Movement is at the heart of choreography – but how is it generated and how does it become choreography? Shobana and six company dancers talk about what happens inside the dance studio.
In previous episodes of our Surface Tension podcast, we’ve looked at choreography from a range of different viewpoints: the themes of science and science fiction, the considerations required for site-specific works, and the creative inputs of writers, musicians, film-makers and designers – as well as virologists and clergymen!
But there’s one vital group of people we haven’t spoken to in detail: the dancers themselves. So in this episode, we open a window onto the rehearsal studio as Guardian dance writer Sanjoy Roy finds out about the interactions between dancers and choreographer, and between dance and choreography.
Shobana Jeyasingh puts the moment in context: when she first meets the dancers in the studio, much “choreographic” work has already been begun outside it – research undertaken, ideas and themes sketched out, collaborators commissioned.
Listen to Shobana and six experienced dancers – José Agudo, Carmine de Amicis, Avatâra Ayuso, Catarina Carvalho, Estela Merlos and Sooraj Subramaniam – talking about what happens inside the studio.
We find out about the dancers’ very varied technical training – ballroom, jazz, folk and flamenco as well as ballet, contemporary and bharatanatyam – and about how they work together so that their many different voices contribute to the same artistic conversation.
The dancers talk about the depth of research and the scope of their contribution, both physically and mentally, and what it’s like to be part of a picture on the inside while Shobana has the view from the outside.
Shobana talks about creating frames for tasks, why it’s ok to lose rungs from the ladder, and why she feels like a film director. And have you ever wondered what the difference is between dance and choreography? She pinpoints one crucial distinction between a dance sequence and a choreographic phrase.
Of course, what goes into the studio eventually comes out of it. How does it feel for the dancers and for the choreographer when their closed creation finally becomes a public performance?