Dynamic Dialogues

This last week I found myself in a creative process again and I was thrilled and obsessed.

We were 3 girls, one choreographer and two dancers. The theme was collaboration, so we worked more as a collective: using our different inputs and strengths to work towards a common goal.

I love working on this theme. There is an utopian idea of collectives forming equality between members and the use of democratic choice-making. Something we quickly find out is that this approach is slow in getting things accomplished. Questions like “I have a suggestion, what do we think?” and “Is this ok for you?” impede the flow of creation.

What we lose with these questions is fast decision-making which is sometimes exactly what a creative process needs, especially in time sensitive processes (and being honest, which project doesn’t have a deadline to meet?).

A better way to approach collective work is to establish everyone’s roles and goals; who is the project leader? who has to make fast decisions? How much autonomy does each person have?  What’s the balance of individual vs group? How clear is the common goal? What are the unknowns?

I’m not out to explicitly answer all these questions in one go; they are usually discovered over time. A collective is a dynamic dialogue between members. And I find this relationships so interesting and fulfilling to investigate!


Functional Movement

Now that I’m a ‘freelance’ dancer one could say, it’s up to me to take my own classes each week and find the best system for myself.

There is a great initiative going on in Rotterdam for professional dancers called “Circle“. It is based on the premise that the community holds enough knowledge that they can teach each other. So one week, I offer my class, the next week you offer class. That’s the circle!

This week I took class from Chris de Feyter. His class had elements of floorwork and improvisation, exactly up my alley! He introduced his class by saying that every movement we do is functional. I greatly appreciate this approach to movement compared to movement for movement’s sake.

I loved the way he got os moving around the space, using the floor, using direction, and connecting with the other dancers in class. It felt like we were on our way to a nice movement phrase and connection that could be used on stage.

Hopefully next week’s teacher will be as inspiring!

Universal Spiraling

On Halloween I was transported into a beautifully visual soundscape.

Rosas & Ictus

The performance was Rosas and Ictus’ Vortex Temporum. I went in relatively naive to what I was about to witness. I knew these European performance artists, Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and French composer Gérard Grisey, were experimental and intuitive makers, but I could have never imagined the swirl of energy they masterfully created on stage.

I found out later that the movement came from the music score, as though the notes and the dancing were one in the same. De Keersmaeker has a unique and fruitful way of making choreographies based of scores and improvisation. I will continue to read about her process because I think it’s something useful for me.

Moving Piano

Moving me in a Cascading Motion

I wouldn’t be able to accurately explain the piece bit by bit (just go see it yourself if you have an opportunity) but I can tell you that I was taking away into the Vortex. The gradual and fluctuating spinning on stage brought a hypnotic calmness to me. I was watching and hearing individual parts of the whole as they harmoniously created the expansive universe inside the theater.

An article in The Guardian helps to shed some more light in the structure of the piece.

Those Socks!

And lastly, I just have one burning question: What about those oh so small, subtle color accents?!? The pink socks, the blue pockets, the green belt, all obviously deliberate choices, but never referenced or explained throughout the piece. What is their connection the universal? (what a little trick you played, Rosas)

It Takes Time To Move into the Big Bad City

I’ve been unofficially living in Rotterdam for four months, but I’ve been in and out so many times during that period, it’s only the last four weeks I’ve really felt like I’m living here. And theres so much to get in order, I have a hard time being engaged in what I actually sent out to do here: become a freelance dancer/choreographer.


I’ve been putting myself in situations which force me to once again focus on creativity.

  • Going to watch performances with other makers has proven fundamental to inspire me.
  • Meeting with colleagues to hear about their recent endeavors and reflect with them about my ideas and struggles
  • Making appointments with potential mentors of mine who have studio space, time and guidance.

In the last week, I felt a turn around. Things are coming together creatively now.

