After an audition in January 2012 I was invited to join the final stages of Jacky Lansley's research project Guest Suites. As the project was to be presented at The Clore Studio in mid-February the rehearsal period that followed was, for me, an intense one. It was partly re-constructing material from video; from dancer Ayano Honda; from Jacky herself, and partly mentally and physically exploring the musical landscape of Bach's Cello suites, played by Audrey Riley. It was also finding a dialogue and common language with the other dancers in the piece, none of whom I had worked with before.
It was a challenge, but during the process Jacky guided us through, explaining how she had researched the music and the movements between 2009 and now, and also how she had worked on previous pieces. Because of this my body felt at home in the vocabulary, and it fused with the music in such a way that that every time one piece was run, I found a new layer in the music and the movements could rest in that layer, to then next time find yet another layer and so on... Many people have a strong relationship with these suites, and because of this project mine is that I now listen to individual suites, remember the movements and the feeling from the performances and rehearsals, and then dive deeper into them to search for new details, which I hope will continue for a long time.
Yet another challenge and/or aspect to Guest Suites, was the three different venues we performed at. First was The Clore Studio at the ROH, where the stage was a conventional square with the audience as a "front". The space was opened up by us dancers always being "on stage", and at the same time watching our co-dancers and Audrey. This meant that for 70 minutes you performed in some of the pieces physically, but mentally in all of them, as your energy was a part of Guest Suites at all times, not only when dancing. In York Minster the audience surrounded the space. For me, this brought yet another layer into the pieces as the audience members seemed to direct all their energy towards us, to those sat opposite them and to the room. At the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth, Jacky had invited nine dancers to join us in some of the pieces. We had been warned that nine more dancers on stage could present a spatial challenge, but as a young and fairly inexperienced dancer I thought it would be an even greater challenge to, in one day, meet and integrate with nine new bodies, ideas and ways of expression. However, as Jacky had worked with the guest dancers on ideas in the same way she had worked with us, expanding the company for one performance turned out to feel like a natural step in the process. The work fed of it, and what I had thought of as a challenge became a very exciting experience.
The project also meant that I was given the chance to meet performers from different stages in life, an opportunity which I think any young dancer should jump on if given. The rehearsals, travels and post-performance time was open for discussion, not only about the work, but about dance as an art and as an identity. The main thing that has stayed with me is the idea that you are never "too old" to perform. There is a natural development in how you go at it, but as long as the longing to say or explore something is there, one is never done. This was reassuring and to a certain extent very liberating. I can try and fail and try again, search for as long as I want, take what is offered to me and not having to settle in my ways ever, unless I want to. There is no rush. For this and for 10 wonderful weeks of curiosity, openness and aha-experiences I can only say: Thank you.
Sanna Eriksson- Ryg, performer in Guest Suites by Jacky Lansley, 2012