance to wear my poncho. The short vignettes give the audience insight into each individual character; a small touch, connecting the audience that little bit more. The piece features clever writing by Tremayne and fantastic artistic direction from Kristen.

Kristen also wrote and directed the second half of this double bill, Saying Goodbye to Ally. This piece is definitely a contrast to the previous, and goes to a darker, more sombre place. It is a modern day take on the Euripides’ story of Alcestis who gave up her own life so her husband could live longer. However, surprisingly this piece shines a light on suicide. Kristen has written cleverly, using humour in such a way so as not to marginalise the audience or leave them depressed. It balances on a knife’s edge throughout. She does a good job of ensuring it is well balanced for the entirety of the show. With minimal props and staging, the artistic approach is well executed. All actors play their characters with heart and passion. The standout is Bowden and her portrayal of ten-year-old Alice. Her energetic personality stops short before the older sibling in you comes out and tells her to go to her room. Tremayne Gordon’s different ‘hood voices’ are clear, accurate and surprising. With playwriting and acting up his sleeve it will be exciting to see where Tremayne’s future will take him.

19
May
16

anywhere festival’s biodrama day11 – grotowski laboratory

 

MARACCAS

(Mobile Active Recreation and Creative Community Art Space)

Preparing for La Andariega: Ancient Memories

from notes taken during #biodramadharma day11: Grotowski Laboratory

 

by Xanthe Coward

Sunday May 16 2016

IMG_6639

 

 

MARACCAS’ 17-day Intensive

 

Read Part 2 here

 

Read Part 1 here

 

Sunday morning is another gorgeous sunny day, typical at this time of year on the Sunshine Coast. Days like this are why we live here. I wonder if we will work outside again but no, the morning promises an intense physical workshop requiring a flat floor and as little clothing as possible. That’s right. The focus today is the body’s physical form and it’s limitless potential for movement, or at least…exploring risk-taking to get as close as possible to understanding what our limits are. 

Alex is a Colombian born and trained actor. His Laboratory process is influenced by Jerzy Grotowski; Alex worked for 4 years with Fernando Muñoz, who trained with Grotowski. In terms of the legacy and the concept of the Laboratory, he makes it a personal journey, it’s about the inner self; the person who is inside is observing ourselves. It’s a journey and it’s an investigation. It’s important to be able to commit: it’s the commitment as an investigator. For example, if we’re going to explore an elbow movement the commitment is to focus on finding the meaning of one movement for two hours. It’s kind of a meditation…exploring and trying to understand (ourselves). 

What is the theatre giving us? What is important? It’s helping us with the drama of existence. It’s not about the play, the performance, the costumes, the makeup; it’s helping us to connect with an essence of who we are, why we are. And how the movement is connected to ritual…

– Alex

IMG_6646

In the Sacred Circle today, Linda is acknowledged. What have we learned form Linda? Denise offers, “Curiosity and the energy you bring.” Lilly continues, “Your wonderful sense of eternal youth – your beautiful innocence and purity and joy – a real willingness to give everything a go even though you’ve never done this before… Your sense of questioning, integral to this process and the ultimate outcome of the show, because of that questioning; bringing the inner child (asking why?).”

“Your sense of play and jokes,” adds Dan. Olga tells Linda, “There is room for laughter” and “Those who seek, find.” Mary thanks Linda for the laughter, which brings a new perspective to things (the totems). “The laughter and acknowledgment… You are a light in the black, beauty in the darkness…serenity in dealing with very heavy emotions.” Jonas has had to find the right English words to express this. There is laughter…it’s kind, connected laughter.

Linda thinks and tells the group that what she has learned from herself is that it’s okay to step into the unknown. “Trust and take that step. I just have to breathe. The most valuable thing I’ve learnt about myself is about the self awareness and knowing who that being is, which relates to breath. My aspiration is to be aware of every breath. To know myself with every breath. The most amazing thing I’ve learned about myself is that that is possible.”

Lilly invites everyone to speak their Sacred Name and hands over to Alex. He jumps to his feet and says, “Let’s try to wear as less clothing as possible.”

