I waited in eager anticipation to find out whether I had got into one of Dance House’s professional residencies. These residencies are quite rare (although are becoming increasingly popular – with many a company trying to provide them), and for my availability between London and Shetland to fit when it was on was even rarer.
Errol White and Davina Givan are really two of the greats when it comes to Scottish choreographers, referred to as ‘The leading contemporary dance duo of Scotland’.
I couldn’t believe it when I was selected to take part in the week long residency, culminating in a sharing in Glasgow on the Friday. And doing this straight after panto really got me straight back into contemporary dance.
“As experienced, mature artists who have spent over a quarter of a century together, we create performances of the highest quality and our work demands that we are at peak capacity that in turn allows our artistry to flourish. We endeavour to make work that engages audiences on a physical and emotional level. We like to allow the subtleties and the performativity within our work to take our audience on a journey without the necessity of a more traditional and conventional ‘theatre’ narrative.” Errol White and Davina Givan
The week was rather intense (in a great way) with morning class really looking at technique, and how we were delivering it. It was a real pleasure to get guidance in this. So often when taking professional class you take what you can from it, but lack of consistency often proves difficult for continuous improvement. The class was led by Errol with input from Davina and was based in a variety of styles, predominantly Cunningham, which was amazing for me as this is what I am least experienced in!
We then moved on to learning repetoire from their latest piece ‘Breathe’ which has acclaimed reviews and has been touring Scotland.
From the rep we created our own phrases both in the form of solos and duets holding tension.
I loved the residency. It felt so luxurious to have time and space to explore and create, and not only that but to meet other dance artists and the choreographers themselves. Working a self-employed dance artist can often be rather insular. Between working in different settings and travelling to them alone, to then doing all the necessary administration, you lose the whole idea of ‘colleagues’. Although there are the few settings that really include you, often when teaching you only see the participants, you don’t have an office buddy to make tea with and when creating material, it often becomes in your bedroom for lack of studio space. To have all 8 of us working together, creating, sharing and exploring felt so lovely and so connecting. The combination of the new dance moves and new friends really made for a glorious week!
The intensity of the work that we were learning was really inspiring. As you may know, myself and regular dance partner of mine, Gordon Raeburn created a duet this Summer. We had points of tension and had moments of grasping to each other. However having done Errol and Davina’s residency I could see how much further we could have pushed. The tension they created was remarkable, and following on from this and creating it ourselves allowed us a safe environment to try that with someone else to. I realised this last week, as I was creating new work, that I had unintentionally and subconsciously taken some ideas from the residency into it. Which is great! That’s why we go to these residencies; to learn and to grow and to be able to put this into our work. I love to keep learning, and to keep doing so is an opportunity that I am very grateful to Dance House Glasgow for organising, and to Errol and Davina themselves for creating such an encouraging environment where we could learn, grow and really throw ourselves into creating.
What a great finish to 2016! Here’s hoping 2017 will continue with more of this……