I was warned in advance of attending Birmingham Dance Network’s annual showcase of new dance work that the audience would be invited to provide written feedback to the artists, but somehow I forgot to bring a pen. Here I’ve attempted to answer the questions asked on the feedback form for each of the six pieces. I lose a degree of anonymity, but, well, should’ve brought a pen.
Petite Fleur Garçon by Jigsaw Collective
Did you feel it was relatable on any level and if so why?
Not sure what you mean by ‘relatable’ here. I really enjoyed the relationship between the music and the movements in this solo — you move fantastically well, and the way you were expressing Edith Piaf’s music, sometimes with your whole body and sometimes just with a hand, was really great.
What didn’t work for you in particular, not from a professional stance but personal taste?
I’m not sure the mime section, where you were watering the sunflower, worked as well as the rest of the piece. I can see how that style of performance could fit into the whole classic Gallic feel, but perhaps the ideas in this section need developing a bit more?
Canvi by Nicole McCarthy
How did this piece make you feel?
Calm, bucolic, perhaps a little melancholic. I felt the piece was effective at creating the sort of Arcadian atmosphere I think you were aiming for, but sometimes I was distracted by some of the small details that didn’t go as smoothly or as fluidly as perhaps the style of the piece demands. Sometimes simpler movements performed really well can have a stronger effect than more complex ones.
Would you like to see more choreography by Nicole McCarthy based on this performance?
If you can work on getting the small details right, then yes.
Ladylike by Sista Sista
Any comments welcome…
I thought there was some great partner work in this piece, like when one of you shook the other’s head with both hands. My feeling is that the synchronicity between the two dancers is key to the impact of this spindley, athletic style of dance, so if anything could be improved then I’d suggest working on this aspect. Do you identify the energy of this piece as ‘masculine’ because the leading choreographers in this style are men?
Infinite Womanhood by ChoreoMatch Company / Laura Vanhulle
Which are the bits you can connect with and why?
I could connect with the shades of Pina Bausch tanztheater in this piece — the flinging the hair about, the spoken words, the sense of repression and then gradually sinking into madness. I thought the performances of the three dancers were excellent.
What would you like to see more around the theme of Infinite Womanhood?
Let me answer your question with a question: what interests does it serve, and what histories does it reveal, to perpetuate the impression of womanhood as being essentially hysterical?
Sensate by Jo Cork
How did you find the elements of choreography, editing, and score worked together to produce an emotional response or interpretation in you, the viewer?
I think what interested me most about this dance film was the sensitive, tactile exploration of different materials — the goo you were covered in at the start, and the stone, moss, and gravel that appear in later scenes. Sometimes I felt that the tension and agitation of the choreography, editing, and score worked against this aspect of the film.
Which of these elements — or relationships between these elements — would you like to see more or less exploration/use of? Can you say why?
More exploration of materials, less angst! What can I say, I’m a classic introvert, I get overwhelmed quickly by dramatic appeals to the emotions.
Here We Are by Becca Thomas
What would you like to change?
I’m going to dodge this question, partly because I’m now not as anonymous as I’d like, and partly because I’m not sure it’s the question your piece is really asking (even though you asked it directly of us, microphone in hand, midway through the piece). Instead, I have some questions for you:
- Why did you feel the necessity (a necessity I also felt, but maybe for slightly different reasons) to bracket the ‘dance’ part of the piece (which was sensitively choreographed and very well performed) with sections of direct verbal engagement with the ‘audience’?
- What is it that makes the traditional approach to dance performance no longer possible, or at least no longer enough for you?
- Did you invite us to become involved, to the extent of getting up and sharing the stage with you, because you felt like you’d reached the limits of your agency as a performer to effect meaningful change?
- Is change something that happens between people, rather than something that individuals do? What changes might we be able to make together, as a group, that we couldn’t make as individuals?
Please describe this piece in 5 words:
I can’t be that concise.
Introducing… The night as a whole
How has your night been? Let us know if it lacked anything, had too much of something or if you have any bright ideas to make it even better?
It was a great night, and the Two Garys did a very good job of hosting! The Birmingham Dance Network is clearly a closely-knit community, but some of the banter went over the heads of ‘outsiders’ like me. It was still a very enjoyable introduction to Birmingham’s independent dance community — shame it only happens once a year!