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INTERVIEW: FOUR CHOREOGRAPHERS CHAT TO RR AHEAD OF THE PLACE, RESOULTION!2012

Resolution! is The Place’s annual new year open season for shorter dance works. Over 70 works are presented in nightly changing triple bills. In the second of a 2-part interview choreographers SOPHIE DUNCAN, ZOSIA JO DOWMUNT, NADINE DORAN-HOLDER & WILL AITCHISON chat to BETH WOOD ahead of their performances at the platform this February.

BETH WOOD: WHAT WERE YOUR REASONS FOR APPLYING TO THE PLACE'S RESOLUTION!2012 PLATFORM AND HOW ARE YOU PLANNING TO USE THIS TO FURTHER YOUR NEXT STEPS AS A CHOREOGRAPHER?

SOPHIE DUNCAN: The main reason is because I really wanted to start collaborating with my designer, Tom, and we were looking for the right opportunity, and the right platform....I graduated from London Contemporary Dance School, The Place in July 2011, so I was well aware that Resolution! was going to happen. I suppose I needed something like this to get me going, to put some pressure...so we applied. I wanted to create a company and I've learned a lot from the process. I am now ready to start on something new, probably an evolution of this piece. I feel that I have the basis of a short piece, I can go on and remould it.

ZOSIA JO DOWMUNT: I wanted to show in London a piece originally made for an education project I run in Wales. The feedback you get from a London audience, especially at the Place, is a lot more useful and constructive; I am trying to develop as a choreographer, so Resolution! seemed the perfect opportunity!

NADINE DORAN-HOLDER & WILL AITCHISON: I took part in Resolution! last year and I applied again this year because it is a wonderfully eclectic platform for choreographers. I really enjoyed the experience last year and I am sure it will be just as enjoyable this year. In so far as furthering my steps as a choreographer, it is great as it gives space for me to receive feedback on my work, not just the choreography, as I could in a studio showing, but the entire aesthetic package I’m attempting to provide for an audience.

 

BW: COULD YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR COMPANIES AND HOW THEY FORMED?

SD: So   White | Label was formed by myself - a dancer/choeographer and actor and designer Tom Blakey. We met during the LCDS and Wimbledon College of Art Collaborations module of work in March of 2011. We weren't working together at that point, but we got to know each other and we both were impressed with our respective approach...so we started to collaborate on new ideas. We applied and were shortlisted for the Old Vic, New Voices Coming Up Proposals but didn't get a chance to make that. Resolution came up shortly after.  What I've wanted to create was not so much just a dance company, but more of a collective, with different artists exchanging their respective skills, so to develop multi-media productions. My vision for the future is for the collective to become a proper creative hub!   It's small now, with me, Tom and musician/singer/writer, Adam McCulloch, but in time White | Label will hopefully produce a range of productions from theatre and film to pop-up events and educational activies. I really have a wide outlook for it and I like to join together ideas from different people.

 ZJD: I formed Joon Dance in 2008 to try to introduce contemporary dance to the rural county of Pembrokeshire, West Wales, where it was, then, very sparse. We have been running holiday intensives and workshops ever since and have performed at The Torch theatre, Milford Haven three times. Joon have just become officially registered with Company's House and I am hoping to grow and be able to continue my work, both in Pembrokeshire and possibly other rural communities in the future.

NDH & WA: Indeed Dance Company is all about emotional fallout. What interests us is being able to create auto/biographically and present visceral, engaging performances. Emotion is key to us, its universal, and creating a world on stage in which the audience can become immersed is very important to us. I met Will Aitchison in a fluorescent hallway in Laban, he was teaching there, I'd seen him teach a class and loved that he made a pas de chat look exciting so I asked him to dance for me. He agreed and was part of a piece I made and we didn’t really get on, he questioned everything I did and it annoyed me! He helped me create some work for my next piece and managed to produce a level of emotional performance from the dancers that I loved. From there our working relationship grew and we decided to start a company together.

 

BW: COULD YOU EXPLAIN THE MAIN CONCEPT OF YOUR PIECE?    

SD: UNSOUND is inspired by Hunter S. Thompson's cult film 'Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas' and it's a physical theatre piece for a solo performer (me). The main focus of the piece is inspired by the figure of Gonzo, his take on journalism, and his experiences in Vegas as a reporter in the early 70's. He had an amazing way of conveying the gritty hyperactivity that permeated Las Vegas at the time, but managed at the same to talk about more profound meanings. UNSOUND features a journalist, Ruby Duke, who is trying to finish her report, but things are missing and she's looking for solution. This is the story of her hunt to find the heart of the American Dream, and, like a dream, she never quite remembers how or why she is where she is. 

