Written by Alice Cavanagh May 13, 2022
As I’m typing this on my little laptop, there is a Robin singing outside my back door and my cat is sleeping on the couch. The sun is finally feeling warm on my skin and I know that summer is just around the corner. This means its almost time for the Frog in Hand Summer Company to begin!
For the last four (ish) years I have had the immense joy of spending about 9 weeks with a group of incredible artists, who all share the same interest in the art of physical storytelling. Each year we get to unpack the nuances of acting, presence, physical communication and working in partnership.
I began my Frog journey as a clown with a sword, then a conditioning coach and stage combat advisor and now my role has evolved into Rehearsal Director for the 2022 season. For me this role is a delightful challenge as my background and current work is primarily focused in acting and physical storytelling. So when I get to work alongside dancers with training in a very specific movement language, it is a wonderful opportunity for me to expand my own movement language, and to offer them more tools to express their storytelling powers.
I work with our company dancers to discover their characters, to find the rhythm and beats within an acting moment, to build techniques in falling safely and to play with weapons and stage combat. I love using stage combat as a tool to help dancers connect in partnership and build confidence in physical storytelling. It allows the performer to play with extreme stakes in a safe container. It also gives the dancers an opportunity to be outrageously expressive, overdramatic and silly, which is always super fun! And secretly a wonderful way to break the ice when we move into work that can often be asking a performer to imagine and physically express some horrific events or circumstances.
I love using stage combat as a tool to help dancers connect in partnership and build confidence in physical storytelling. It allows the performer to play with extreme stakes in a safe container.
This year we are performing War of The Worlds reimagined, a story that deals with monsters from Mars wreaking war upon the earth. To prepare for this next adventure, I’m going to be working with the dancers to build their physical strength and endurance, using task based movement practices that combine techniques from martial arts, acting games and bodyweight strength training. We’ll also be working with quarterstaffs to develop kinaesthetic awareness, ensemble connection and presence. Most of all, I am excited that this year we will dive deeper into developing our acting chops.
We will essentially be creating a foundation wherein the performer can sustainably dive into a world where their character experiences unimaginable events, express those experiences as truthfully and creatively as possible, then dive out again without carrying those events with them. Which is not an easy task. But a delightful adventure.
Keep up with the Summer Company! Stay tuned to this blog and our YouTube channel for exclusive glimpses behind the scenes. Want to train with us? Check out our Eventbrite page for classes open to professionals, like Clowning for Dancers with Andrew Gaboury, June 8th.