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Friday, 29 July 2011

Two days to go!

This is a very overdue blog! Here commences a whirlwind tour of the last few weeks prior to our final performance on Sunday.

Since the last update we have structured a twenty minute piece with all of the choreographic sections created since week one. Beth has managed to incorporate our duets, solos, unison phrase, walking improvisation as well as a new quartet and ending! We pieced together a skeleton of this structure last Friday but had a few people missing so it was hard to picture the final product without them or edited music.

We had an additional session last Sunday and ventured out of our usual home at London Bubble to visit Laban (a dance conservatoire in Deptford). Beth and I both work at Laban so arranged for the group to come and see the building and rehearse in the beautiful studios. We were also very lucky to see the sunshine - perfect picnic weather! Despite having an extended rehearsal of 5 hours the day went flying by. It was a satisfying feeling to finish with a sketchy run through to the music we hoped to use for each section. 20 minutes of dancing!! What an achievement in 8 weeks!

Last Friday Jonathon took one group of dancers back outside to make the most of the nice evening and photograph some of their landscape sculptures by the river. He has taken some great snaps which will gradually creep their way onto the website shortly! (

Tonight is our final session at London Bubble :-( who have been lovely, welcoming hosts - we highly recommend them! Fingers crossed we have a full cast of dancers ready to polish, rehearse and refine ready for Sunday.

It has been a pleasure seeing and dancing with such lovely people for the last 8 weeks and I will definitely miss our Friday sessions. Do come and join us at Richmix, Venue 1 on Sunday. The dancers have a lot to be proud of and deserve the support! Plus it is free to see them dance beautifully!

Bring on Sunday funday!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Past the half way mark

Apologies for the absence of last week's blog - the week disappeared and suddenly it was Friday again! We are now past the half way mark and technically only have three sessions left to complete our choreographic community. However, whilst we is a lack of remaining choreographic time we have an abundance of choreography to date!

Prior to a catch up on activity though it is important to announce our latest news:


Arts Odyssey will be presenting the culminating performance of 'Choreographing Community' on Sunday 31st July, 4pm at Richmix, Shoreditch.

We are very excited about the upcoming performance but are now aware we need to push on with collating our movement material, recapping and rehearsing it ready for Beth to link together to form one piece.

Last week (week 4) we started our last choreographic task. Splitting into two groups we used photos of Bermondsey and the local area (to be posted shortly) as stimuli to create still landscape formations with our bodies. Once we set these we worked on how to transition smoothly from one to the other. The aim was to do so in such a way that it was almost unnoticeable. This week we refined them and then made the most of a rare sunny Friday evening to try them outside, along the riverside and in the park. Jonathon (our lovely photographer) directed us into position and managed to prevent anyone falling into the Thames!

In addition to this newest section we worked on some simple walking patterns that Beth taught us. Once we had picked them up we improvised with them playing with starting and stopping, entering and exiting the space and interacting with each other. This week we also introduced hugs and handshakes to the improvisation (from our warm up last week) which descended into a lot of throwing each other about!

To summarise the movement material under our belts so far we have been working on several sections:

  • Body connection/linking duets and trios (started in week 1)

  • Walking Patterns to improvise with

  • The main phrase (taught by Beth)

  • Extension of main phrase - "arm bit" (only learnt by some dancers)

  • School of fish identity phrases (two group phrases)

  • Role solos (made from the thought shower and our list of roles in the community)

  • Landscape Formations

Over the last two sessions we have been remembering, recapping, rehearsing and refining this material and then experimenting with how we perform it. With the main phrase we have been trying out different facings in the room, starting and stopping at different points and playing with how dancers relate to each other.

We are very excited that Sabio Janiak, an incredible musician has agreed to write a section of our music for us. Have a look at his work:

Finally, we are very grateful to Lee Smikle (Artistic Director of Shoreditch Youth Dance and Artist in Residence at Richmix) for supporting Arts Odyssey and for organising for us to perform at Richmix. Shoreditch Youth Dance Company have a performance coming up on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 July 2011. I recommend you get there if you can!

