The beginning of the EU project 'Integrance' by Amy

Amy writes about the beginning of the EU project 'Integrance' at Zinc Arts

Amy on the EU project

Last week we were hosting the first week of the EU project at Zinc Arts, involving Stopgap, Micadanses, Platform-K and Indepen-dance. Each company hosts the other companies in their own country for a week at a time at different points over the next eighteen months. Nieke Swennen is choreographing the work and after the final week together the piece is performed. This project is a wonderful opportunity to meet and mingle with other integrated companies; share our practices and current performances and work as one unit towards a final product.  

My role is to work alongside Nieke and help to translate her ideas into movement, drawing out the qualities that she is after in the dancers and continuing to work with Sg2 on her ideas in between the four residencies.   

At first I was unsure what to expect, I only found out that I had been appointed the role a few days before so did not have an opportunity to do any research on the choreographer or other companies. This  was actually beneficial, it meant that I had no expectations. Each company consists of four dancers, both disabled and non-disabled artists and the mixture is rich and interesting, each performer is very different. 

Stopgap led the first two days at Zinc Arts, to welcome the group and get everyone moving. It is quite clear that as an integrated company we work to an extremely high level and although everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves, some were not accustomed to pushing their bodies. 

We are an established company and it is important for integrated dance companies just starting out to know what is possible to achieve. After performing for the other companies on Wednesday night I think this was realised and there was a certain buzz of excitement in the air. 

There is simplicity in the ideas and methods that Nieke is using and it is more about the individual. Some of the dancers find this appealing and others struggle, I think it is important for me as Nieke's assistant to get everyone on board. There are different ways of communicating her ideas and for those dancers aching to be more physical there are options available that can challenge them whilst staying true to Nieke's intention. 

Due to language and expectation sometimes the ideas get lost in translation. I feel that I have a responsibility to know what Nieke wants so then I can also help with communicating this to the dancers. Nieke is not a crafter of movement, it is clear that she goes with a feeling and knows what she wants but is not always sure how to evolve the movement in order to achieve this. Working on the detail of the movement is something that I relish so I am more than happy to oversee this element of the choreography.

It was a surprise to me to realise how much Nieke wants me to be involved. She is very clear about what she wants but she would like assistance in achieving this, especially with the English speaking dancers as her grasp of the language is not as clear as with French and Flemish. I am looking forward to the next stage in Paris and am excited about working with Sg2 in the studio.

Amy Butler

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