At the start of July, we were four individual companies. We had each made a dance work with different choreographers and shared them with each other and with the project’s Artistic Director, Protein’s Luca Silvestrini. By the end of just six days, we had become one company of 44 older dancers, and Luca had forged four separate works into a single, coherent piece.
The choreographers had chosen a theme – beginning, middle, ending, or the bits in between, and each company has its own stand-alone piece. Then came the unusual, exciting and scary process of making the whole greater than the sum of its four parts. The companies had worked two together with Luca for a couple of days – EncoreEast with Cadenza and Damn Fine Dance with The Place Dancers. We shared some sequences by video and Luca had talked about us all being on stage all the time – a new concept for many of us! But, coming together on July 18 and 19 in the theatre at DanceEast felt like stepping into the unknown.
As dancers we had to be more than usually patient and generous. Not everything we tried worked. Spacing became more significant with so many dancers. No-one had expected walking one behind the other to be so difficult. We had to let go of some of our treasured moves, change their quality or make room for dancers from other companies to join in. Learning new ways of doing familiar phrases was challenging and frustrating. We had to consider our responsibilities to each other. We had to find intention and confidence when we felt confused and lost.
It was a real treat to have composer Andy Pink with us, compiling the music live, fitting it with the dance and very helpfully counting rhythms that we had all managed to interpret differently. Luca and Andy are true collaborators, and it was an honour to witness them working together. On the second day we were joined by Lizzie Barker and her enormous suitcase of costumes. Lighting designer Connor Farthing experimented with lighting states. By the second run through on the final afternoon, I felt triumphant that we had, what Luca had described as, a ‘draft’ of the piece. We made mistakes, and things will continue to change and be refined, but we made it (almost).
Of course, it was Luca who made it. He had the vision and the detail. He created transitions and a finale that honoured the individual pieces while making something new. His creativity is glorious to experience. I was amazed by how he held all that information in his head and was continually thinking and adjusting. He pushed us to do more, go further and be the best dancers we can be. He did all this with kindness, generosity, and humour. Thank you, Luca.
Home from Home is devised and produced by EncoreEast; supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, co-commissioned by EncoreEast, DanceEast, The Place and Norwich Theatre.
DanceEast, Ipswich – 14th October: https://www.danceeast.co.uk/performances/home-from-home-encoreeast-and-friends/
Norwich Playhouse – October 19th:
The Place, London – 21st October
Photo: Roswitha Chesher