2 October 2017
Author: Jackie richards

Culmination of the European Pivot Project or is it the start of a new trend?

Pivot Dance is ending. There will be three double-billed performance evenings from Wed 11 –  Wed 18 Oct. On Thu 19 Oct there will be an evaluation celebration event. See here for details. Choreographers, producers and audiences from Italy, The Netherlands and London have been exploring innovative ways to work together and created six very different dance performances.  

It has been a challenging, enjoyable experience for The Place Audience Club members. Initially, it was rather vague what we were letting ourselves in for, other than something to do with creating dance in new ways and meeting regularly with others who were interested in contemporary dance. We were also aware our Audience Club was part of a European Project and choreographers would be involved.

Throughout the two years, we have learnt new skills, enabling us as individuals to gain more insights and appreciation about dance performance.  This has extended our abilities and confidence; to have more wide-ranging thoughts and feelings about dance performance, ways performances are created and developing our personal preferences.  We acquired tools to critically consider dance and to give constructive feedback to choreographers and dance producers and to share ideas with each other.  We have listened to new choreographers and learned about the development of their creative processes. It was surprising how much research and experimentation they try out. After all, a dancer has their body and inner being to convey their creativity as an artist and this is extended when they dance with others. The choreographer goes further, working with them, often incorporating other media and theory and topics from a variety of sources. One of the issues considered was whether it was necessary to know the intentions of the choreographer prior to experiencing their work.

There have been opportunities to experience and interpret different performances.  Each person had their own preferences and ideas. This indicates choreographers cannot assume they know what their potential audiences think or prefer. Every person brings their past experience, thoughts and feelings with them; as well as any expectations or aspirations they have for seeing the performance. As a member of the Audience Club I had the opportunity to attend performances I would not have even considered going to. I have been surprised how some performances have challenged us as Audience Club members and the different opinions about them.   

If dance is more than the process - dance classes and sessions - and is an art form; then performances require audiences. The extent that producers, choreographers and dancers can create dance works for its own sake and ignore potential audiences is becoming increasingly important. Audiences cannot be taken for granted and need to be attracted to buy tickets and attend. They need to be engaged and interested, and new collaborations working together will benefit all involved.

I cannot wait to see the performances from the three countries and hear from others whether the project has been worthwhile, what has been learned and can be taken forward. It has not been a perfect project because it was a learning process for us all. Perhaps there could have been more opportunities for collaborating with our choreographers and having more contact with the other partners beyond Facebook. However, I have benefitted from being involved. Not only have I made new acquaintances with some very interesting people and we look forward to meeting together, but my appreciation of contemporary dance and multi-media installations involving dance has increased. Personally, sometimes I found it frustrating seeing well-trained talented dancers being limited in the movements they performed and sitting through some performances that were too long. However, I was amazed by some multi-media installation performances. They were inspirational, conveying ideas relevant to the 21st century.

I hope The Pivot Dance project is not the end but will be the culmination of a learning process that will provide new opportunities for sharing and communicating ideas between producers, choreographers and dance artists.  If choreographers and dancers want to perform to audiences then they need to involve them and share their works in progress and use them to create their work. Audience Clubs are a way of setting up opportunities for this to happen.  Audience Clubs can benefit members and dance theatre spaces.  Making meaningful connections benefits all involved and can encourage growing audiences who have insights into dance as an artform. This will stimulate more work for choreographers and dancers.  This must be a positive for cultural life locally, nationally and internationally in the future and I hope the London Audience Club at The Place will continue. 


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