I am really pleased by this blog. I hope some of you are reading and that being sat here at my kitchen table, hitting the keys, after a 13 hour day, is going to create some kind of meaning for you, reader.
I was last in the studio in August 2010, researching Blake. Then came a really long winter, of being in other people's studios, or being at a desk, or trying to find an office to put the desk in... of searching for the right collaborators. At times, the Blake Diptych felt like it would slip away.
I wanted then, as now, to create a show that could span an audience from 0 -100 years. I met with producers and venue managers and tried to articulate the vision, with this show, this unwieldy object, as a bit of an obstacle between us. It would be much easier if it were a children's show, or an adult show... but both... asking for trouble...
So, I asked for trouble. This is as good a description as any, of being an artist.
We are now at day 8. Yesterday, there were 6 dancers, two musicians, one actor, one writer, one lighting designer, one designer, one production manager and one costume supervisor in the theatre at the Old Laban building. It hadn't occurred to me before this moment, that we would all be together for the first time - with a couple of missing - but still, the company, together.
I thanked them, because them being there made sense of that long, dark winter. And they are so much more vibrant, and interesting that the vision inside my head. And to have them in the studio, and to be in a studio, and to see how these bodies start in a vague way and then we discover something true through movement or stillness - and I can see in the dancers this beautiful commitment - Pina Bausch said it so well to one of her dancers "your fragility is your strength" and with these dancers, I am trying to excavate how they can move, in a way that circumnavigates their brains, and cuts to something true.
Dancing is important. It is a freedom to dance. When you look around and see so much oppression and life being threatened, dance could be misunderstood as a trivial thing. But that would be a misunderstanding. The body longs to sing its own song. It will be here, a tiny piece of life for a short while, in the great stretch of infinity. Like an ant underfoot, that is each of us in our own tiny circle of life. We go through darker periods of non-freedom to get to these moments of light. For me, that moment is here. Rehearsals. Creation. Touring.
I am sharing this because our culture has this tendency to spin everything positively, and positivity is important. But I want the other choreographers and dancers and dance artists reading this to know, that you are right to ask for trouble, you are right to cling to the idea, to investigate the impossible, to dream and to follow a vision. William Blake saw angels, even as his father swore down he did not. If you have chosen this art of freedom, you will see angels dancing, as I am seeing in the studio today.
Have courage. Pray for me to have courage as I try to shape this thing.
I need to eat dinner.