Monday, 30 April 2012

Guest Suites Response from Esther Huss

Three years ago, Jacky started the initial research process for ‚Guest Suites‘. I was part of this process in 2009.

Back then, I was very unclear about my identity as a performer, strongly doubting the purpose and value of dance performance in general. To resume with the development of ‘Guest Suites’ in 2012, proved to be a great opportunity to gently reflect on how my experience of the already created material had changed. In this way, I could clearly measure my development as a performer and human being since 2009.

Tim, one of the other dancers writes in his blog that with ‘Guest Suites’ he felt he was invited to be himself. I fully agree, and had a very similar experience throughout the rehearsals and performances. Working with Jacky, and the vocabulary involved, allowed for a very personal and human performance. I often felt that being a performer one was expected to be something other than human. Dance is such a human thing to do, it seems absurd to deny ones humanity on stage. Working with Jacky is very contrary to that. The invitation or expectation to be yourself is clear, and empowers each performer… ..

Jacky regularly uses imagery when creating new material, whether they are physical images or imagery that she verbally expresses. It is fun to collaboratively find ways to physically respond to these. And I thoroughly enjoyed her playful movement suggestions, and ability to physically demonstrate movements herself. A particularly pleasurable process was developing the ‘Alemande’ of the 3rd Suite, which is based on 12 images taken from magazines and newspapers. Again, Jacky invited to, as she would probably say, ‘embody the images’, which is a fascinating process of really becoming the ‘thing’, not simply appearing like it. How liberating!

At no point did I feel we aimed for a performance of ‘perfection’, rather we sought to respond to our environment and venue. This meant being spontaneous on the night, and left no opportunity to get too comfortable or familiar with the piece. Again, I believe it was this spontaneity that enabled a performance of 6 human beings that performed together, as opposed to a company perfecting their repertoire…

York Minster truly stood out for me, an experience where audience and performers seemed equally empowered by its surroundings. Also, the benefit of performing with people of different generations was one of the most pleasurable things of ‘Guest Suites’. It made us as a company richer, in age, conversations, experiences etc….If possible, I would jump at the opportunity to sign a contract where this was the case at all times….

And then, there was the music, which was key to any development and sensation of each performance and its process. It was delightful to work with Audrey and Jonathan, in a way they left no opportunity for the dance to become the prime focus of the performance. The music was far more than a layer in the piece, but continuously inspired me to keep pushing myself and respond to the tones of the night. It made the experience very alive and real.

Jack’s care, passion and great ability to light each piece was another aspect that strongly impacted on each performance. I strongly felt that each discipline deeply respected the other, with the awareness that we were all co-dependant in a way.

To me, ‘Guest Suites’ was a celebration of individuals, and it therefore follows that the audience was able to relate to the piece.

Esther Huss, performer in Guest Suites by Jacky Lansley, 2012.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Guest Suites at York Minster, 3rd March

Tim Taylor and Esther Huss

David Ogle and Sanna Ryg, Audrey Riley playing Cello

Huri Murphy, Tim Taylor, Sanna Ryg and David Ogle

Fergus Early with Tim Taylor, Huri Murphy, Esther Huss, David Ogle and Sanna Ryg

Photography by Ellie Keeble, York Minster Chapter House, 3rd March 2012

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Guest Suites | Response by Tim Taylor

Guesting in Jacky Lansley’s new work composed, in a sense, in dialogue with the Bach Cello Suites – the first three – with additional Suite Inserts by Jonathan Eato (and with recorded elements of Pablo Casals’ twentieth century “rediscovery” of the suites) has been a stirring and artistically tantalising experience. On the one hand, there is a precision that – for the dancer – must be found … a kind of simplicity and finesse that does not blur line or tempo but places it honestly, succinctly and, on the other, moving with the music (and because of the presence of Audrey Riley’s vivid, visceral playing and the physical boldness of dancing itself) has the effect of creating a need for a soulfulness – anew – at each performance.

Even before considering the experience of Jacky’s choreography with its sophisticated interlacing of modernist shape and angle, geometric spatial patterning, idiosyncratic gestural language, refined referencing of dance forms and innate theatricality – the music – in the various forms that it has emerged throughout the experience of process and production – evokes a fluid exchange between a certain constancy in its form – a deep and sustained voice – and the tapestry of melodic and rhythmic variation that works in and around that voice. The music itself is in dialogue.

Enter: dance! For me, and working with dancers younger and older than myself, guided and choreographed by an artist who selects her cast and what they asked to do astutely, I felt that I was invited to be who I am – kind of walking in from what has been left behind – with a feeling of where I am going next. There is a visit a-foot. I danced three minuets. The social exchange of the first with the beautiful Huri Murphy – poised between decorum and intrigue; the second with cellist Audrey Riley set to the blues of Jonathan’s plain-chant – intense and open-ended; the third – no more than a whisper of a minuet – a single tour – moving around the floor with the accompaniment of a solitary low tone – in homage to Merce Cunnigham in later years – circling the stage and illuminating, perhaps illuminating (at least in my dancer’s mind’s eye) a sort of duet between the dance and the music (as was so eloquently achieved by Cunningham and Cage) embodied within the last gigue of the third suite: a final collage – mysterious, on-going, dialogical,

Each of the venues set its own mark too: the Clore at the ROH – lab-like, open-studied, London-nervy; the Minster – stone-gargoyled, immense, dark and four-dimensional; the Barbican in Plymouth – beautifully lit, contained, curated and community-enhanced (indeed, enhanced with nine fine performances from southwest-based dancers spanning five generations). Then, we had our audience. As my friend, Tamar Valley-based artist, Jo insightfully observed – the door was opened and we performers and audience passed through it to each other’s world. And we danced together.

The metaphor of the open door is a good one. Even if not everyone achieved the sense of pleasure that was undoubtedly experienced by the majority, I have an abiding feeling that as people passed literally and imaginatively between stage and stalls, between their responses to the sensations of sound and the effects of motion and vision and (and touch) and from the starting point of expectation to the outcome of experience, the invitation to share in Guest Suites is one, as a company, I believe we can feel proud of having made.

Tim Taylor, dancer in Guest Suites 2012

See more of Tim's work here