Thursday 13th saw the Avid for Ovid group come together again to share progress on the new stories that we are developing for showing on 28th November as part of the Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers Colloquium on Communicating Verbal Emotion; full information on this to be posted very shortly. Our afternoon session was in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building at St Hilda’s; great to have access to this space with its beautiful resonant Steinway, a big thank you to Helen Slaney for organising this.
Tackling new stories is challenging our abilities to take on different characters and more complex narratives, finding ways to explore clear and seamless shifting between characters not only through altered physicality, but through selection and refinement of movement motifs and demarcation of the geography of the story in the space. Malcolm’s recent prodigious output of musical themes for specific characters brings its own challenges for him in being able to remember and instantly access a wealth of rich material while remaining alert to the potential progression of the dance. Although very much still in exploratory and improvisatory territory both music and dance are beginning to crystallize as we make decisions as to what we can discard as inessential, and get a sense of how long is required to establish character and situation.
We begin with all four of us warming up in our own ways, morphing gradually into individual explorations and practice of movement and musical material. Then a sharing of our sketches of each piece, with mutual feedback and discussion after showing. First Marie-Louise with her moving interpretation of the story of Myrrha; fascinating to see the effects of her working this in the neutral mask. Then Ségolène’s telling of the tale of Arachne raises intriguing questions about the potential depiction of a narrator and who this might be.
Minerva and Envy.
Crispin van de Passe the Elder c.1600
Source: Royal Collection Trust
Stringing together some sections of my Aglauros begins to reveal how this complicated story might be stripped back to essentials. In all cases we are reminded of the significance of seemingly minute details in projecting the narrative and its emotional heart.
Helen contributes a discreet presence and a welcome outside eye, and over tea after clarifies the arrangements for presenting the work. At the end of the session we are all surprised at how much has been achieved today, and how much more effectively we have worked. A coherent working process seems to be emerging; together with an encouraging realisation that we have progressed over the last six months.