SPIRIT of unlimited choreographing

Inta Balode

Day five at the Cal-Laboratory Kitchen 2012 was dedicated to SPIRIT. As always artists chose themselves how to interpret this term which has even more of space within than all the other themes dealt before. I will not go into the detail about who did what. Though works were even more interesting than the ones before, still the afternoon’s conversation seemed the most important thing of the last day. It linked to some things discussed during lunch talk on Wednesday and reflected the idea of the Kitchen in general: process vs product as a springboard for later products. Still I would give my guess that the themes which came up in the talk were largely influenced by thinking about the SPIRIT.

The questions were:

1. How to keep the SPIRIT of freedom, loosening of responsibility, taking risks not only in the Lab but also when working at home, in more standard circumstances?

2. Should choreographers think and adjust to their audiences, their supporters, their dancers visions, expectations and SPIRIT (in most cases imagined ones)?

3. How to balance between all the slots artists need to find to get funding and bookings (Baltic-Nordic, South American, Eastern European, ecological, feminist etc.) and at the same time keep their own voices and SPIRIT, creating what they really want to and working with people they want to?

Here are some comments on each of the problematic questions and I think it is always worth thinking about those things. There is no way to avoid and solve them, but being more conscious of the processes going on might be of a help:

1. For most people working in labs and working when “on duty” can never be the same. Those who never feel the difference and don’t suffer from responsibility become superstars. Some because of their talent, some because of being so eccentric that seem to be genius. How to keep the SPIRIT? Through remembering but at the same time knowing that there are not “copy-paste” situations. When it gets to final result responsibility comes, but process can still be wild. Russian theater director Dmitry Krimov when telling about his process said that during most of the time he is incredibly democratic, everybody in room has voice and right to input whatever they want to. But during last couple weeks of the process he becomes incredibly totalitarian to drag all the ends together. Also… The more Cal-Laboratory Kitchens we have, the more space we free in our brains and SPIRITS.

2. We know that there is no such a thing as audience, there are as many audiences as seats in the theaters. Still most artists wish and tend to think about their audience and it is natural to try to please (even if it provoking and challenging) “my audience”. Some kind of mirroring goes on all the time, it can also become as a good excuse: I made it like this because people like to see happy ends; I made it like this because my dancers want to dance not only to stand; I made it about teachers because they always buy more tickets. But, of course, we should please the SPIRIT of the audiences, dancers and others. Please in a way that we try to speak about what happens and what is important no matter what was popular and loved yesterday today it can be something completely else.

3. How to be free in choices and still make living with arts? There is always a choice to dance for squirrels in the forest or for 1000 people audience (this was said by one of the sponsors of the festival I once worked for). And if you want to dance for people, learn how to talk to sponsors, how to believe o politically defined themes, marriages of countries and artists. Back to Soviet times where the smart ones managed to tell what they wanted no matter what the play was about. The more movement based dance is, the less all the needed contexts can influence its contents. And actually most choreographers find fun when they actually start working in the studio and as we saw in the Kitchen – they were happy to work with whoever happen to be in there. Choreographers just pray so they don’t have to write all the grants, all the papers, all of that exhausting to the level when you cannot work normally. Just let the choreographer into the studio, and they will come out with a beautiful dance.