This week has seen the start on a new creation at Bern Ballet, Lions, Tigers and Women from company director and choreographer Cathy Marston.
It is a piece that has been created from the inspiration of one particular Bernese/British woman, Vivenne Von Wattenwyl.
In the early 1920’s Vivienne and her father, Bernard, both travelled to Africa commissioned to bring back skins for the Bern Natural History Museum. They traveled extensively through East Africa aided by a large group of native Africans in their exploits. The only female of the group, Vivenne found her self looking to her father for inspiration and encouragement to continue with what was considered ‘mens’ work at the time.
There where times of great highs, and of deep lows both for Vivienne and the future of their commission for the museum. It truly is an enthralling story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, the further rehearsals continue in the run up to the premiere which is April 18th, the more i will share with you the high’s and low’s of the expedition and indeed her further adventures in Africa without her father.
This week we have been starting to work on different scenes we will be portraying in the ballet, to be accompanied by live music from Pamela Mendez and her band. There will be a series of ‘postcard’s’ if you like, and this week we have worked on the ‘Hunt’ Section, the ‘Climbing’ Section and ‘Keep Going’ Section.
I wanted to start by sharing with you how we have went about the creation process for the ‘Hunt’ Section.
Working with Cathy we always start by talking about the background of the story or person we are working on, having a good understanding of the concept certainly helps when we are in the creative process.
We talked about how we would embody the characteristics of the hunters whilst on the ‘Hunt’, how would we convey the emotions, feelings, convictions they felt whilst on the safari. we always get a nice big list of words or phrases to help us create, words we where given for this particular section included:
Tracing, tracking, footprints, eye contact, holding breath, on edge, anticipation.
Essentially what we are trying to embody in this section is the stealth mode you would go into during the hunt, where you are almost imitating the ‘big game’ you are seeing before hopefully ensnaring you’re pray if the hunt goes well.
Creating the choreography the dancers take one or two or the words and from this list you think about how you would move to embody the particular word, how best can you move and show this feeling?
After spending some time creating everyone comes together to share what they have done and film it to keep for research material. After this we get feedback on how we can improve and progress what we are doing, show again, and then start to learn certain phrases Cathy selects from everything seen to put together into a longer phrase.
It is by this process that the work is created, so it is very much a collaboration between choreographer and dancers.
I sat in on a rehearsal with the girl’s Cathy was taking, they where doing work on the ‘Keep Going’ Section, right after Vivienne has lost her father and everyone is recovering from fever. Here’s a few snaps to enjoy! Please comment, share, and leave feedback on what you want to see more of!
Until the next time, it’s goodbye from me.