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There was a certain slowness or laziness I was feeling in my thoughts; I wasn’t engaged actively and critically in my work. Now, I again find it IMPORTANT to engage my mind, like a NECESSITY. This is one of the keys to artistic work: a complete dedication to the work as the world does not turn otherwise.

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What is Emio Greco’s Obession with Classical Prima Donnas?

An experience of last week’s De Soprano’s from an Italian choreographer 

This show was a grand spectacle on a classical level. This was a collaboration of the Opera Zuid and ICK Amsterdam as part of Emio’s evident fixation with opera’s heroines.

The Show Must Go On:

A single man begins in nothing but a black turtle shell and clear, platform heels with a full set up for a 8-piece orchestra, percussion, a ‘glass harp’ and platforms surrounding the stage.

This single man states the names of feminists from throughout history in his masked voice. Slowing the rest of the cast join on stage: 6 dancers, 3 singers, the conductor, and 8 musicians. Their faces were covered in chain mail as they stood facing the audience in what seemed like some sort of protest or stance.

The rest of the show goes on as a conversation between dancers, opera singers, and music, between the classical and the modern. Mostly the music and dancers blended seamlessly in harmony. The transition moments were bombarded with digital technics, guitar solos, and video projections interrupting the classical opera scene.

And as with his last piece, Verdi, the women dancers and singers wore their heels high and proud, dressed in draping, translucent slips, and rock&rolled the stage with strong feminist power.


So What Happened to Opera?

Despite the spectacle, the variety, and interaction, I was bored. Perhaps I miss the knowledge of classical Verdi opera’s so I can not bring in the story to what I was seeing. And even so I feel that these dance pieces, with such action and variety, should be a story in themselves. I didn’t understand the interlacing of the video projections or the moments of self-critique happening simultaneous to the performance.

So instead I focused on little things; the dancer’s movements, and way the singers interacted with the stage, how the conductor works together with the dancers. The dancing was beautiful. The six danced in harmony, and nearly unison but given the freedom to add their own voice to the movement. They are stunning dancers, naturally and this I enjoyed. And I got a little lost in their flow. The beauty wasn’t quite enough to keep me engaged in the piece as a whole.

Greco naturally must have a deep interest in Verdi’s operas. It’s running through the core of the piece. For me, not having the history and knowledge of Italian Arias and story lines, I was missing out on the very foundation of what I was watching.


This idea in my head is to unleash the colors within the white light.

Open the universe to uncover the details inherent in the material, in reality.

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Improvisation: Not spontaneous?

What are we really saying when we say in the moment or be present?

And what exactly is improvisation? The term as become so widely spread, it no longer describes one idea, mind-set, or working method. Gaga, Open-form Composition, Spontaneous Composition, Forsythe, Contact Improvisation…  I can not simply “improvise” for you. (Which is what my 11-year-old niece requested when I had to explain to her I don’t have any dance ‘routines’ but I mostly improvise. My response was “Let’s do it together, it’s more fun that way!”). I too was being vague in this context, unable to give a clear picture to a young, inspiring dancer about what kind of field she was up against.

Let’s start to be critical about what we are asking from ourselves when we Improvise. What are we really doing here?

There’s some sort of phenomenon in which we expect ourselves as dancers to be able to differentiate between acting according to a (inner) sensation that is happening right now and the knowledge that we have gained from the past, (which actually enables us to make decisions and predict the future). Thusly, we can not separate ourselves from our knowledge.

What is Improvisation?

What if we approached it this way:

We are knowledgeable about what we are doing. We are putting ourselves into situations of pressure, or the unknown, or collaborative communities and forcing a response to that instance. We are risking.

We are not trying to think out of the box, always creating something new, better, innovative, different than before. We are looking at “what’s inside the box?”

The questions I have now:

Where is the revolution of improvisation beyond being ‘innovative’? Where are the risks in the arts that actually matter?

(Thanks to Joào de Silva for his lecture today on Improvisation and Risk-Taking. Many of the ideas here come from him. Best of luck on your Phd)