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ArtsLab11 Work-in-Progress: To Ponder

Photo by Pollyanna Kaisa Nowicki

I’ve finally managed to find (yes, find) two days, in fact, the last two days in my July Holiday Break (I work during School Term) to reflect on my first work-in-progress piece for ArtsLab11.

Movement (Flesh ÷ Body x Surface x Texture) + Light + Sound = Untitled Rred

Sunday 3 July – Of that day, I can vividly recall the vast spectrum of emotions I was experiencing. Some were high and others were unnaturally low, but most of all, I was feeling both apprehensive and vulnerable about the work I was about to present (and funnily enough, not about the act of performing itself. I was confident about that). It was not because I was worried about the subject matter or that I hadn’t spent enough time working on it, but more because it was the first time I was presenting all of my ideas and thoughts on the floor and in front of an audience. Believe it or not, it is a very different set of emotions in comparison to when I perform my own dance pieces; or watch one of my gymnast’s perform a routine I choreographed for her; or even when I handed in my Honours Thesis! Even now as I write, I can still feel the ‘Rachel of three-weeks-ago’ hanging tightly onto these threads of emotion.

Photo by Pollyanna Kaisa Nowicki

Untitled Rred is and was the first self-devised solo work (I am not including solo dances) I have ever created, and the first time I have been asked to work towards and within a work-in-progress framework. This in itself was a challenging process – mostly because I had to learn how to navigate myself around its format and parametres – however, this is not what I would like to meditate upon.

While exploring (and playing, I can’t forget the all important playing) during our 8-week rehearsal process, what I began to realise is that my creating (or rather, my choreographing) experiences to this date have allowed me to display and showcase my ability to make movement in many varied dance styles. And yet, have kept me situated within a particular classical technique of dance, whether that be Classical Ballet, National Character, Contemporary, Rhythmic Gymnastics or a fusion of all. This in itself has always given me a dance vocabulary and language that  I can depend on, and when it doesn’t provide me with what I need, I often use sound effects or metaphors to get my message across. Let’s call this, my ‘trained eye’.

This ‘trained eye’ is inherent and innate in and to me. It is and always will be a part of me – an ability to move and dance within the confines of a technique – and in the many ‘Rachel’s’ inside of me. And so, when this ‘trained eye’ was brought up in conversation during the audience feedback session after the work-in-progress performances, I was both excited and interested to hear how my ‘trained body’ was received.

“Combination of controlled and uncontrolled dance” … “The movement was flawless and controlled”
“Beautiful Classical Dance Piece” … “Read like a Contemporary Dance Piece” …

Reflection – On the one hand, I could and can understand how my movements were received as ‘flawless’ and ‘controlled’ in technique (I created parts of the work to include this), but on the other, this also seemed to be an area I was most pulled-up on: My inability to distinguish between dance technique, or perhaps, the affect of dance training on my movements.

This is an area of my practice I have been trying to come to terms with in the past few years, but to hear it out loud was both frightening and somewhat relieving. It meant, at that particular moment, that I knew that my instinct and intuition were correct in the direction they were taking me in trying to break down and unpack my training and in turn, was hitting a nerve very close to home. I am still trying to get my head (and heart) around this realisation, and so, I found it very difficult to listen to directly after the work-in-progress performance. This leads me to question:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of classical training and technique?

I guess I have a lot of things to ponder and still digest, but this is the one I wanted to share here. It is by far the most exposed I have felt in quite a while.

One Response

  1. […] development of new creative ideas. I also began to face my ‘trained eye’ (refer to BLOG: ArtsLab11 Work-in-Progress: To Ponder) and to openly take into consideration the impact of my classical training as a dancer, as well as […]