I have spent the last two weeks in Copenhagen, working with Ellen Kilsgaard on a duet performance we are going to present next week at the Connections Festival in Aarhus, Denmark. The work is called ‘DUET a Duet’ and we showed a first version of it at the Gravity&Grace festival in Limerick in November 2010.
Ellen and I had four working sessions in July 2010 and one more before the G&G performance, and while we thought we knew what we wanted to achieve and had worked out various strategies to do so, we realized that the encounter with the audience at the festival heavily impacted on the outcome of the work. Eventually we felt we only approximated what we had planned to do.
In this duet we aim to have an honest conversation with each other while exposing to the audience, in words and dance, our thinking process as the dance develops. The lack of ‘field testing’ had limited our understanding of the task at hand. For this reason we have had several people coming to witness our practice during this working period in Copenhagen. The presence of a test audience allowed us to pinpoint the issues arising when trying to maintain an open and honest relation with the viewer, and an interesting one to witness too. At times we noticed an excess of performative attitude, the conversation becoming somehow drier and even the physicality tightening up. For instance, we realized that descriptive comments, simply describing an event just happened (I crossed the space diagonally), would come out as redundant, as the audience would be perfectly able to notice that themselves, and obsolete, as the comment would arrive with a considerable delay, when the action had most likely moved on to a different stage.
Bush Hartshorn, old acquaintance the Daghdha times, came to see our rehearsal on Wednesday and suggested we would do a try-out with a non-selected audience in a more public space, such as the foyer of Dansescenen, of which he is currently the director. The gathered audience, made mainly of employers of the theatre and the Dansens Hus, seemed to genuinely enjoy the 20-minute performance, and found the piece refreshing and intelligently entertaining. A woman sitting next to Bush, somebody working in the theatre office, started saying to him “but they can’t do that, they can’t do that…” to our commenting on our own dancing, until she came to the conclusion “but off course they can! and it’s great!”.
‘DUET a Duet’ will be performed in our ‘Triple Bill’, as part of the Connections Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, on April 6th and 9th.