siwic day 4 – killing dancers is fun

It started for real today. No more lazy 11am rolling into the studio feeling kinda lazy, no early finishes, and not just the six of us who have now successfully bonded. 10am and Nigel was ready to make 23 or something dancers jump around the studio like manics. He does a good class, not seriously technical, and somehow it seems short or that we don’t do a hell of a lot, but fucking oath do we break a sweat. Just when I was thinking i need to do more of that throw yourself at the floor gear and go a bit mental.

The task today was simple, and the structure of the day also plain; something to get used to for the weeks coming. Nigel laid out seven CDs, each with a different 2-3 minute track on it and we got to pick one at random. No proscriptions, other than the music will be played at some time in the showing of the day’s work. We can listen to it, or not, choreograph to it, or not. I gotta say I was pretty happy with my two minutes, Elvis singing Wooden Heart in German with an oom-pah band accompanyment. And I got six dancers, too. Pleased as punch.

I had this idea for a day or two that I’d in some way recreate the murder scene from I think, Hitchcock’s Notorious. It’s the scene where the hero and the evil spy’s glamourous moll get caught in the cabin by the henchman. Somehow they disarm him, there’s plenty of silent sturggling, and finally in agonising slowness, they drag him headfirst into the gas oven and proceed to do just that.

In a way I think it’s kinda derivative of everything I’ve done in the past couple of years, but at the same time, it’s stuff that still interests me. It’s not so much simply the hyper-stylised murder scenes, or unhealthy obsession with desecration. It’s more a nagging curiosity with taking quite dramatic scenes that are to a large degree improvised and recreating the minutia, the unconscious, unthought-of movements with such clarity, precision, accuracy, it becomes totally subsuming, an inexorable procession, an obliteration of self. It’s like if you imitate something with enough microscopic accuracy, you’ll become it, or cease to be anything else, and forcefully construct the fate and destiny of the persons you are imitating on yourself. It’s quite a cynical and deliberate attack on identity and I’m not sure where it’s going.

Anyway, the dancers were awesome and quite happy to be repeatedly strangled all afternoon, even on monstrously bloated stomachs from the orgy of lunch. Come five thirty, we got to see what we all got up to, and also for most of us get some idea of each others’ aesthetics and styles. Martin, whose work I haven’t seen since DanceWEB was the one I was waiting for, and he’s certainly got a weirdness that keeps me watching that hasn’t lessened in the last two years. Desolate and hopeless.

The day ended with a longish debriefing, discussion of the rehearsals with Nigel and the rest of SiWiC. It’s strange to have a person comment on my choreographic aproach, not so much what I make, but how I go about it. It’s usually dancers, or occasionally friends or designers discussing the work, but not how I go about making work. So, talking science-fiction movies, seeing old friends… wondering what else I can make, can i find some paradigm shift in my work before I start hell, do I need one, even?