ASK Dance Company principal dancer Fauzi Amirudin recounts his experience creating a short work with local dancers at Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Fauzi’s essay was translated from Bahasa.
The International Young Choreographer Project (IYCP) that was organized by the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific (WDAAP) was held on 1-23 July 2017 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This biennial project is a choreographic lab to gather a few international choreographers that are chosen by the WDA organization from their respective countries. Eight choreographers, led by Su-Ling Chou, were chosen for IYCP 2017 that was held in Tsoying Senior High School—Yeajean Choi (South Korea/USA), Hsin-I Huang (Taiwan), Jan Mollmer (Germany), Lin-Yi Chien (Taiwan), Scott Ewen (Australia), Tien-Chiang Ku (Taiwan), Tamaki Mizuno (Japan) and myself.
The first event at the project was an open audition that allowed us to pick our dancers. It was a fascinating experience because the choreographers were given an opportunity to observe dance styles that were unfamiliar to them. There was a total of 42 participants and each choreographer was given 20 minutes to display their own movement styles.
My audition involved a lot of floor work, which is made up of low-level movements close to the floor, and required a lot of energy. After the audition we discussed with the show director about our selections. The discussion took quite a long time because there were overlapping picks, and each dancer was only allowed to work with, at most, two choreographers. I settled on two male and three female dancers.
The details of my work are as follows:
Title: All In
Synopsis: Life is full of choices, each leads you to its own obstacles. Nothing is easy, but no regrets. The choreography has been constructed with images, shapes, design and chance as the primary tools of exploration.
Music: Man with The Movie Camera (The Cinematic Orchestra)
Choreographically, I had toyed with the idea of a solo that was showcased in Dancebox 2017 at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac). I expanded the idea with the concept of low-level floor work, weight, gravity and falling. Rehearsals began with improvisational activities that allowed me to assess the spontaneity of the dancers. The improvisation was related more to the body’s uncomfortableness in moving, creating images, levels, space, and energy. This was then expanded by me giving specific instructions to specific dancers, which were related to the body or its parts. After this, a short compositional process began. I continued with the idea of “fall and drop” with the aim of creating movements that would seem unplanned, and which required strength and clean control of the body. Thus, I taught body control techniques to fall in a safe yet dramatic way.
Most of our time was spent remembering and exploring and attempting choreography with different songs of various mood and feeling. Every weekend, each choreographer’s work-in-progress would be shown to IYCP to indicate the stage of development and to receive feedback.
I adapted movement exploration to the chosen music and gave my attention to each individual’s movement, and their uniqueness and strength in doing so. I also gave tasks that were to be completed by the agreed-upon deadline. The dancers were given space and freedom to alter, set and experiment with the set phrases, so that each dancer was given the opportunity to showcase their creativity and their interactions within a group.
I applied TACTICS, which I had learned from Janis Claxton when I participated in the Southeast Asian Choreolab 2014 at Rimbun Dahan, for the trio and duet sections. It emphasizes the shoulders, elbows, knees, hips and body weight transfer. This process took up a lot of time because it involved physical touch and also dramatic reactions while dancing.
Unfortunately, on week two, one of my dancers injured herself and I therefore decided to not include her in the work. In the following sessions, I paid attention to the execution of movement, posture, gestures, and emotions. Other than that, I also tried to create something that was fresh and new for the dancers but that would still be easy to understand.
Another dancer ended up being injured and this posed a bigger challenge. As a choreographer, I had to quickly find a way to modify the work and analyze the reasons for injury. I concluded that it could be because of the dancers’ fatigue and loss of focus because they were also undergoing long and intense rehearsals with other choreographers.
The process continued with various tasks with the aim to combine my moves with those of the dancers. I wanted to see how far the dancers could understand what I was trying to convey and how far the aesthetics of the movements could be fine-tuned. In the solo segment, I did some exploration to make it smoother and to give attention to the characteristics of the movement, which were meant to manipulate the dancers’ reactions when knocked, pushed or kicked by others. This was done via an action and reaction exercise. At the same time, the lighting designer and technical staff also attended so that they could get a mental picture and design lights that were to be effective for each choreography.
This process was quite challenging and there was uncomfortableness among the dancers because of the extreme movements required of them. Besides, one major obstacle was communication. In general, the Taiwanese dancers were not proficient in English. This was partly overcome via hand gestures. The rehearsal time of only three hours per day did not pose a big problem as I hadn’t employed that many dancers. I am very thankful to be given a chance to participate in this program and to be given the chance to realize my work. I would like to thank MyDance Alliance, ASK Dance Company and the Sime Darby Foundation for making it possible.
Fauzi is a principal dancer at ASK Dance Company (ADC). More
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Featured photo: Yu Ting Chiu in “All In”, Kaohsiung, 21 August 2017. © 劉人豪 Liu Ren Hao