Spring 2015, we are preparing to take Unattaching to Paris to perform in a dance festival in Essonne. Iain can’t do the show – he’s deep in rehearsals with Earthfall for Stories From A Crowded Room – so we’re looking for another dancer. The search takes us to Finland, with a move to Oulu imminent, it seems like a good option to try to find a male dancer based in Finland to learn the duet. We auditioned in Helsinki at the end of February and selected an interesting, affable and capable young dancer.
Fastforward three weeks to the start of our rehearsal period in the snazzy studios at City Dance in Oulu. Bear in mind we have a week to rehearse, a day to shoot new footage – I then have a week to edit the backdrop before two days of rehearsal with the video: time is tight. As soon as we’re done, we have to fly to Paris (via Helsinki, Amsterdam, Birmingham and Cardiff – but that’s another story)
So: Day one. Our new dancer is lost in Oulu. He’s been phoning people and confusing them. He finally turns up four hours late, unapologetic, seemingly in a terrible mood. He can’t work that day, so we cut our losses and finish early and aim for a full day’s rehearsal on Tuesday. In the morning, he seems to be in a better mood, and we start a warm-up. It soon becomes clear that things are not ok; he is very confused and uncooperative, eventually becoming abusive. It is only when he has gone and we are alone in the studio that we realise that he is probably having some kind of psychotic episode – what I think used to be referred to as a nervous breakdown.
For the rest of the day we try to find a replacement dancer, but notice is too short, and everyone is busy, so we phone the organisers in Paris to apologise and explain that we can’t perform the duet as planned. They are brilliantly supportive and get back to us to say we can bring anything that fits in the space, maybe even improvise. So for the rest of the week we plan a new solo piece – partly inspired by our experiences on Monday and Tuesday.
We spend three days on stage in Valve, developing movement, shooting new footage and creating a new soundtrack. In the end, we have recycled a portion of the movement and sound from Unattaching, but it is a very different piece which we take to Paris.
Our experience in Paris was really good; we met some great people and saw a range of fascinating work. Massive thanks to Elise & Raphael for being so supportive. And respect to Patrice (Un Homme Formidable)
here’s some photos from the new work (
we haven’t quite decided on a title yet) My Skin is a Thin Boundary