Focus on artists: Ben Duke
We began the creation of Home for Broken Turns at Station Zuid in Tilburg. We had two weeks in their fantastic studio. It was a new group of dancers so it was a time to meet and explore ideas. To begin a process in a residency situation like this is, I find, invaluable. The process of getting to know each other is accelerated when you are removed from your usual environment and living together in a bungalow in the Dutch woods. I had an idea about a group of women waiting for a friend/fellow/outcast to return but those two weeks in Tilburg made it clear to me that this was a piece about a family and the dynamics of that family formed in the Station Zuid studio.
Our second modul-dance residency was more familiar to us. We spent a week at the Place Theatre in London. It was a privilege to have so much time in a theatre space and to work with the technical elements of the show.
We then spent some time rehearsing the show in the English countryside before beginning our tour with a premier back where we started in Tilburg. That was a hard day for me as there was a sense of a circle but I hadn’t finished my journey with the piece and found it hard to share with such a high profile crowd. I became very aware on that evening of being part of a marketplace – I had a product and here was a room full of people who could buy it if they liked it, but because I didn’t feel the product was ready to go on sale yet it was not a comfortable feeling. Like a greengrocer selling unripe bananas – I couldn’t do it with conviction but I knew that given more time what I had would be amazing.
Being a modul-dance artist showed me that there is a bit of a problem in the dance world, not just in the dance world. We left Station Zuid and found out a few weeks later it was going to be closed due to funding cuts. We performed to a fine audience at Mercat de les Flors but the artists we spoke to there were very worried about the situation in Spain and there is a similar anxiety in the UK. It feels like the aim of modul-dance is an excellent one as it offered an opportunity to meet with the dancehouses to discuss work to feel like there was an interest in each other as people and it seemed to me that in this particular economic climate artists and dance houses need to work even more closely together to generate the best work we possibly can and ensure there is an audience for that work. The reality for me was not quite as coherent as that and I wish I had found a way to make the opportunity of being a modul-dance artist work better for me. In effect I just wanted more! More residencies, more time, more cities, more chance to meet other modul-dance artists, more artistic support, more audiences… But I learnt a great deal and hope that my connections made through modul-dance will continue for many years and I am sure the benefit of being a modul-dance artist will be felt by me for a long time. I sound a bit like I’m saying goodbye and I’m not quite sure if I am. Am I allowed to hang around at the modul-dance party for a bit longer, and try and improve my dance house chatting up skills?
So in conclusion – it’s been good but it could’ve been better. No blame. Things I have learnt: people called Elen or Elena are brilliantly helpful and wonderful company; and Keren – maybe it is the ‘en’ together – although there were also some wonderful people who didn’t have any of those names; working with 5 women is not something to be undertaken likely and, probably like working with 5 men, should have some kind of guide book; the dance world is small and vibrant; and half a cookie from the smoke filled Tilburg Coffee house is definitely enough.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 05, 2013