Interact

5 July 2017
Author: Lauren Potter

Lauren Potter discusses the inspiration behind her commission for London Contemporary Dance School’s Graduation Performances

Lauren has been commissioned by London Contemporary Dance School to create a work for this year’s graduating students. Inspired by Rosemary Butcher’s Still Slow Divided her blog post provides an insight into how she worked with the students to create the new work.

I first met Rosemary when she was invited to teach some workshops at London Contemporary Dance Theatre. This was just before I left the Company, so it then became a brilliant opportunity to work more closely with her. I instinctively loved her classes and working methods, and it was wonderful to then be part of her research process for the ds

(d1, d2. 3D) that began around 1989. Her work was always challenging on many levels – she continually strived to source new forms and ways of making, collaborating with visual artists, architects, filmmakers and musicians and what was so interesting from my perspective as a performer was her particular way of seeing and processing - very much as a visual artist herself.

Her work was often performed in galleries and non- theatrical spaces – long before this became the alternative way of doing things - and this provided a visionary perspective for her art. I always felt incredibly empowered within her rehearsal periods, she made you feel very much part of the making process and because all the material was sourced through improvisatory methods and a real engagement with questioning and deconstruction you couldn’t fail to inhabit the work with a truly personal identity.

I also loved the sense of confusion and bewilderment I often felt when working with Rosemary – you knew there was a real artistic vision at work, and I would often find myself grappling and struggling with the concepts and ideas being proposed – yet knowing that I simply had to source my own meaning and journey and all would be well!

It was actually a suggestion of David Steele’s (who was then Vice Principal at London Contemporary Dance School) to pay tribute to Rosemary’s work by sharing a process of one of her pieces with students.  Still slow divided (2002) was proposed as a work that both David and myself had been involved with and felt close to. It seemed like a relevant work, as it was very much part of a series of pieces that involved high physicality and quite a particular area of research. We used ideas connected to paragliding and rock climbing as source material, and this was something I wanted students involved in the re-invention to similarly experience. So we made a trip to the climbing wall at Mile End and traversed, abseiled and bouldered our way round the course much as the original dancers had done back in 2001. This then had a strong effect on the movement material that the students were able to explore and develop, alongside the play with ideas of verticality and horizontal planes.

We are using an edited version of the original sound composed by Cathy Lane and trying to re-invent the original lighting concept by Anthony Bowne. All the movement material is the dancer’s own and whilst structurally there are many similarities with the original – it does feel like quite a different piece that has now surfaced. The original had only four dancers and lasted for 25 minutes whereas this re-invention has 11 dancers and is only 15 minutes long.

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