I got to sit in and watch another company workshop yesterday. Scottish Dance Theatre is in the city and performing tonight, ‘Forces of Nature’ a triple bill of ‘Winter Again’, ‘Revelator’ and ‘In This Storm’. Each piece by a different choreographer, the first by Norwegian Jo Strømgren , the second a former SDT dancer Ruth Janssen and the third by a Nigerian-Welsh choreographer Henri Oguike. It seems quite an interesting and eclectic mix of cultural influences. The company seems to embody a sense of openness that is not so common in a current age of dance companies and choreographers who want a definitive style that identifies their works, and recognition derives accordingly.
I was pleasantly surprised by the easy pace of the class yesterday. I had done most of those improvisation exercises before. It brought back memories of dancing as a teenager in Calcutta School of Music. I’d wondered then, why does my body need to learn how to melt like ice-cream. But it was curiously fun to try different ways of doing this. I enjoyed yesterday though for their underlying principle of less is more, and the attention to detail in applying small elements that layered the improvisational games.
They shared a short duet sequence from ‘Winter Again’, and while the dancers were trying to grab the movement to the best of their ability; I was really interested to know how the choreography had developed. The dancers used gestures to create a kind of sign language to communicate with and one movement triggered another. This logic allowed for a very curious and colourful phrase, dramatic and engaging. And of course there was a humour behind it all, in line with the neo-classical style/narrative thread of the work.
The last exercise, was a structured improvisation with ‘Flocking’. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply a group moving with a changing leader depending on where the group faces and who is right in front. This reminded me of a performance I was in, ‘Moving Community, by choreographer Sheenru Yong. (We performed in Taipei, in the Dance Hall of TNUA, in my second semester of studying there.) That was such a powerful experience, and I remember flocking in different groups, it was one of the final cues before the piece ended. I enjoyed being on stage and sharing life with a group of strangers that became friends moving and dancing together.
Clever Bodies. I liked this most of all. Indians, or dance students here have a habit of talking alot while dancing. Instructions are explained and re-explained. But Audrey, an SDT dancer said very rightly, you don’t need to talk, we have clever bodies, can can communicate with your body, you don’t need to talk. No voice, just move.
There is beauty in the simple things.