Have a look: or ttp://

So, until next week - start rounding the troops for our performance on Sunday 31st July. It should be a treat and at a cost of FREE it is a steal!

Jumping over and dancing out......

Friday, 1 July 2011

Thought Showers

I have just discovered that it is no longer considered politically correct to use the term 'brain storm' and todays lingo should be 'thought shower'. However, as usual, this weeks session coincided with more of a storm than a shower outside of the studio!

This week we were a few people down due to the weather and illness but still managed to produce more choreographic material to add to the pot (participants keep an eye on vimeo for the footage). The focus was on solo material and was developed from our 'thought shower' about how we interpret community and the roles we all play withing them.

Prior to our choreographic explorations though we kicked off in a circle with clapping and rhythm games before creating mini body percussion orchestras. The individual rhythm patterns sounded surprisingly good when put together although it was quite difficult to remember them with everyone else around sounding out something different!

To get us moving in the space we used some ideas Ana (a participant) had suggested. Looking at the concept that there are 'moves where all human beings interact on a basic level irrelevant of origin, race, colour or nationality' we thought more about how we communicate and greet each other. Using movements relating to a welcome or greeting from different cultures we created a spatial warm up including a high 5, bow, hug, handshake and pat on the back (only a few of many but a good place to start?).

After recapping the phrase of movement taught by Beth we learnt 3 walking phrases that we improvised with as a group (see vimeo) to get our creative juices flowing!

In two groups we took a break from dancing to discuss how we each interpreted the term 'commmunity' and what it meant to us. These were some of the thoughts:

Community means:

  • People

  • Social networking - expanding communities - no longer local - now global community

  • Diversity

  • Links

  • Identity within the community

  • Belonging

  • stages of life (community changes)

  • safety

  • Isolated (cliquey)

  • Familiar

  • Common ground

  • support network

  • neighbours, work, home, friends, family, hobby, religion, school

  • transport - bike vs tube vs car!

  • roots

  • judgemental/confinement

  • coming together

  • differences - made up of differences

  • culture - different cultures together

  • shared space and values

  • help and support

  • passing of information and word of mouth - verbal community

  • structured (school) vs unstructured (youth worker)

  • attitude - different perspectives (inclusion vs exclusion)

  • Identity - within yourself

  • need time to come together

  • understanding of commoness (different in different situations)

  • Experience and memories

  • building/developing/growing

  • claustraphobic as well as free

  • grounding

This discussion led us onto the roles that we each play in our community or communities. Beth asked us to each write one role down on a piece of paper and put it into a communal bag. Each dancer then took a role out and created a movement in response to it (not descriptive in a charades style!). We then repeated this process three times until each dancer had a solo phrase of movement consisting of each role response. The roles were quite entertaining! See below:

  • Volunteer at battersea dog and cats home (I stroke cats)

  • Squash games organiser

  • Rehabilitation

  • Role model

  • (meeting point) "meeter"

  • Housemate

  • Co-passenger

  • Peace Keeper

  • Problem Solver

  • Uni project writer

  • Aunt

  • Mum

  • Student

  • Leader

  • Member

I wish I knew who had written each one! Beth and I were very impressed with the very creative and beautiful solos created.

We have a lot to recap on tonight.

Let's hope we have more showers of thought and fewer showers of rain......

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

School of Fish

Accompanied by yet more rain we met again on Friday for the second session of Choreographing Community. After a recap of what we had covered the week before we managed to integrate our four new members into our name game AND remember our name actions from the first week.

We whizzed through a warm up using the five actions we had started with the week before (jump, turn, touch the floor, suspend and swing)and trying out some improvisation based on body part isolations. This nearly fell apart when I suggested isolating middle fingers because I was then faced with 23 people swearing at me! I will think more carefully about the body parts I suggest next time.

