Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Jack Webb

Jack Webb has been knocking around the Scottish dance scene for a while - he was part of Dance Base's Fringe season in 2011, and has been seen strutting his stuff at The Arches as a soloist and all around the nation in Do You Nomi? and David Hughes Dance's The Chinaski Sessions. However, like the rock'n'roll stars that have inspired his choreography for GlitterGrid, Webb is hitting the road hard for spring. 

"I'm doing it because I think it's important to make and show," he says.  "I've been a huge amount of research in the past two years and then it comes to a point when you actually have to do it and stop thinking and talking about it, so I am. This isn't the first time I'm travelling about doing lots of shows like this but it is the first time I'm calling it a 'tour'. It's very exciting."

"I love touring and I love showing my work, I think it's very important to be present in on the scene because without touring and performance then work ceases to exist," he continues. Recently, touring has included time in some of the more intriguing new choreographies of the past year: Do You Nomi? was something of a performance supergroup, bringing together rising stars from live art, performance poetry and The Arches Christmas show. But this tour sees him take the stage alone.

"Being in a company is a great comfort to most people because you're surrounded by people that support you and who you support, you share all the good and the bad and it's a wonderful thing," Webb admits. "So going on this tour is slightly daunting, because it's mostly just me, my ideas and me supporting me, except for one of the new pieces which is a duet, so I won't always be alone. Working independently on your own work can be punishing and very lonely, it's something that is very rewarding and isolating all at the same time."

The dates feature various combinations of Webb's work, and include workshop antics and community projects, but the core triple bill is made up of a solo, a film and a duet. GlitterGrid studies the transformation of identity, but has a very faniliar influence. "With GlitterGrid I'm more influenced by some of his movement language and particularly David Bowie's ability to transform physically, performatively and his sense of style," Webb says. "Many of his ideas about collecting and taking on the guises of others influence this work greatly. I share desire for transformation, just like he did."

The film, Katy-Ann is a new venture for Webb. "In Dundee last year, I was commissioned to make a piece on the final year students and Katy-Ann was one of them. She's a compelling performer. The film started as a side project, just by myself: I wasn't taking it seriously," he remembers. This vague interest, however, developed into something more and - given Webb's vigorous performance style, a film makes for a good break for him to recover between the two live dances.  "I was looking through a book that said something about making side projects in to something, so I did. It was initially supposed to feature other people but I filmed Katy-Ann and realised she was more than enough. It's a simple film and a bit of an experiment."

The third piece, FLESHnote is a duet performed by Webb and a female dancers (either Jessica Todd or Madira Gregurek). For someone who has made plenty of solo pieces, it is an intriguing new direction, although Webb doesn't see it as such. "I need someone to relate to on the stage:  I love doing solo work but it's isolating and tough. 

"Jessica and Madira, who are sharing the part, are friends of mine and people who I can trust to be left with the ideas I give to them and make something with it that will fit with my work and practice. It's taken a while because I haven't met anyone who I would want to or indeed trust. But they are both incredibly compelling and just as horrifying as myself."

As Webb showed in Do You Nomi? he can be a little saucy as well as horrifying, but his choreography does play with the boundaries of elegance and ugliness. The polish of his training is increasingly connected to his expansive ideas and willingness to challenge conventional movement. Or, as he explains it, more succintly: "Mental. But life affirming."

Performance and workshops at the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance. SSCD students only.



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