This is going to be hardcore, exploring the plasticity of the body and the centre, the core. I’m glad I’m watching and not doing again. I’m a little bit scared for everyone…

This is how the Grotowski Laboratory goes. I’m going to give you a heap of what Alex actually says. Don’t imagine there are too many pauses between instructions and actions and the following instruction…there is barely time for the actors to pause, to take a breath. This is the most intense acting training I’ve seen to date.

let’s embrace this space and start walking. be aware of the space. we can start having some eye contact as well. let’s be aware how our spine is, our shoulders. we’re going to go in a bit more of a rhythm. let’s try to be aware of our weight, how we place the feet on the ground, faster…and faster…and faster. try to get into all the empty spaces.

we’re going to create a little bit of risk. add more speed and play with levels. vocalise if you feel (“let the voice coming out”)

add more speed, more risk. try not to touch anybody, be very aware of the space. how close can you get without touching the person? how much risk can you create?

Alex claps and everyone freezes.

start to lift one of your feet, very slowly, then transport the weight to the other side.

run again. try to eliminate the sound on the ground. don’t forget to breathe.

freeze. repeat the weight transfer, slowly, slowly.

he claps. keep running. too much sound on the ground.

form a circle. knees bent and core strong. create a rhythm, a simple beat, which we can keep for a while. lighter on the feet. arms reaching, stretching above head, one hand holding the other, change arms. increase the speed. stretch the arms across the chest one by one to stretch out the shoulders.

Mary and Lilly keep their torsos so still – they have in common their Zen Zen Zo training. And Denise, the dancer, so controlled, elegant, her upper body still.

Alex is strong and grounded and relaxed at the same time. He is picking up his feet, not shuffling, lifting them, keeping the upper body relaxed and strong. Such simple, focused movement, full of control and power.

keep the rhythm and moving in the circle, bending forward into tabletop with hands clasped behind backs, stepping more and more slowly, then rising upright and increasing the speed. faster, faster, change direction.

find a wall, step away from the wall facing away from it. lean back to let your head rest against wall, and curl the spine down against wall, vertebrae by vertebrae to a seated position – a strong core – and roll up again.

Alex claps. Everyone goes back to running in the space, creating risk and aware of where everybody is in the space.

Alex claps. return to the wall. lean your head back and roll your head back against it, roll down to seated position and roll up again to push away from wall, dropping into plank position on the floor and rolling up from the floor through downward dog.

Alex claps. back to the risk!

Alex claps. back to the wall!

next time, drop to the floor in plank position and lift right leg, shift back and forward to change legs through three-legged dog, shift back and forward, to smell the floor rolling back up through downward dog to the wall.

Alex claps. back to the risk!

His little baby, Gabby is here. She is 17 months old and too beautiful for words; an old soul with the calm, quiet, bright-eyed spirit of a cheeky old lady who’s seen it all before. She stays aside, out of the way with Billie. She is sitting on a chair, watching, at times rubbing sleepy eyes, just like Poppy has done since she was the same age, always interested, always watching, absorbing, always there, inadvertently learning so much more than most adults know, about humanity, making connections, communication… At times she needs acknowledgement from Alex, or from Lilly, and she accepts a smile or a kiss on the top of her head before returning to the edge of the space.

Alex claps. back to the wall! you know what to do.

back to the risk! keep your eyes wide open. eye contact. more risk. get to your limit. very, very fast, as fast as you can.

back to the wall! let your voice go out if you need it to.

back to the risk! (There are exultant, exhaustion defying voices now, whooping and shouting). less sound on the ground, more voice exploration now. faster, faster, lots of controlled risk.

STOP

Everyone is either pale, almost sickly white, or flushed pink with effort and exhaustion. But there is only a moment to take a breath and a sip of water, if you can be sure you won’t throw up yet (another’s voice in my head tells me, “Throw up after!” and I say it aloud to Mary, who laughs, exhausted and exhilarated). Alex demonstrates Diagonals and Jonas follows his lead. Jonas is just as strong and lithe and quick (and sweaty!). Amazing. And this is just an introduction, without further investigation or application…

IMG_6671

They move from one corner of the room to the other, stepping on hands and feet facing the ceiling, lifting one hand in front of their faces for each step and breathing, “hah!”. The core stays up, it’s like reverse table top before going into a backbend. They repeat this, raising the opposite hand and leg for each step. The core is strong and stays lifted.

Olga does a variation. Is it supposed to be the gentler version? She is squat-stepping with hands clasped in front of chest. This movement too is ridiculously demanding.

Now they are jumping forward with hands stirring in front of the pelvis, the pelvis rotating, feet staying hip width apart. The core stays strong. Then stepping left to right, archers arms to match. Then open arms, wide legs, and round-kicks stepping widely forward. “keep the rhythm!” Alex says, not a bit out of breath.

