Sunday, 19 June 2016

Into the Dramaturgy:Peter Harding @

Into the Water
Internationally-renowned folk-dance duo Up & Over It present an immersive dance adventure for the whole family. This foot-stomping, hand-tapping show transports audiences from a magical wasteland to a dreamlike world, where anything's possible and friendship's everything. Folk has never been so fun!

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Venue 53) ​ 11:40 Aug 11-21

Peter Harding (Co-choreographer and co-performer) 

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The piece draws inspiration from dance traditions and folklore throughout Europe, finding the commonalities that link our cultures. It is also in response to the ever-changing landscape of today’s Europe through migration and globalization. The piece aims to show children and young people that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or how you got here, we’re all the same. Through friendship, imagination, trust and the melding of our traditions, we can make a new kind of folk that is vibrant and relevant.

We used the stories, symbols and movements we share with other traditions in the show, centring around around a magical tree-like structure (Yggdrasil, Tree of Life, Maypole – represented in the show as an enchanted rotary washing line) The story follows the characters of Líf and Lífprasir (Adam and Eve) the only survivors or the nordic apocalypse (Ragnorak) as they emerge from the roots of tradition, waking up on a seemingly unfamiliar shore.  

How did you go about gathering the team for
Suzanne and I have worked together for 20 years, trying to push the boundaries of folk dance and attract a new audience to the form. We have a long time colobrorator in Welsh video artist Jonny Reed who provided the projections for the show. 

We wanted to work with post-graduates from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama after seeing their recent graduate show. Hirsto Takov provided the lighting design and Eleri Lloyd, set and costumes. 

How did you become interested in making performance?
Our previous shows were more a collection of dance pieces rather than one story and so we always wanted to push ourselves to tell a story from start to finish. As a company we have always been focused on deconstructing folk dance and we started to look at what connects our particular traditions (Irish and Welsh) to the rest of Europe. We wanted to show on stage the catalyst of ritual and tradition, from simple playground games, to complex rhythmical dances. 

The show was commissioned by Coreo Cymru in partnership with Theatr Iolo, who were seeking to support the creation of accessible, high quality dance for young people and their families. Selected through the Development Commissions and originally presented as a work in progress at the Wales Dance Platform 2015, it then previewed as a full-length work at a number of venues in Wales during September 2015.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
In the past we create work in a vacuum using an image or piece of music or costume as inspiration. For this show we did a lot of research into what type of children’s show we wanted to create. We knew we didn’t want it loud and shouty but more subtle and imaginative. We also wanted the choreography for this show to be led by the story and for the choreography to be organic and grow throughout, rather than simply filling music with ‘steps’. We started off with nuggets of ideas, like children’s playground games, or percussion instruments, secret handshakes and grew the story and choreography from that, creating a unique language for these two characters. We wanted the audience to recognise some ‘styles’ but then twist their perception. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
We hope to transport audiences to the world of the two characters, so they experience the trepidation, the wonder, the friendship. Immersive is an overused word but we want the audience to forget they are watching dance and see the movement and choreography as words spoken between the characters. We want to inspire the audience to go out and make their own folk with their friends and family.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
This is the first time we are using ‘experiential projection’ that fills the entire stage - it rains, leaves drop, flowers grow, birds fly - to fully immerse the audience in this world. The music is by electro-folk artists which sounds strange yet familiar. We also have a few neat stage tricks with lighting, smoke and things magically rotating to add to the wonder.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
The show is a traditional children’s show, it’s not a call and answer, panto show. It uses traditional theatrical devices to make people feel safe and comfortable while they experience this new kind of choreography that may otherwise feel strange to them. While the choreography is based on traditional folk, it definitely has a modern feel, hopefully expanding people’s perception of folk dance and how it can be used to tell a story.

Surgeons’ Hall, The Space, 11th – 21st Aug 2016, 11.40am (12.35pm)

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