The power of numbers

This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot lately…
I mean, like they say here, it’s not rocket science, when you have a large number of dancers things look pretty impressive.
Same as if you have great dancers, crappy choreography can look amazing.
Same as if you do very impressive tricks, crappy choreography will win you prizes! :p (maybe I’m not meant to say this things, oops!).
My point was to speak about choreography with big groups…
And don’t think I’m going to give you only bad examples of this! I started thinking again after seeing MacMillan’s Requiem at ROH the other day, and loving the piece with all the guys, and seeing the powerful effect that the first piece had, with all the dancers on stage. MacMillan was a genius, and way ahead of his time in choreography in my opinion, so that was a very good example of clever use of groups.
Other choreographers have very intelligent use of large groups too, Bausch or Forsythe come to my mind first, but they are certainly not the only ones.
But what I really wanted to say before I started going around as usual is… Are some choreograpers really getting away with anything just by using a large ensemble? Is there anyway for us to see large groups but still look for the detail?
I don’t want to focus on the negative part, we have enough of that, so I’m going to try and find ways to train our eyes to see further than the big picture, the impression of a big number of dancers.
I will try and find works to analyse that give us some kind of insight about the power of numbers. I have a couple in mind already, but do let me know if you have any suggestions!
I’m hoping to have the first analysis ready for tomorrow, so write to you soon!

Casting a dancer…

When choosing dancers for a new piece, what do you use? I mean, the easier answer is you cast according to each dancer’s technique. But let’s think about two dancers with the same movement style. And two characters completely opposite to each other.
And this is a real problem for me right now, so feedback, more than welcome, is needed!
In this case (and probably in general), we have two options to cast the dancers, according to their personality or according to their appearance.
Amazingly in this case, the decisions to which I arrived after considering these two option are also opposite… One dancer has the personality for one character and the look for the other, and same with the second dancer.
What is more important, then? For the dancer to look exactly as the character? Or for her/him to feel more identified with what (s)he has to do?
I believe that personality really comes accross, specially if you don’t really want dancers to “act”. But obviously appearance is the first thing that audience perceives…


The notion of failure

This is a matter that comes to me quite often… When we make a mistake, as choreographers, what are we to do?
Most people would say you need to learn from it, but then there is a whole lot of things at play here…
When do we realise it is a failure? Is it because other people say so? In that case, we don’t really listen to all opinions in the same proportion, do we?
To some people we would listen and learn, but most common practise is to either ignore, or react against. It is dificult to accept a, for example, bad review, but we also need learn to do that with time…

But my point today wasn’t about learning to cope with negative feedback.
My question is, are we, choreographers, really allowed to make mistakes? To try something and fail enormously?
I don’t think so. And yet, I think we should not only be allowed to fail, but encouraged to do so! To take the risk.
You are, at school, but never again (and even at school you usually pay the price, it’s just that this price is much more affordable than the one you pay when you’re professional…).

I am trying to learn to risk and fail, so that I can find my real language. (And I guess I mean to fail by my own standards rather than others’).

And this reminds me of a song by Fito y los Fitipaldis (by the way, they’re playing in London next week).

It says: “Let me be born, because I need to invent myself. To be a fish, I started with the bones”

You’re encouraged to disagree 😉

The essential…

I woke up today with a dilemma… If, as said in The Little Prince, the essential is invisible to the eye (free translation I’m afraid), how are we choreographers to convey anything essential through such a visual (and ephemeral?!) art as dance is?
I guess we just need to try and show the things that are not essential and either be content with that, or hope that the rest will be interpreted or read between the lines (movements, rather).

Or we can show a drawing of a hat and hope someone sees the snake eating the elephant…