Improvisation Series (2017)

Improvised performances, each about 10 minutes long.

Pianist: Mikaela Livadiotis. Dancer: Yanaëlle Thiran.

Past performances dates and venues:

  • 22/07/2017 at artsdepot, as part of TogetherFest
  • 04/05/2017 at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
  • 05/03/2017 at the Asylum Chapel, Peckham
  • 03/03/2017 at St Alfege Church, Greenwich
  • 02/03/2017 at Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Canary Wharf

Thoughts on our improvisation series:

Mikaela: What did you think about rehearsing?

Yanaëlle: Practicing was essential for me. It felt like a safe space to play, and I would like to insist on the notion of playing. Of course you play music, but it’s pretty unusual to say that as dancers, we play dance. Rehearsing with you made me rediscover that dance can also be a game. I needed this reminder that it can be just for fun.

Rehearsals gave us chances to experiment with possibilities and tools that we could use. I was very excited to borrow from Walter Thompson’s Soundpainting system, but became surprisingly shy when it came to conducting or sending signs to you. Since we wanted to have ‘conversations’ in performances, I felt like we needed rehearsals to develop a shared language, tune in with each other and discuss what we could or would want to do.

It was great to notice that I could ‘influence’ the music. I’m used to following recorded music, to the point that I almost lose a sense of agency in my ability to generate rhythms. When we started giving space for the music to resonate on its own or for the dance to happen in silence, I managed to reconnect with my own breath, and to let movement to grow more organically, which was very satisfying.

M: Was the experience different?

Y: Yes, for sure. In rehearsals, as my focus was on listening and responding, I almost lost track of the spatial dimension of my dancing. I mostly thought of the musicality, rhythms and dynamics of my own movements. So before going onstage, I planned elements of my use of space. Knowing that I would go along the back wall, cross the space from side to side or spend some time near the piano was kind of reassuring. It also helped me plot relationships between us: where could we see each other? Where and when could I turn to the audience?

M: Was it good/bad?

Y: Good! It was exhausting physically, but I also found it very refreshing in a way. I mean, I gave out a lot of energy in each practice session and each performance, and that’s because you gave me loads of ideas, notes and ‘colours’ to play with. I was so immersed in your music that I could dance to it for long, uninterrupted chunks of time.

During these times, I went through all sorts of emotional states. It felt very light and easy for a while – I was happy to ‘just dance’. Then, as I tried to respond to your music honestly and thoroughly, I started questioning how I went about it. Was my dancing good enough? Somehow, our rehearsals took me on a reflective journey around what I do and why I do it. I didn’t mean to think through all that. It just happened as I was dancing.

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