Archives for posts with tag: Bettina Strickler

dance-3

From the flooded toilet floor of the Dome’s dressing rooms up to the stage area, it’s a long, cold way. Especially barefoot. Hazardous too: the steps have a metal edge. Cameraman and soundman stand impassively amongst the women changing their costumes, filming interviews. After the last two days of rehearsal, ThreeScore Dance Company are about to go on. Nerves ripple down the lines of us waiting for the doors to open, and for us to file through, finally, to an audience.

We’ve performed Bettina Strickler’s piece before, but in less than ideal conditions. Now, it’s properly lit, in classic ‘black-box’ theatre, and we’ve all come a long way in the conviction (and maybe grace?) of our movements. The group (twenty of us) are intertwined on the stage, ‘breathing’ to the Morricone score, then breaking into the fast klezmer: I and three other men finally co-ordinate our strange feints, and with a ‘Hey!’ – slap back-to-back, sink down, and are pulled off. (You had to be there, really).

Antonia Grove’s piece is complex: four of us play live music at the beginning, building to a crescendo, after bedding down plants in the bank of earth at stage front. Then the company stands in front of our triangular-back chairs, before the strange repetitive sequence begins, in total silence. We stand, then the music starts: ‘Treasures’ by Seasick Steve, and we perform the rituals of caring and tending, waiting for growth: it’s about ‘the emotional relationship that forms with something alive and rooted to the earth.’ Labour and Wait.

Ben Duke’s piece, You Can’t Miss Me, evokes the classic footage of the flood of commuters across London Bridge, leaving one man isolated in the middle: ‘Well – how did I get here?’ His is one story among many – he’s joined (but not joined) by others, also questioning their positions. We attempt to make contact, but ultimately, we’re on our own. We move, slowly, around the stage, surrounded by the richness of Glenn Gould playing Bach, and for me it’s a truly beautiful, euphoric moment. This is the culmination of a year’s work in a parallel life, a life I’d never imagined. Dance.

My left elbow in Barbara’s palm, her leg in my right hand, we crash to the floor. Uninjured, we (fortunately) haven’t taken any of the others down with us. It’s a tricky manoeuvre: you offer your partner a hand, s/he places it on her/his (new pronouns please!) body somewhere, apply or withdraw pressure, they offer their hand etc etc. It’s fun, a bit like Twister, and there’s this interesting moment where you don’t know where your hand is going to end up. Or where you are (going to end up, that is).

Three choreographers, one after another, are here in the Methodist chapel hall (sprung floor!) to work us through improvisatory routines. Each has an hour, separated only by a water break, and admittedly, lunch in the nearby café. Rachel had us lying down, feeling and visualising the shapes we made with our bodies’ contact points on the floor; Laila had us working through the hand-place-pressure sequences, and stringing several together (before crashing to the floor, preferably); Toni made us give each other ‘screen-tests’: directing the auditionee/victim to act out a role. This is all so exhilarating, using your body, improvising with it, inhibitions falling away (as does your resistance to the dreamy gurgling music) and awareness becoming sharper.

The Company finally gets to rehearse our dance piece in the venue where we’re to perform it: the Foyer Bar area of the Dome complex. It’s (of course) smaller than all the spaces we’ve rehearsed in, and (of course) it’s got a rather hard Regency/Art Deco pillar in the middle of it. Which we have to avoid. And somehow we do, winding into an ever-tighter spiral around it like a totem pole, before breaking out and into the final image. Finally, we know what it feels like. We run through it several times. The piece, not the pillar.

(Three Score Dance Company performs the new contemporary dance piece, Twice Upon A Time, choreographed by Bettina Strickler, on Sunday 15 July, Brighton Dome Foyer Bar, 5pm)

http://www.brightondome.org/threescoredance.aspx