Let’s (finally!) talk aboutThe Fall! The Fall is a site-specific work for a cast of 15 dancers that we're presenting at the Toronto Fringe Festival. The rehearsal process for this piece has been long and varied; we have worked with different cast members over three months, with rehearsals in three different spaces. This week I thought I’d give you a little insight into the rehearsal and creation process for this piece.
We started rehearsing for this piece back in May with a handful of cast members at Rapier Wit in Toronto. These preliminary rehearsals were exploratory in nature – we worked with concepts of falling and changing direction both as an individual and as a group, and discussed the different ways each of us fly and fall in our dreams. We worked towards setting the material that would become the beginning of the end section of the piece, and learned material for a duet section.
The bulk of our more recent rehearsals have been at Gotta Dance, a studio up at Jane and Dundas with a huge amount of space and lovely staff (thanks Kent!). At Gotta Dance, the summer apprentice company learned material and generated new material to teach to the rest of the cast. It was fascinating to return to material that was created at Rapier Wit with an entirely different group of people, and to see how the interpretation has evolved and settled into new bodies.
We’ve held a few rehearsals at our performance venue, the gym space at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church. The space is stunning – it has two-story-high ceilings that make me feel I could take off from the ground at any moment, a balcony running around three sides of the room, and beautiful stained glass windows that let in light. The light seems to improvise with us as we dance, as Colleen put it so beautifully. The light is sometimes gentle and diffuse, dispersing through the space, at other times we dance in rich, warm pools of light that cut through the space as the sun starts to set. Red velvet curtains hang under the balconies in the space, and as this is a site specific work and we’re not in a traditional theatre venue, we’ve been playing with these curtains as a way of hiding and revealing parts of the space and people in the space.
The past couple weeks have been intensive, full cast rehearsals at Gotta Dance, and WOW fifteen bodies is a lot! Having the full cast present brought a whole new power and energy to the unison sections, and it has been interesting to see how the movement has been interpreted by each of the cast members. Everyone comes from diverse training backgrounds, which affects the way each cast member physicalizes movement, but also the way they interpret intention and task work. This reminds me that there are many ways of thinking and approaching work that are different from my own, and has made me reflect on the effect my training background and interests have on the way I approach material. Even with something as simple as falling down, there's such a diversity in the way the dancers are physically getting to the floor, based on each person's previous training and the facility in their bodies, as well as different psychological interpretations. When you fall, are you shocked? Afraid? Do you stand up quickly or take time to get your bearings? It's been an exciting experience to learn so much from my fellow cast members during this rehearsal process. In general, the cast of this work is an inspiring group of people, and it’s been exciting to meet and work with these powerful artists (some of whom I’ve admired from afar for a while)!
As I go to publish this post, I can add a final update as we opened the show this past weekend! This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to perform a full-length work eight times, and I'm excited to see how performing this work changes with a live audience, and how it evolves over the course of the run. I’ll keep you posted about this experience in a future blog! Tickets forThe Fall are available on the Fringe website and at the door!
- Clarke Blair