Some days.

It’s taken me many days to open this blog again. During the residency in Caen I didn’t have internet access at the accommodation (a beautiful old apartment in the city centre, walking distance from the CCN) so nightly reflective writing didn’t happen. I missed the discipline of daily efforts however rambling I turned out to be, however lacking in observation beyond the descriptive I so often was, I still found the daily task in Le Havre forced me to find words and apply my mind to writing.

Once home I’ve let slide so many opportunities to update and chart little seeds of thought as well as the big stuff; ageing, how we place value on ourselves/give our lives meaning, being an artist and what that means, supporting another person, fears about returning to Manchester to work with Michael, taking him away from his father, creativity, and all sorts of detail that I’m not even listing because I can’t remember it once the moment passes. As many of us know it’s hard to pick something up again when it feels like a gulf is beginning to grow. Too much unsaid. I look forward to reconnecting.

My time in Caen was fruitful. Singer grew. I learnt how careful I have to be about inviting feedback. Being able to filter and make productive use of comments I received was not so easy, not so straightforward. I want to dialogue and willingly feel I make space to hear a response or consider a question. Yet, although very necessary in many ways I’ve been reminded how fragile a process can be and how important it is to keep working since it’s so much about finding in the doing.  The slightest cause to doubt what I’m doing can have quite a big impact really, undoing some of the forward motion into a roundabout one that tries to justify what I can’t quite manage to yet because it’s not known enough. It’s a bigger skill than I thought. Largely with the help of David, the Dramaturg I deepened what I’d created in Le Havre. It proved difficult to split the work open and flesh out the structure other than deepening the roots of the existing shape. For David knowing the work it was easier, Sacha and Isabelle were very supportive but it must have been harder for them engaging with the work in mid-process. I have to be clearer about how to work with people within a process when I am so vulnerable on the inside, for Jules too, at a distance trying to work was challenging turning him into a technician really rather than a composer. We worked on the danced passages 1 and 2 making a clearer use of space, found a faint singing helped feed the the SR journey upstage connected to breath.  Oliver Warusfel from Ircam came for the day and made some lovely observations drawing a map of the space covered during a run, revealing it to be one third setting the space and two thirds inhabiting it. I didn’t know.

The work isn’t finished.  Costume shopping on the day of the show (typical me)Maxim in the shop sewing the hem of the expensive trousers I bought, feeding the baby just before the show at the theatre then dancing. Finding some things in performance, taking risks, some freefalling and some getting stuck ‘keep in the moment Jane keep in the moment’.

The post show discussion with the french audience revealed that for many, not all, the setting up of the space was tedious and long winded. One word ‘trivial’ in connection to the use of an extension lead stayed with me during the discussion and for a while afterwards all I could remember vividly was that remark. Not because the rest was unimportant but I wasn’t really ready to talk about it and therefore found myself already redoing things in my mind, a regular mental post-mortem always takes place anyway, always reliving my dancing trying to capture and hold onto something new I may have found or the opposite. I could only answer that I was interested in making the audiences imagination work, working with tension, building a relationship with space, with time, the idea of duration. David was very quiet and talked about duration with his inimitable care and precision and there seemed to me a hush settled. He described that here was an invitation for the audience to slow down. That if it were him he would go further in the exploration of duration. I’m paraphrasing but it was interesting. Bruno Joly the administrator described how I took the audience with me, that the work wasn’t long enough after they have invested in coming with me. For me I felt I still couldn’t find the kernel of the work. The way to move closer to finding it is to keep working at it. I received some good feedback and that is encouraging.

I’m arranging for dvds to be made, meeting someone to possibly start work on a website today, Alastair a man in Topsham we sometimes see in the swimming pool with his son, I hope that works. I’ve always found creating a website very difficult, creating something that feels like it reflects me has so far been impossible for me. I have a performance date in September for Singer in Bournemouth at Pavilion Dance as part of the Light Night Weekend so that is the next goal.

The two Normandy residencies have been a fantastic opportunity to kickstart a new process. I’m excited to keep at it and have to make sure I create a framework to support myself in staying connected with it over the coming weeks.  When there is no structure other than myself  I know I must take care to protect both the work and my confidence in it. I want to thank Dance South West for believing in me and giving me this opportunity in the first place. And to all my collaborators who’ve supported me, thank you very much.


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