Temporarily splitting the group into those who were able to attend last week and our newcomers gave us time to recap the duets and trio from last week and teach the phrase of material we learnt to those it was new to. We then shared this revealing some tweaks and amendments to the choreography created last week.

Beth led an exercise called 'school of fish' which consisted of two groups moving in unison and organically changing directions and movements seamlessly. This was quite entertaining to watch, particularly when the concept of a rebel fish (off shoots of each group) was added.

Following this fun but silly explorative play we developed two phrases of movement in two groups. This was done through accumulation of individual moves contributed by each participant. The brief was to teach your action/move (developed from the stimulus of 'identity' - in whatever way you interpret that) to everyone in the group and then as a group find ways to link them together. Once the group was confident they could remember the sequence they played with how to perform it. e.g. in canon, different speeds, different facings. When we shared the results we danced to Regina Spektor's 'Us' and several people commented how emotional it was to dance in unison to such lovely music.

Although we hadn't quite got through everything Beth and I had planned for the session I was so impressed with how willing everybody was to take part and contribute creatively. There was lots of laughing alongside the productivity!

Installment two was topped off with a lovely trip to The Angel pub on the river front...a perfect way to finish a spot of community bonding!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The day after the night before!

Accompanied by a soundscore of terrential rain and cracks of thunder we kickstarted the project last night with an impressive cast of 22 people. Initiation came in the form of an epic name game around our giant circle - I feel sorry for the five people we have joining us next week because they have a lot of gestures to attach to faces!

Once we had weaved and handshaked our way through a warm up Beth taught a phrase of movement to switch on our thinking caps. A few worried faces and conscientious questions followed but several run throughs later and everyone was moving in the same direction, at the same time and beginning to put their stamp onto it. (we will put a video of Beth dancing the phrase on vimeo for the group to see and practice if they wish!)

Florence and the Machine helped us travel across the floor before creative mayhem commenced. Beth and I thought the best way to get a group of strangers better aquainted was to encourage them to get up close and personal so everyone was instructed to connect named body parts to body parts (e.g. ear to knee or elbow to hip). The result was on the lines of a giant game of twister!

Working with a partner to build up a set of four body part connections with linking movements in between led to the development of duets. Each pair then joined another duo and taught each other their movement phrases to create quartets. We then shared the results of these collaborations with each other. It was lovely to be in a supportive environment - lots of clapping and smiles (and some giggles!). It will be interesting to see how these duets and quartets develop the more we get to know each other.

We have asked everyone to have a think over the next week about what 'community' means to them. How do we as individuals fit into, contribute to, influence or be influenced by community? Are we part of just one community or several? What unifies a group of diverse individuals to form a community?

Beth will be exploring the idea of a landscape (urban, physical, people etc) and the concept of a patchwork of people over the coming weeks and feeding in the group's experiences, ideas and thoughts. Who knows where we will end up?!

Jonathon, our photographer, has kindly agreed to get involved, get to know us and blend into the background to catch the highlights. He set a precedent last night by throwing himself into the warm up too!

I hope everyone enjoyed the first session as much as we did. We feel very lucky to have such a lovely bunch to work with and are looking forward to seeing what next week brings.....

Friday, 10 June 2011

New Beginnings...

Today is D Day or would C Day be more appropriate? 'Choreographing Community' our 8 week adult dance project starts this evening. We are delighted to be completely fully booked with a waiting list of keen beans sitting in the sidelines. Beth, our choreographer, and I have planned prepped and we are very excited about meeting everyone tonight!

The project is taking place at The London Bubble Theatre, who have kindly supported us and we are very grateful to IdeasTap who have financially supported this work. We can't wait to get started!

The group are going to explore the concept and definition of 'community' through discussions and movement workshops. Tonight will be an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other, have some fun and start moving.We will be keeping you up to date with our progress so watch this space!