Notes, Steps, Timelines, Collaborations

‘Notes, Steps, Timelines, Collaborations’, organised by Tom Hutchinson and the Royal Philharmonic Society, was a fantastic 3 day course for emerging choreographers and composers to meet, learn and share ideas.

Throughout the course we had various sessions with Will Aitchison, from Laban, who made sure that by the end of our first hour session we knew everybody’s name as well as some random facts about them. His sessions got us up from our seats and made us get creative with various tasks. It made us all get to know each other very quickly. One particular task was picking up each other’s pedestrian movements and creating short phrases. We then developed them after learning and discussing different dynamics in movement. It was great to see what every group had come up with but also a great opportunity to discuss what rhythm, dynamics and space means to both composers and choreographers. This inspired quite a few debates, especially between the composers regarding what rhythm was. It made me realise that we might use all these words to describe something but we have to go a lot further into detail and give examples to each other of our interpretation and meaning. This way you can be on the same page as each other and not fall into the trap of agreeing but really being at opposite ends and realising too late.

On creating a third language to communicate with each other it was fascinating to watch Jonathon Burrows and Matteo Fargion perform ‘Both sitting duet’. They have found a completely unique way of working together and we had some interesting discussions of how both composer and choreographer can work more closely with each other. The last session on our first day was with Wayne McGregor who really inspired us to push on with our careers and to always find ways of connecting with new people.

Throughout many of the sessions all the choreographers including Mark Baldwin, Richard Alston and Jonathon Burrows explained that when collaborating with a composer you have to let go and be free enough to see where the project can go. However Wayne did feel that if the project is initiated by the choreographer, for example, they would get to make that ultimate final decision. It was something which seemed up for debate during our discussion with Kevin O’Hare, Kenneth Tharp, Sally Groves and Christopher Barron. Is it 50/50 or 50/60 with one person having the final say/vision?

Again I soon realised that every collaboration is different and unique and it’s about finding your relationship with that person and discovering your way together.

On the last day a group of dancers from Rambert gave us a demonstration of different works they perform and how they rehearse them. They performed excerpts of works by Merce Cunningham, Richard Alston, Mark Baldwin and Lucinda Child.  A huge range of works with some very different methods of collaborating.

Throughout the 3 days we heard about so many different methods and ideas that it also made me realise where I am amongst it all. How do I choreograph, what do I find important and what would I seek in a collaboration.

I came away knowing 17 new choreographers and composers, who knows what might happen next between us all!

Stina Quagebeur