ZJD: This piece was made for young people; it draws a little on break dance and certainly on popular music, as its focus is on accessibility. Having said that, there is also a definite political tone. I created it after reading about the closure of children's homes. I was thinking a lot about how we, as a society, are failing our young people. Youth crime, neglect, abuse and youth culture are all running themes in the piece.

NDH & WA: That’s probably the hardest question for me to answer! I suppose the main concept, for me at any rate, is human experience. I am not trying to tell a story, although there is a story behind it for me and the dancers, it is about presenting a snapshot of a moment in three women’s lives. We are presenting an unfolding of human emotion with no objective correlative but plenty of little clues for the audience to make their own story from. I suppose that is probably a frustrating way to describe a piece of dance! I suppose for us it’s about being disappointed, something I think we can all relate to.

 

BW: IS THERE ANYONE ELSE SHOWING THEIR WORK AT RESOLUTION! THAT YOU WOULD RECOMMEND US TO GO AND SEE?

SD: Well, I’m the last of my group of friends who I'd recommend! I really like Re-pete Dance and Music and Eithne Kane and Dominic Mitchell Bennet. Seke Chimutenwenge is also performing on the last night; I was lucky to have worked with him on a workshop at LCDS, and I thought he was an amazing improviser, full with unusual and witty stuff... so yeah, definitely don’t miss Seke’s piece!

ZJD: Definitely Seke Chimutengwende will be interesting, on the last night. So much great stuff has been already! I have seen Dirty Feet Dance Company, who were impressive, as well as Kip Johnson and Jessie Brett...all great performers.

NDH & WA: I would love to recommend that you go and see Joss Arnott  Dance but their Resolution! Performance happened a few weeks ago. Other than that I will be spending my valentines evening watching RedTape Dance Company perform in Resolution! and I am very interested in seeing Daniel Somerville’s work.


BW: WHO ELSE IS ON YOUR RADAR RIGHT NOW IN THE DANCE WORLD AND HAS ANYONE IN PARTICULAR INSPIRED THIS PIECE?

SD: As a physical theatre performer, I often look to drama and film as my inspiration and I like pieces that really pin down a story - either literally or on a more abstract way. I like the idea of having a filmic quality about my work. I know it might sound mad but Christopher Nolan is inspiring me at the moment, I am intrigued by the many levels of his films.  Dance-wise, my current favourite company is Lost Dog. I really like their subtlety, and the fact that they use uncomplicated and accessible strategies to portray huge ideas. I am also keeping in touch with my colleagues from LCDS, and I believe it’s very important to be part of a network right now...Dance is changing ...and for the better!
ZJD: Ooh good question... I recently saw Tom Dale's piece on 2faced Dance Company and loved that; I’d probably say that the style of my piece is not miles away from Tom’s one. My own style is definitely not set yet though, I am enjoying trying different things out at the moment. I think Charlotte Spencer is one to watch, she's got some amazing ideas and could be the next Shioban Davies.
Joon Dance

NDH & WA: I am particularly in awe of Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company, the worlds they create on stage are staggering. I have yet to see anything else like the things they produce on stage and I love it! I look forward to Dance Umbrella every year as it offers a slice of International Dance that can be truly inspiring and as such there are a few people on my radar that I would love to see more of. I saw Cédric Andrieux by Jérôme Bel which I thought I would hate but I would love to see more of his work. I am also interested to see more from Ben Duke, there is something so intriguing about the work that he makes and I am really curious to find out more about Martin Forsberg, I have seen small bits and pieces from him and what I have seen has left me itching to see more!  Dancewise I have two main inspirations, they have inspired me for years and I would like to think this piece is a step closer to visualising the type of work they inspire. Firstly, Charlotte Vincent, Broken Chords is hands down the most involving, captivating and heart wrenching piece I have ever seen. There is something so wonderful about being able to share your intimate emotions with an audience without smothering them in them or resorting to melodrama. Charlotte is brilliant at this

and it is something I would very much love to achieve, particularly with this piece. Secondly, Daniel Larrieu, his choreography can seem deceptively simple but his ability to play with the semiotics of the simplest movements is astounding, truly beautiful to witness and grossly undervalued.

 

Zosia Jo Dowmunt, Joon Dance Company, performing on Feb 15
photo credit: Barney Coates
www.joondance.co.uk

Nadine Doran-Holder & Will Aitchison, Indeed Dance Company, Wallflowers, performing on Sat 11 February
photo credit: Juno Carabott

Sophie Duncan, White Label, UNSOUND, performing on Thu 9 Feb
photo credit: Tom Medwell.
www.wix.com/sophieduncanuk/web

 

BOOK NOW FOR RESOLUTION!2012 www.theplace.org.uk