NO RIGHTS, NO WRONGS…CANDOCO’S FIRST RESEARCH WEEK WITH YASMEEN GODDER
Candoco Artist Anne-Gaëlle Thiriot took part in our very first week of research with Yasmeen Godder as she starts the exciting process of creating a brand new piece on the company for 2017. Here she tells us about the experience…
Whether freelancing or working in a company, getting the time to do pure research is never to be taken for granted. So it is a real treat to be able to spend some time exploring with clear tools, yet without thinking of a final result. To me research is a fantastic way to get to know people and meet an artist’s process because everything is possible. We are not trying to make something look good, we are trying to do ‘the real thing’ and set up some good foundations to get to work with each other. I had a brilliant time with the other dancers and getting to know them from within the studio rather in performance or socially.
Yasmeen’s current research relies on doing a lot of improvisation, and revolves around emotions and how we embody them. Sometimes it fits our mental representation of them, sometimes not at all. The intelligence of the body gives them some unexpected forms, and the emotion is a starting point for more actions and relationships to develop between the performers.
On my first day we had to bring in 6 “things” that could trigger 6 different emotions in us: sadness, anger, surprise, fear, disgust, and happiness. I thought I know how I am when I am scared or surprised. But when I started exploring, a lot of new stuff came up.
One thing that interested me was that I could dive into some emotions I didn’t think I felt much in my daily life, such as sadness, and surf a long way on them… Also I discovered that I could find (or struggle to find) some concrete strategies to keep an emotion going, transforming or coming back. For example picturing myself sitting on a rock in front of a windy sea front, skipping, shaking or rolling on the floor brought me endless happy times. Finally I found a lot of fun and pleasure in exploring disgust or anger, emotions that in “real life” I am not at ease with at all! Was that weird? When something disturbed me I found it really helps to find something funny in it.
I found it particularly interesting to have to bring in something that will trigger an emotion in the others. I felt that this exercise was at the core of how we communicate with each other, and realised that when making work for an audience it is fundamental to consider it. It sounds so obvious to write it but in the moment it felt like a great illumination!
Yasmeen considers that our thoughts, ideas and feelings can directly transform into a movement or an action that is meaningful or understandable, but not always. She addresses this grey zone in which we make a creative or a poetic act, keeping going without understanding. There are so many things we can’t understand, but we keep going. Each person sets up tasks and triggers that work for her/him, and then we meet. In the set-up we went forth and back between doing something and writing, or picking physically from a past experience to build up from it. Many layers of research were created, trying to engineer this fluid connection between thinking and acting, through movement.
One last thing that I found great and challenging was the process of re-enacting. As an improviser, I feel familiar with building work in the moment. When we entered these emotional explorations, we constantly tried to be faithful to the present moment. So after a long improvisation we were all a bit spaced out, as in “Hey what just happened? I’ve got no idea”. We saw and lived so many great or terrible moments, but we can’t pick or name them again.
Yasmeen offered a few tools to try to remember physically something that happened, by oneself or through someone else, without thinking too much. How do we remember? And how do we re-construct? Practically, we will fail. We have to make some choices and see what works for us. And each time we go back to it, it feels like it’s not the same thing as before, but we create more connections, more nuances, more complexity. Actually we are sieving our material more and more. It’s like a search for gold. We all know what we’re looking for and feel awesome when we find it, but more than the size of the nugget, how we get there and what we discover on the way is what is really amazing.
This made me very hungry for more! I can’t wait to see what the dancers will create with Yasmeen, and the choices they will make to present to an audience. If I were a little mouse, I’d spend a bit of time hanging out in the studio during the creation process, stealing some golden cheese that will never be shown. But also, I can’t wait to be in the studio myself again to make plenty of new explorations and choices.