Friday, 30 May 2008

Live and animal

An article in today's Guardian about improvised theatre caught my attention, linking the liveness of exciting theatre/performance and the animal.

"In Improbable," he {Lee Simpson, co-artistic director} says, "we recently had the thought that really good theatre is like a shy deer you coax onto the stage. But if you ask it the wrong question or even just get an odd feeling, it bolts.

"Now, one way of solving that is just to say, 'Fuck it. If we shoot it and stuff it, it'll be on stage every night.' It'll be stuffed and dead. But it'll look like a deer. So that's the choice. Would you rather have a stuffed deer every single night? Or would you rather try coaxing the living, breathing deer on stage, in the full knowledge that there will be nights when it just runs away and won't come back?".,,2282516,00.html

Saturday, 17 May 2008

A fundraising campaign: 500 people, €100 each

I launched a fundraising campaign recently to raise money to make a new dance piece for the theatre. To make it I'll use the material I've been developing through this residency. This doesn't mean I'm abandoning the investigation in public spaces; but I am ready to translate the knowledge gained from my research to the conventions of the theatre. There's a public in there too that I don't want to neglect. This research was never about undermining the presentation of dance in theatre but about extending its reach by taking the skills and specificity of dance in to environments where they could challenge and be challenged by unfamiliarity.

Or maybe I'm losing my nerve, anxious to maintain my reputation as a choreographer by presenting work in familiar packaging, eventhough the content is the same which ever box I come in.

In any case it's not an easy translation. The conventions of theatrical experimentation start asserting themselves as soon as I think about making a piece for the stage. What stage? When will it be free? Who will fund the work? Who will light it? What music? etc.

The exhilaration I've felt making this work outdoors in public spaces, (though let's not forget its dependency on the Dublin City Council residency and Arts Council support) derives from its relative spontanaeity and independence. If I make work in a theatre, then how do I retain the integrity of the work, or how, at least, do I find a way to make the architecture of the theatrical presentation a suitable home for this new work?

This fundraising campaign is different way of dealing with the architecture. Here's a letter I've sent out asking for help:

You can help me make a new dance piece.
I am looking for 500 people to donate €100 each.
In return I’ll be inviting you to see the show, celebrating what’s possible with the help of others and, if you want, I’ll be keeping you up to date with how the work in progressing. Of course, I’ll be thanking you a lot too.

This isn’t the usual way that dance performances get made in Ireland.
It’s something different.
It grows out of a failure. I missed an Arts Council application deadline. However, even though I was upset, ashamed and disappointed, I knew that I wanted to make this new piece because it needed to me made and not because I wanted to get some Arts Council funding. So I had to find another way to raise the necessary funds.

I’m asking your help because I think this new piece is important and could be beautiful.

It’s going to be called Niche and it’s about finding a place for ourselves, a niche, in an environment that’s changing all the time. It’s about living in cities with cranes on the skyline, about communities that aren’t like we remember. It’s about excitement and loss and it’s something I think we can all connect to.

It will premiere in Project Arts Centre on 22nd October.

I have four wonderful dancers from around the world whose movement moves me and I want to be able to share their skills with you in this new piece,

If you can contribute €100 to this piece, please send a cheque, making it payable to Project Arts Centre/ Niche, to

Project Arts Centre,
39 East Essex Street,
Temple Bar,
Dublin 2,

If you pass by Project and prefer to drop in, they’ll be able to help you there too.

When you make a contribution, make sure you leave your contact details. Project will issue you with a receipt and also a number so that you know how the appeal is going. And I’ll be in contact.

If you can’t make a contribution, you could pass this information to someone you think might; and please come to see the show.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Match at BAMOIC

Matthew and I perform in the Beijing Art Museum of the Imperial City.

Performing Match somewhere like BAMOIC is a complex series of compromises. I'm clear that I don't need a stage to show the work but I do need space for the long lines of the piece's energy to be visible. So I can't perform in the small courtyard with its mix of cobbled stones, stone seats and trees. Part of me feels bad for not being adaptable enough but I suppose it's clear to me that this work has to be about the negotiation between what I've prepared and what I find. The work can't be completely determined by the environment. There needs to be an integrity in the work that offers the possibility of redefining the environment in which it unfolds. The work claims the space it needs, where it needs it: though it can only claim what it needs from what is available.