UPDATE

A lot has been going on in the world of Here We Are Dance recently….

Following her wedding, Artistic Director Becca Thomas has changed her name to Rebecca Randall. Change is the only certainty….

Also keep your eyes peeled for details of what we’ll be up to this summer. Exciting times ahead!

Here We Are Short Film!

Becca forward colourHere it is. The short film created by the fantastic Chris Keenan from Prime Objective. Chris joined is in the studio for a few days during our Research and Development, and also came along to our performances at Dance Insights and at Stanhope Community Centre and Wellbeing Hub. Clink the link to go to Vimeo. Hope you enjoy watching!

Here We Are Short Film

Above Image: Dani Bower Photography

Why Improvisation?

 

As a dancer, my first love was ballet. And my favourite part of the ballet class? Sometimes, the pianist would play a piece of music and we were allowed to skip and dance and run about. Basically, we could anything we liked. Later, as a teenager I was a member of Birmingham Youth Dance Company. Here, the teacher would lead us through guided improvisations. That was when I got hooked to dance. Of course I didn’t know it then, but that feeling of letting go, of presence, of creativity and of freedom, was going to stay with me for a long time.

INTRODUCING11

There have been a number of people who have influenced me as an improviser. To name a few, during my training at LSC and later at LCDS I studied with Fuschia Peters, Fin Walker, Jovair Longo and Sue MacLennan. I have attended professional development opportunities with Katye Coe, Polly Hudson, Helen Poyner, Kerstin WellhoferLiz Agiss, Wendy Houstoun, Vangelis Legakis, Roberta Mosca and Pipaluk Supernova. I performed in REMAKE by Florence Peakeat Vivid Projects,  and was also lucky enough to perform in Pandemonium (Ludus Dance UK Tour, 2011), choreographed by Nigel Charnock.

I struggle quite a lot with self doubt (who doesn’t!) and find it can really get in the way when I’m given too much time to think. But when I am improvising I find moments where I can trust more readily. I find myself communicating and connecting in a different way. I don’t block or question my choices, and I get close to experiencing ‘flow’.

I love how improvisation is immediately a risk. Strangely, because there is obviously so much risk of failure, I stop worrying. The parameters for success are different. So, then I free myself and am less likely to ‘fail’. I am more able to listen to and follow my instincts.

I also absolutely love the non – verbal communication which occurs between dancers during improvisation. This is why I chose to dance with Dario Longombardo in this project. He works with sensitivity and awareness. He is passionate about authenticity and is a great listener, both aurally and physically. He asks questions that enable him to understand my approach, and generously offers his own dance and life experience to the process. We have spent extended periods dancing together in silence, beginning to build communication and learning how to understand each other without words. I’d say we communicate ‘energetically’ ….but that might make you stop reading….but it’s true!

The improvised element also allows us to be truly responsive to our audience each time we perform. Somehow the fact that the dance is improvised brings us closer together. The audience are invited to invest and almost participate more in the performance. We are in this together!

In this R and D project improvisation is particularly relevant because the central theme of Here We Are is ‘change’.  I’m finding it hard to keep up with the rate of change around us at the moment. Improvisation as a technique provides some useful coping strategies!

We have been using improvised dance to explore Playback Theatre during this R and D, but that needs a whole blog post of it’s own. Watch this space….

Special thanks to Polly Hudson for bringing her extensive experience of improvisation in to this process, by teaching our company class and offering creative tasks for us to explore.

The Story So Far

Here We Are is a dance/theatre piece which has been growing slowly over the past couple of years. The idea was first seeded when I met Vangelis Legakis in Tenerife in August 2015. I was attending a workshop he was running, which involved some pretty exciting dancing at the foot of a volcano.

Van then invited me to join him for a residency – HKICAROS – the first International Choreography Festival held in Hong Kong. During this time, Here We Are developed in to a twenty minute solo, involving improvised dance and audience interaction. The work was performed at Sheung Wan Civic Centre in April 2016.

Becca Thomas Image

In November 2016, I then performed a version of the solo at Introducing…. Birmingham Dance Network‘s night for new dance. And then, earlier this year, I applied to DanceXchange  for a bursary – The dx Choreography Award – to develop new work. My application was successful, and I realised that this was an opportunity I wanted to grab with both hands. I decided to apply to Arts Council England for a grant. This application was also successful and so now Here We Are has entered an intensive Research and Development phase. Thanks to the support of DanceXchange and Arts Council England, I have been able to bring together a fantastic team of people to join me in this exploration. More about each of them later! Together, will be focussing on the theme of CHANGE.

I will be talking about my process and presenting an extract at the upcoming Dance Insights event at The Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome. Tickets are free but if you are coming, you need to register here.

The long term plan is to develop Here We Are for touring in community centres. My time as a dancer with Ludus Dance ignited in me a passion for taking performances to non-theatre settings, and I am excited to be able to continue to explore this way of working.

This page is a place where I will share my learning through this process. I hope you enjoy reading and look forward to meeting you somewhere along this journey!

Becca