Next, they are “climbing” across the floor (scrambling but not, because the movement is slower than that, and so controlled, and so, “climbing”), keeping the torso off the floor whilst keeping as close to the ground as possible, moving forward on forearms and feet only, commando style. There are groans now, the effort too much. Still, only Linda and Billie, and much later, Mary, take any time out.

Alex asks, “How comfortable is everyone with rolls?”

The yoga mats come out. Everyone is shiny with sweat. Nice. Alex checks that necks are supported as individuals roll. Jonas continues to do everything Alex does in the same relaxed, controlled manner. Little Gabby checks in with Alex; she gets a kiss and in one swoop she is lifted off the yoga mat and up onto a seat, with a drink of water and a snack.

Now they are rolling and coming out of each roll, reaching arms out, and reaching one arm back between the legs before rolling forward. Slowly, slowly. And now rolling backwards. Jonas glances behind him before each roll. He almost flips and he is ready to leap into the rolls to get some height and distance and momentum. There is no formal check in or checking to see if everyone is okay, but still, no one is throwing up yet, so they continue.

Next is a shoulder stand going into each roll – keep a strong core – balance – control (control the coming out of it and finish with a roll). There is laughter. And the breath. And intense focus. Everyone is testing their limits.

Now there is a check in. “How is everybody feeling?” More laughter. “Tired!” “Awesome!”

let’s raise the energy a little bit again. let’s create some risk. when I say “uno” bring the knees to the chest (jump!), and “dos” we do the front (forward) roll and “tres” we do the backwards roll.

As Olga hears this she laughs, “My god!” and runs again, smiling and laughing and trying to catch her breath. She might be going crazy.

faster, faster, now maximum speed!

STOP

IMG_6650

find a partner. face your partner, feet wide and knees bent. the partner will touch you with their foot – it’s not a kick – and you receive it. apply pressure with your foot and the partner will move back in response to the pressure. “if you are the person receiving the touch you have to be strong but mobile.” try to go higher. “I think we think it hurts but it doesn’t hurt” – Lilly

be flexible and strong to hold it, and then go backwards with the touch.

deliver a little bit more pressure and you take the hit and use the pressure to take you into a backward roll. controlled. you basically sit and roll backwards to get out of it.

Next, the partner jumps up, pushing up with his/her hands, onto the receiver’s shoulders, and as the receiver responds to the pressure, they simply drop down to lie on the floor. It’s not a push, and you land over the receiver, feet either side of his/her chest. The next level is to then end this move with a forward roll over the receiver, who follows with a backwards roll to get out of the position.

IMG_6726

The body has to adapt to the floor. “It could take a year of bruises.” A Russian teacher once told Mary, “It’s just a body. What’s wrong with you? You’re so precious!” Alex says, “Once you develop that relationship with the floor you can do so much.”

Then, “Let’s put everything together to create one sole choreography:

start still, make eye contact, both find centre, both eagle kick and then jump and drop and roll out of it.” Denise says, “Maybe you think it’s not possible to slow it down but to me it’s possible.” Denise and Alex work on the slower, more controlled version of the movement. They are completely in tune with one another and they pull off the movement several times.

IMG_6804

IMG_6829

IMG_6833

The session wraps with a small circle, tight; the close connection between these guys about to become even more apparent. Lilly starts in the middle and Alex introduces a familiar trust game. “Build a little bit of trust, allowing yourself to fall and your friends will catch you. Take her all the way to the ground. Friends, take a limb and massage her. Lilly, just enjoy it”. The group works together to roll Lilly ever so gently onto her belly to continue the massage. Gently, gently… “Put her back to standing position without allowing her to do any of it. Lift her all the way up (slowly, raise her up), with straight arms, and walk around the space with her. Place her back to standing and give her a big hug.”

It’s someone else’s turn. I take my leave and head to another rehearsal.

The weekend, indeed the entire creative process leading up to the show, is about learning to communicate story and emotion; discovering ourselves (our fears, our perceived limitations and our potential), and discovering what our bodies and minds are capable of; building trust, and building connections through the intimacy of touch and the acknowledgement of each individual existing in the same space, to tell the same story. This ensemble is learning the value of bringing focus and energy and skill to the space, embracing vulnerability, and drawing on ancestral knowledge and the energies of the elements and the earth to feed back to the world something we don’t stop often enough to consider…

This ensemble is unravelling our human experiences and opening up, preparing to connect with us, to share with us, La Andariega: Ancient Memories.




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow on Bloglovin

Follow us on Twitter

Advertisements