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.

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