Monday Musings with AD - 'Zeitgeist'

Another Monday with Artistic Director, Lucy Bennett - today's musings focus on the similarities between choreographers ideas...

'Zeitgeist'

Last night I watched Batroffenheit by Jonathan Young and Crystal Pite on BBC iPlayer.  I am still soaking in the kaleidoscopic choreography, reeling from the frightening narrative and unpicking the clever crafting of this bold work.

It is as if Crystal Pite has picked up from where all the inventive text choreographing British dance theatre makers left off in the 90’s and has made a piece most dance theatre choreographers would die to make.

But there is another thing playing on my mind - some of her images seemed to have jumped right out of my notebook and on to the stage.

Towards the end of our process of The Enormous Room in Spring 2016 we had a visit from Julian Sleath of Banff Arts Centre in Canada, who supported the creation of Batroffenheit. In the tiny church hall in Portsmouth we shared our movement, text and structure to him.

“It’s entitled The Enormous Room, the first half our central male character is trapped, suffocated and weighted down by the room, unable to move forward.  The second half the room is deconstructed and suddenly we have a huge space for the memories, thoughts and imaginings to move like tumble weed around the vast space. Oh and it is about loss, tragedy and ultimately trying to move on” 

Sound familiar? It will - if you have seen Batroffenheit and it did to our Canadian visitor. At the same time as Crystal Pite was premiering her phenomenal work we were putting the final touches to our smaller scale production.

There is only one word for it ‘Zeitgeist’. I have always been fascinated by trends, fashion and the zeitgeist. Why do we suddenly have an influx of Western remakes or Vampire films? Why are there no female singers and suddenly loads of Joni Mitchell wannabes?

Luckily for me although conceptually similar, I was working with a very different palette – which took the work away from my usual Vaudeville antics and black humour. A lot of the repetition of one scene and verbatim speaking got left in the studio and of course ours has a very British feel, soundtrack, design and performers.

I am of course fearful we will be compared to this giant of a work but I am also secretly pleased we are on the same page as this giantess of a choreographer!

Zeitgeist – meaning Time Spirit, seems quite relevant when The Enormous Room references spirits, ghosts and the place between this world and the next...

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