Behind the Scenes | Take A Seat
Take a Seat is a unique opportunity for a specially convened company of South West artists to work with Reckless Sleepers to create a site-sensitive performance. It offers a playful and collaborative opportunity for professional dance artists to develop their practice. Exploring some of the conceptual approaches taken by Reckless Sleepers in creating their distinctive work, the selected artists are drawing on their own choreographic practice to create this original performance.
Dance in Devon put the call out to dance artists across the South West and we had a fantastic response. The five artists selected showed an openness to challenging their own practice in new ways, working outdoors and in close proximity with members of the public, and a willingness to bring their own practice into this new creative relationship. They came together for the first time for a devising weekend in May, working on site with Mole Wetherell (Reckless Sleepers) to co-devise the approach for Take a Seat.
The first question was how to approach making the new work. It had been thought that each performer might bring their existing movement language into the work and that what may be presented would be a series of solos strung together. But in discussion, the artists wanted to work very closely together as an ensemble to create something collective and fresh. Working collaboratively in this way with other dance artists was something they rarely get an opportunity to do as they have their own established and distinctive practices.
Through movement tasks in the studio and experimentation together, they found a common movement language to present. This was taken out into Princess Gardens, which is so different to studio presentation in terms of scale, general hubbub and passers-by going about their day. Ideas were tried out and kept, discarded, interrogated. The general public were perplexed and intrigued to see chairs forming lines and curves, sometimes with bodies just sitting on them, sometimes with bodies in unusual positions. Many passers-by sat on walls and benches watching for quite a long time..
"My husband and I were trying to work out what game they were playing, what rules they were following. We meant to go look at the boats, but thought we would look at the chairs instead ..."
Collaborative process is at the heart of Take a Seat, with all its unknowns, thrills and difficulties. This is a collaboration on many levels - across artists and organisations, through creative exchange and dialogue, devising new work and co-presenting it, and collaboration with audiences and passers by.
"This past weekend I really enjoyed exploring some of the processes that Reckless Sleepers use to create movement. The various methods and opportunities to explore and try things out was a really beneficial thing as I reflect on my own methods. Going along with that I appreciated the openness to explore from everyone involved, every idea was listened to, entertained, and responded to which is so valuable."(collaborating SW artist)
After the weekend, the artists went back to their other worlds with time to reflect and develop material independently - keeping in contact with each other, Mole and Dance in Devon. They will reconvene for a further development period in the run up to the performances on 15 June. Come and see what they have created!
You can find out more about each of the residency artists in this new company here: Jane Mason, Kyra Norman, Kuldip Singh-Barmi, Rosie Race and Salinda Nichols. Take A Seat is co-produced by Eyeview Cultural Programme and Dance in Devon.