Somewhere between childhood and young adulthood most of us stop dancing. We walk, we sit. We move only to get somewhere, to do something.
On weekend weddings, dads set down their sixth pint, don their necktie-bandanas and jump around the dancefloor, while the yout escape for summers spent shuffling around Ibiza with reckless abandon. And the truth is that many of those things that we feel emboldened to do in the warm haze of inebriation are the very same that make us feel truly free.
For those who have never been to a contemporary dance show, that's what you're watching - that same feeling of freedom. Not short-shorted twenty-somethings fist-pumping after a few VK blues. And that's why the good shows move you.
In an effort to explain the transcendent power of that kind of performance, throughout the year we will be featuring a series of guest blogs from behind the scenes at 2Faced Dance – the nationally-renowned contemporary company based here in little ol’ Hereford.
Fresh off the opening weekend of their new show ‘RUN’ – get info on tour dates here, trust us you'll want to see this – the first blog in the series comes from 2Faced new boy Kai Tomioka.
Kai trained at the Central School of Ballet before landing a post-grad gig with Verve, and being selected as a category finalist in the prestigious BBC Young Dancer of the Year, by the likes of contemporary dance heavy-hitter Jasmin Vardimon.
Having peeked in to one of the final tech rehearsals before the company hit the road, Kai’s solo to kick off From Above is undoubted, hypnotic highlight to yet another dramatic piece from Hereford choreographer, and 2Faced head honcho, Tamsin Fitzgerald.
Here Kai is on creating that piece, and working with Czech choreographer Lenka Vagnerova.
Since joining 2Faced in May, it’s fair to say that a lot has happened.
As well as a number of performances of the outdoor piece ‘Kapow’, we have been busy creating our new and upcoming production, ‘RUN’.
RUN explores the darker side of humanity, through an explosion of movement, theatre and design - a triple bill of exhilarating commissions by world-class choreographers Tamsin Fitzgerald, Lenka Vagnerová and Rebecca Evans.
The first piece we created was ‘Fallen Angels’, choreographed by Lenka Vagnerova. What instantly struck me about Lenka was her passion for the work. Every rehearsal when we were mentally and physically exhausted and didn't feel like our bodies were going to be able to withstand another run through, Lenka - with her encouraging words and energy in the studio - would give us all the boost that we would need to carry on.
A typical rehearsal day with Lenka would start with class at 9:30. This would prepare us for the day and Lenka would incorporate her unique movement vocabulary into the class, as a means of helping us become more familiar with it as it appears often in the piece.
Her fluidity in and out of the floor - as well as her combination of flexibility and strength - were so different to what we were used to, it was really inspiring for us in the studio.
After class we would then start creating movement, either through tasks that Lenka would assign to us, or we would learn some choreography she had already created. To have the opportunity for this ‘play time’ meant that we could create and try things out without thinking that it had to be an end product.
We spent two weeks simply creating. Any ideas were welcome, and anything that didn't work Lenka, would say, ‘maybe for the next project!’ and we would try something else. This resulted in having a vast amount of material already created. The next two weeks were spent putting this material together and creating the final piece.
Rebecca Evans was the second choreographer to come in, and she created the duet ‘The Other’. While not directly involved in the creation process, it was exciting to be there and get a glimpse at the end of each week how it was going.
In my first year at Central School of Ballet I worked with Rebecca, and it always amazes me how small the dance world is when you bump into people again! Her duet incorporates five goblet-like lights, which turn on and off based on the movement of the lights. The duet is performed beautifully by dancers Jack Humphrey and Jason Reece Boyle and I can’t wait to see it on stage.
The final piece that we created was Tamsin Fitzgerald’s piece ‘From Above’. With a powerful score composed by Angus McRae, three huge light boxes all manoeuvred by us and a driving physicality throughout, this piece was really great fun to make.
At the beginning of the creation process, Tamsin explained her idea about the light boxes.
It was very hard to imagine. The setup was something so spectacular and unique that there wasn't really anything that we compared it to. We used the airconditioning unit in the studio, and a model made up of two ballet barres and some dance floor to try replicate it, and I think we did a pretty good job with it.
While a lot of the material relied on the light boxes, of course we weren't able to solidify this until we had time in the theatre to work with them. Bu then when we got in the theatre it was great fun working out how quickly we could move the light boxes around, and this time of play again was essential.
The combination of working with prop and set as well as complex choreography was a first for me, and provided me with invaluable experience that I will keep with me in the future.
It has been a tiring and physically exhausting journey, full of ups and downs but the sense of achievement thus far has made it all worth it. This will be my first time performing on stage with 2Faced Dance company, and I am very excited to get started!