More than mere movements

sensory spectacle

More than mere movements

RUN is explosive in its eloquence and searing in its honesty. It rips into your soul, leaving you confronting emotions you never meant to know. But you do now; and you cannot hide anymore. Your only choice is to fight or take flight.

Tamsin Fitzgerald is, by vocation, artistic director and choreographer of the award-winning 2Faced Dance Company, UK. By talent, she is a master craftsman chiselling at the banality of life to expose the riot of our murky colours within. RUN is a triple bill by 2Faced Dance Company that seeks to “explore the darker side of humanity, through an explosion of movement, theatre and design.”

The presentation features an all-male company whose innovative physicality and emotional virtuosity is breathtaking. The three independent female choreographers are as diverse in their interpretations “of fear and our responses to fear,” as they are bound by their prodigious talent. RUN was coordinated by Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bengaluru.

From above

It spoke of the agony and ecstasy of relationships fettered, strained, broken; the result of the bombardment of information through social media that we experience in our daily lives; and the subsequent loss of our own opinions. “Instead, other people’s wishes, fears and emotions are projected onto us. Unconscious motivations related to transference also affect our ‘filtering’ process, and this, then, determines the choices we make in establishing relationships,” explains choreographer Tamsin Fitzgerald.

To adequately project this on stage, Fitzgerald “started looking at a design that could change, shift and mould the space to influence the dancers’ movement, without their awareness.” This took the form of three suspended light panels, at varying degrees of intensity and height that “shifted and changed the space and had a direct influence on the mood and emotion of the work.” It was amazing to see how the light that initially defined, eventually confined!

2Faced Dance was established in 1999 with the dual purpose of dance innovation and education. Of her all-male team Fitzgerald says, “They can be very competitive with one another, but can also be sensitive and understanding of each other’s needs.”

All three presentations of RUN were visually stunning, thanks to maverick Lighting Designer James Mackenzie. He makes a pertinent point when he says, “Often in dance the way we approach the lighting may also in turn influence the movement.” It was a moot point if the dancers followed the light or vice versa. 

It is imperative to this lighting designer to communicate with choreographers before they start creating the movement. “I worked closely with all the choreographers to establish what kind of mood and atmosphere they were trying to express,” he says.

Fallen angels

Each one of us hides our wings as well as our horns. In a terrifying scenario that captivates your attention in a vice-like embrace,  Czech choreographer Lenka Vagnerova recreated the madness and mayhem that could occur if the horns (read baser instincts) hold sway. “Despair, anger, taste of power, urgency, rebellion... all those emotions are more or less hidden in every human being,” says Vagnerova. How we react, independently and to each other when we become ‘fallen angels’ is what Vagnerova sought to explore in her commissioned piece for RUN.
This multi-faceted, independent choreographer, dancer and dance teacher “perceives dance as a complex theatrical form, with the ability to create any kind of illusion. I always search for the movement material based on the situation, character, conflict, relation, emotion. All this guides me to create new specific movement qualities and dynamics,” she says.

I ask how much of their individuality the dancers had to forgo to become fallen angels? “It is a very difficult question,” she admits. “We were working on this transformation from the beginning. How to ‘jump’ to somebody else’s body or how to become someone else in our own body. Some of the characters, movements or metaphors are of course very different than the dancers’ individual identities but at the same time there is a range of emotions which they could invest from themselves to fill these roles.”

Of all the dynamics that coalesce to make up powerful contemporary dance theatre, to Vagnerova the singular most important element is music. “I feel her (music) like an equivalent partner on the stage. Music is inseparably part of the play, it moves the story forward with all its emotions, sounds and dynamics,” she says.

Music was the form that gave RUN its infinite strength and beauty. The original scores were composed by Angus MacRae and Tomas Vychytil. MacRae describes the music as “a combination of classical and electronic textures.” The bulk of the music came together whilst the piece was being created, he said, with most of the score written literally just outside of the rehearsal room door! “The challenge when writing 30 minutes of continuous music is in ensuring that sense of continuity throughout — ensuring that all of the pieces of the puzzle are connected,” explains MacRae.

In a mesmerising, chillingly beautiful duet, independent choreographer Rebecca Evans, working on her first commissioned piece, takes us on a walk of fear in the genre of old horror movies, to discover, each for himself, what fear means. What lifted this piece out of the ordinary was the integration of five hand held lights to depict “the play of light and shadow, good and evil that were important elements in this work.” 

“Attempting to use new technology on stage and integrate it into a movement context,” was for Evans, the most difficult part of creating ‘The Other’. Alisdair Blackwell is credited with designing and developing the digital circuits and ‘robot lights’ as he calls the lamps. “The light responds to the movement of the dancers. The idea is that the lighting design happens as the performance takes place, based on what the dancer is doing,” explains Blackwell.

“Dance works best when all creative elements collaborate together,” says Mackenzie. No truer words said. RUN was a happy confluence of so many artistic voices, each strongly independent yet never over-shadowing the other. This is probably the singular factor that made RUN such a runaway success!

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