Live work coming alive

Last month we performed a very unusual, and special, bill at the Bonnie Bird Theatre. To complement the premiere of our newest commission: 12 by Claire Cunnigham, we re-staged In Translation by Emanuel Gat, from our 2009/10 season. The programme worked well together, going from a movement based, bare stage sextet, to a twelve-strong cast, full of spectacular costumes, laughter, songs and surprising moments.

Previous blogs have narrated some of the shenanigans involved in the making of 12 and I can’t wait to see it again at the Southbank Centre, London, on the 6th of September. But today I want to write about In translation, as I found fascinating to see this gentle and complex work again.

The piece’s main features are fairly simple: space, timing and bodies moving. There are no fictive characters, no storyline, no special effects or fancy costumes, no remarkable shapes or movement stunts, no style associated to any traditional training. It’s just a group of people moving in space, often to silence. Still, as I followed the action I found myself drawn to it more and more.

…to be held spellbound without fancy design and music etc is a clever thing.
Bruce Marriot,

I confess, I was spellbound.

Simple movement ideas got introduced and then revisited under different guises. Like the subtle canon, resembling the fugue motif in the Bach score. Or the way dancers picked up a similar level of energy from another dancer, when performing their own sequences, creating the feeling that it was the same sequence manifested differently. The notion of sharing a common centre of gravity for instance, is a recurrent theme in the piece that gets performed with various degree of distance, also close to the floor, and while travelling through space. Simple but complex and this sense of development was a pleasure to watch.

But the most enjoyable thing was to see how the dancers have matured since they last performed it over a year ago. To see how deep their understanding of the work has become, even if they hadn’t performed it in a while, even if we only had a few rehearsals to put the piece back together. And perhaps a further pleasure was to witness a live work coming alive again. Because the work exists, there’s no question of that. We can talk about the piece, see photos of it, read reviews and remember it. But the piece only comes to live when the dances perform it on stage, with the lights, costumes and sound, in front of an audience. It’s the ephemeral aspect of dance, which I love, as it reminds me of the transience of things. That’s why it was so special, it was like seeing something beautiful that has gone away, coming back for a bit.

So to share and celebrate my slight nostalgia, I’m posting some photos of In translation taken by Jim Markland at the Rose Theatre in Tewksbury, in 2009. Plus a short and roughly shot video from a rehearsal for the Bonnie Bird show. Who knows? Maybe we will just have to perform it a few more times…

(Unfortunately the video is not available at the moment –Admin)

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