What was your choreographic vision for the work? Did this come to fruition?
My vision coming into this project was to stay true to my own company’s style of movement, which heavily revolves around contact work and touch. I wanted to create a safe space where contact and partnering were embedded from the outset in order to achieve a supportive ensemble feeling. These are all things that I felt we created very easily and in fact I feel that the dancers exceeded my expectations in bringing this to life.
How would you describe your relationship to the dancers, their relationships with each other, and the creative process you undertook with them?
Over the course of the project my relationship with the dancers grew stronger and stronger. Being greeted in the morning with high fives, cheery faces and an abundance of infectious energy inevitably made this process one of the most enjoyable I have undergone. It was important for me to approach this process with the same creative expectation I do with my own company. Every single dancer gave there all to the process, they blew me away with their professionalism. Still to this day I am missing the smiley, cheery and warm welcomes in the morning.
I wanted to make sure that the room felt safe and supported whilst challenging and pushing the dancers into newer areas. Seeing the dancers face challenges head on, overcoming them rather than running away from them, was incredibly warming. There was a real sense of shared appreciation for one another. After the performance I was ecstatic, I still am. I’m not sad though as I know our paths will cross again at some point as the work we created together still has life within it.
How did it feel to work with two first time collaborators of young disabled and non-disabled dancers? What will you take away from this experience?
This has been my first time leading on a project such as this and going into the first day of rehearsals I was slightly apprehensive. I didn’t know if the group would bond with me or understand my methodologies and approaches to making work. These feelings were completely obliterated the moment I met Cando2 and Magpie as their enthusiasm was radiating and I left each day eager to be back for the next. It was astonishing to me that this project was in fact the very first time this group of people had been in the same room together, which continued to impress me throughout the consecutive time spent in the studio. I would never have known that these two groups had never met. They bonded instantly and joined as one company very easily, it was beautiful to see. I will take away so much from this experience, mostly trying to see how in the future I can open up my practices for non disabled and disabled artists. The dancers inspired me and taught me new things about me and my work.
Can you describe a pivotal moment or anecdote from the process?
A pivotal moment for me included recognising that when technical features went wrong, such as with sound and lighting, the dancers were extremely professional, calm and supportive of one another. During our rehearsals the dancers were looking out for one another, guiding each other to positions and helping with entrance and exits. This truly moved me to tears. Seeing these dancer’s bond and create an honest relationship was amazing. I am so proud of everyone.
How will this endeavour impact work you make and your creative process in the future?
Moving forward I will definitely be broadening my outreach and engagement stand to the company to include disabled artists. I have learnt so much during my time with Magpie and Candoco who both made me feel so welcomed, supported and encouraged. This opportunity has been one that words really do struggle to describe. It was a beautiful experience and one that has and will continue to change how I approach work in the future.
Lastly, I must say, to all the artists who guided me through this project, I am eternally grateful for all you have done. Thank you for working with me.