‘Testing Ground’ at Circomedia, Bristol

Testing Ground: Experiments in Dance, Circomedia, Bristol

Wow, what an evening! Flickerr Dance travelled to Bristol to take part in ‘Testing Ground: Experiments in Dance’, and what a great opportunity it was. Not only could we show another version of ‘Transliterate’, this time with all female dancers, which fitted nicely into what happened to be an all female performance.

Testing Ground was an opportunity for artists to try out new ideas (the next one is March 23rd so get along), and offers opportunity where the audience are just as important as the performers. We want to hear what YOU want to say. How does the audience feel in regards to the pieces? How did they perceive them? What would they do differently? Did they even like them?

There were six pieces in Testing Ground, which was supported by Theatre Bristol, Circomedia, Bath Dance and Laila Diallo.

First of all, there was Laura Moy presenting ‘Freezing Point’ (working title), which was in it’s very early stages. ‘Freezing Point’ is an exploration of movement and it’s possibilities with a low set bungee harness. This meant hovering over the floor, moving in ways defying gravity that you could not otherwise, and leaps and weight transfers that were truly incredible.

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She stated ‘physical struggles, challenges, failings. attempting to find balance. reaching tipping point. attachment. letting go. unable to let go’.

I think this summarises it rather nicely and was eager to see more; more struggles and strifes between her and the bungee, and more successes. There were moments (few) were she was standing normally. I enjoyed these as a moment to connect with her, and see her as a person as opposed to this amazing, gravity defying, stretchy, strong, super-human.

Next was ‘Pre Scribed (a life written for me)’ by Viv Gordon.

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Viv is developing work to be shown as part of a festival using artists to share the experiences and lives, in particular the mental health of those working in the medical profession. Viv is looking at life as a GP, working in a public service that is so close to breaking point.

‘My life is ridiculous

Every day I engage in a rapid series of one way interactions in which

I

Dont

Matter’

Viv did a marvellous job of bringing emotive comedy to the stage, prescribing life as a GP and the difficulties, and yet managing to make the audience both sympathise, empathise and laugh. This work in progress was incredibly emotive and incredibly sad. At the audience discussion she asked two words that summarised the performance. To me, these were ‘sad’ and ‘funny’. She did an amazing job of making me laugh and, possibly, once the piece has finished, making me cry. I believe this work is so important. How often do we think of the medical professional sitting there as we talk about our problems?

Viv used spoken word throughout; it was very much so theatre even though there were elements of dance. She used lyrical music, and moved out actions to it, slowly and phonetically. I had never seen this before, and would never have thought to ever use it in my choreography but it worked really well. Definitely an idea I will take when thinking about how to connect with wider audiences than those already perceptive to contemporary dance.

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After Viv, came a solo by Crystal Zillwood, ‘These Hands’ which used recorded interviews of farmers and movement. Her movement quality was truly incredible and she was mesmerising to watch. I loved being able to look at the works with a critical eye, due to it being about audience feedback and artists using this to build the pieces, and when watching Crystal I wanted more stillness. The reason I wanted this was to have a moment to stop and process the fluid movements that I was seeing, and to connect her to the audience. However, I do understand, having lived on a farm, that farm work never stops.

“These Hands’ explores the choices made and the lives lead by those living on a farm, and I couldn’t help but wander what differences we would have were I to create a solo based on my farm life in the Highlands of Scotland. Maybe a possibility to explore……

And then there was us! Flickerr Dance company. Performing Transliterate as a trio, including myself, Sarah Fletcher and company director and choreographer, Felicity Kerr. The feedback we received was brilliant. People enjoyed the work! And felt it complete. Felicity aims to expand on it by delving into other Fugues and placing them together, so I personally feel the fact that people enjoyed this one, and felt it complete, a great opportunity to begin work on the next one. It really felt like the choreography Felicity had created was right on track.

img_9980So often as choreographers it can be rather difficult to develop work with other dancers, due to expense, rehearsals and availability. However the impact of the three of us on stage felt massive, and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of a piece able to use interpersonal relationships throughout it.

Delicia Sefiha then performed ‘The Unamable’ based on a character from a book. The way she responded to music with her body was just incredible, and I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed her music choices. They were quirky yet relatable and providing humour at certain points. I always find humour so difficult to choreograph so admired being able to see this subtly, alongside other emotions, in this piece. She used the space incredibly well, and the physical rendition portrayed ‘someone who wanders, who questions, who seeks to define itself’. I loved her use of the story over the top of music, and it was great to have both word and instrumental in the piece. Looking at this, I realised how much I need to decide and determine facial expressions in my next piece. These really added to her work, and although some were not so, she delivered them gracefully.

And last but not least was ‘Queen Cunt’ by Deborah Ward and China Blue Fish.

Which was, as they describe ‘An exploration of womanhood today – from the caricature of a politician ‘man-woman’ who supports ecocide, to the wild, feminine, raw energy suppressed, radical, earth-power’.

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It was strong, emotive, funny and yet serious. It was angry. It was vulgar, and the theatre delivered was truly captivating. .They definitely succeeded in their wish to share comic and honest reflections on female power. The use of costume (including a mask) was very powerful here, and the audience was only able to view the performer’s face at the very last minute. This added to suspense, and created a character easy to hate, or admire, or fixate upon, different from how we view one another. I am sure I felt this because of the truly exceptional acting itself.

Overall, it was a truly splendid evening and I felt honoured to be part of it. Many thanks to Felicity Kerr at Flickerr Dance for this very great and very pleasurable opportunity.

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