First Steps to Choreography

First Steps to Choreography

Thrust into the midst of going it alone as a company, some brave EncoreEast members wanted to try their hands at choreography. As our first foray into choreography, it proved to be both exciting, challenging and in many ways highly successful. Mary Davies, who knows us all well, was to oversee the process and support us all through it. Each member was randomly given the opportunity to choreograph and/or be a dancer.

This is my journey. So, I play about with choreographic ideas in my head a lot… you know you could do this or that for a dance: movements, concepts, feelings in some ethereal plane. Home was a seed planted in my head some while back. On a hot steamy bus, so bored with the long drive across the Pantanal in Brazil, Gavin and I settled down for another of his technology updates. This time he introduced me to What 3 Words and it blew my mind. GPS of a different kind. I could see people standing up vertically as the globe continues to orbit the sun all connected by the same movement like a worldwide Mexican wave. Not so much later we all got connected once again with the Covid virus. I was stuck at home. Could we create a world-wide dance?

I rushed off to grab my Doris Humphries, The Art of making Dances from my student choreographic past and made copious notes, jotted ideas, devised movement and movement plans which pervading all thinking, all in a rather relentless fashion.

Armed with their own location using What 3 Words the dancers and myself began the creative process. Most of my ideas were thrown aside and I would say we made a dance. For me this was such a freeing process. The ideas grew naturally transformed by the Zoom images as they moved in front of me on that screen. The piece does not feel complete, but it is a start and, in many ways, my initial ideas were never compromised.

This idea was that “Home” had provided us with sanctuary and security during lock downs and that was a global phenomenon. Mostly a person’s home became a constant, provided consistency, security and safety which we all felt, especially very early on during the pandemic. The dance is dedicated to those who do not have homes. I aimed to translate this in a dance. The continual movement was clear to me and somewhat inspired by seeing Russell Maliphant’s “Silent Lines”. It fitted the need for this dance. We need simplicity in this turbulent time. During our rehearsal sessions the emotional commitment from each dancer did feel to me to be something special.

I had not anticipated all the difficulties in creating my own choreography: finding the music, my inability to see spacing in Zoom, choosing music with little melodies and synchronising movement phrasing. Needless to say, a huge learning curve.

My dance was one of four that we have begun. It is fair to say after a 12-week period EncoreEast now have a set of four dances that are at a first stage of development, which may become part of a repertoire, originating from this first ever choreography. All dances are quite different and illustrate the range of creativity we have within the group. That is Turn Around by Sue; Jeanette, Margaret and Pam’s The Hold and Andy’s Who’s Viewing. It was a small beginning for us all and started during lockdown so created on Zoom but, I would suggest a bit of a triumph. So, here’s to all future developments for each project and perhaps others too.

By Lyn Matthews