Monday, 10 August 2015

Coded Dramaturgy: Tamsin Fitzgerald @ Edfringe 2015

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?

Tamsin Fitzgerald: Dreaming in Code is a double bill, so there are 2 pieces. It was the company itself that inspired the first piece by choreographer Eddie Kay for Frantic Assembly.  As an all male company (in terms of its dancers) Eddie wondered what it would be like if the world had no women in it.  

So milk night explores a group of men who meet up once a year to remember a world with and without women in it.  Its a pretty revealing piece of work.  I think its fascinating.  

Lucid Grounds a piece that I created was inspired by many different things.  I had an idea to explore the state between dreaming and reality.  This was a very loose starting point…I then want on to work on the visuals with Artist Luke Evans, Lighting Designer James Mackenzie and Costume Designers Garance Marneur and Susan Kulkarni….Then came the movement.

Can you tell me a little about the company and how this work fits into their programme?
2Faced Dance was born out of a youth dance programme that i set up in Hereford just over 16 years ago.  I started running break-dance classes for boys in Hereford. These became so popular that i decided to set up a youth group.  I then bought that youth group to the Fringe Festival in 2004 and haven’t looked back since.  

The company has changed and developed a lot since 2004.  We are now regularly funded by ACE and the dancers are full time, professional artists. We create a range of small, mid and large scale work.  Our audiences are key to what we create so this can be far reaching from our latest outdoor work KAPOW, aimed at families and based on superheros to The POD a large scale dance and club culture work due to premier in 2017. We have also recently launched a talent development programme that aims to tackle serious concerns regarding the lack of dance work created by women in the UK. 

Dreaming in Code is part of our mid-scale touring work. We made a conscious decision to expand our repertoire by venturing into the world of physical theatre as we felt that we have one of the strongest company’s we have ever had and that this work would demonstrate the versatility of what we do…I hate it when people try and label us as one thing.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
The audience can expect two pieces that are contrasting in both their style and design. We have also made a short film that sits between the two works and this will again add a new dimension to the production.  If you have ever seen work by Frantic Assembly then expect the Frantic style with a twist in milk night and gritty, athletic but technically challenging dance in Lucid Grounds.  Oh and there is some most awesome lighting and set design too.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
I have only ever worked with an official Dramaturg once before and to be honest I have not found it to be that useful, I think that whenever i create i always have a person, who asks questions, challenges the process, gives feedback..  Researching your work is important, wether that be talking to people, reading books, checking facts or writing down your ideas. Choreographers do more than just create the steps…we write stories with bodies and we constantly ask ourselves questions.

What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work -  have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
My main ‘dance' influence has been work created by Australian Dance Theatre.  I love work that challenges the physical, that pushes the boundaries of what is possible with our bodies. I think my work is influenced by my surroundings, the rural isolation, the people i work with, society, my experience of life…there are so many influences its hard to pin it down.

Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
Collaboration is key to my work, whether its through the dancers, musicians, designers or venues. I think performers should have a sense of ownership over something, particularly if they are performing it for years and years. I work with an initial idea, normally non-narrative in my approach.  

The music is key and I normally use that as the starting point.  I break it down and listen to its journey and then connect up all the dots. I sometimes use different devising tools and then sometimes just teach a phrase.  It depends on the commission or the group of artists I am working with.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? 
The audience should not be ignored by artists, but as an artist you should not be persuaded to change something just because someone says they don’t like it.  As an Artistic Director not a choreographer I have to think about audiences in terms of ticket sales and touring but as a choreographer I just want to get my voice heard and seen. We do have open rehearsals from time to time and invite a range of people into see the work but adults are not often that honest.  If you really want to know what people think…ask children in to see the work….its rather sobering!!

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