... is the title of the piece that I choreographed on the degree students at the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance in December. It was set in The Masque, a club in LA in the late 70's. It was founded by Brendan Mullen, a Scottish entrepreneur/music lover. My main point of reference was his book entitled The Masque: Nightmare in Punk Alley. Three weeks into my research Brendan died! It felt even more poignant to make this piece. Quite a bizarre happening.
The Masque was where bands like The Cramps, The Germs and The Dickies began. The club doesn't stand out as being a huge figure in the history of punk music but for the people who went there it was a huge part of their lives, even though in reality it was only open for three years. It was this, that I was interested in. How a group of people who dont conform to society could find a place where they were accepted.
It is by far my most daring piece of work I have ever attempted.
When I began the process I didn't set out to make what I made in the end. It was quite scary because heading up there I had images about the set and costume and the music but as far as the actual piece, I only knew how I wanted to begin and a few tasks and about a few characters. It was really scary thing for me to do as I needed to really trust myself, the process and the dancers. I didnt know how it would end up looking. I knew there was going to be a real fine line between it becoming naff and it being real. The only way I knew I could avoid this was by being really true to the characters and to the process.
I didn't mean to create a piece that was wild or 'controversial' or that would offend anyone. The only idea I had was how I wanted to begin devising the piece. It is very much closer to how I want to create work. I dont necessarily want to always make a wild piece but hey I cant help what comes out.
I am really excited because I have wanted to do a really theatrical piece for quite some time, but I had been scared but guess what -It works, Hallelujah!
The feedback I got really only ever said two things. Either 'How the hell did you get them to do that?' or 'What a brave piece'. I think that kind of feedback is pretty cool. I mean I knew I wasn't going to get: "Well done sarah what a beautiful piece?" ha! No way, it was not a beautiful piece. I think it had some beautiful moments but that were few and far between and were actually quite dark. It brought you somewhere, but I amy be a bit biased.
The dancers were playing characters that they had created. They all had individual histories and some of them were quite twisted. There was drug taking, rape, nakedness, foul language and suicide. I know it doesn't sound that extreme in today's society but I feel for a student piece it was quite a big risk to take. I asked a lot of the dancers but that really rose to the challenge and rocked it, literally (we made a live band ha!... with real instruments). I was worried I had pushed it too far but I feel it had to go there. Otherwise there was no point. And everything was within a context. It had a place and the dancers knew why and where and when and how.
I could not have asked for a better bunch of dancers. They were so dedicated and really pushed it to where it needed to be
I feel happy to have finally made a piece in a way that I feel totally happy about. For the first time I felt so naked when it was being performed. I had no regrets because I knew everything was there for a reason. I wasn't there doing something for someone or something in a way that I thought I would like to be perceived. I made a piece how I need to make a piece at this moment in time and what came out was quite wild but that was just the process.
I maybe now know what it is like to be a choreographer! That may sound strange. I cant explain the feeling I had. the whole time I kept thinking maybe this is normal and maybe its how someone like Nigel Charnock feels when he creates pieces that are wild. haha. I am not comparing myself to him at all. I felt vulnerable but yet very strong. I really can't explain it can I? haha. Maybe its also because it is the second year and the third time I have been invited to Scotland so I felt I couldn't hide anymore behind the "I am only a newbie" facade that is so easy to do. But I was beginning to trust myself as an artist.
I feel so lucky to have the support of Peter Royston at The Space. The fact that he gave/gives me that much freedom to create whatever the hell of a kind of piece that I wanted. The trust that he has/had in me is like gold dust. I am so lucky. The ability to be allowed to take risks. Such a blessing. The whole creative team up there at The Space are amazing. for example look at part of my set and the costumes:
The music was also fantastic. Phil Cooney who also designed the lighting created an original soundtrack for me. It was as if he went inside my head and listened to exactly what I wanted and gave it to me on CD. Magic!
It was such an over whleming experience. Dundee and The Space are very dear to me and for me I still call it home. Every time I leave its like another scratch on my heart. Its very hard. I think its also because its a dream situation being a choreographer! I know I want to dance right now but I do really love teaching and choreographing. Plus its also where I began my journey as a dancer. So a very special place to me.
Maybe my next piece will be a full on dancey dance piece! I am up for that but I now know how i want to approach it. That feels cool! I am growing.
Happy new year.