Returning to Creation

In anticipation of returning for the creation of The Enormous Room, we asked Amy how taking on the role of rehearsal director for Akram Khan would influence her work at Stopgap...

My Recent Experiences

Since Autumn last year I have been working with the Akram Khan Company performing the role of rehearsal director for the performance ‘Chotto Desh’. Although I have done some rehearsal direction in the past this project has been the most involved and high profile.

The role of rehearsal director requires a wide range of skills. The main focus is the quality of the show and more specifically the choreography; therefore the dancers well being is also at the heart of what I do. Having said this, the entire team needs to be considered and the technical side of the show is critical in ensuring the performance is a truly great one.

From my experience there is an element of middle management involved; the rehearsal director provides one of the communication channels between the artistic/administrative management and the touring team. It is a juggling act; you are there to re-enforce the choreographic vision whilst making sure that everyone involved in the performance is in top condition mentally and physically, so that the show is delivered in the best possible way. Priorities have to be made and at some point the onus is on you to make the right decision.

My favourite part of the day is getting the dancers ready for the ensuing show and catching up with the technical team to ensure everything is as it should be. Then of course watching the show and experiencing the audiences response is also very special; even though I have watched the performance an inordinate amount of times I still love it! Absorbing as much detail of the performance as possible is important; I have to stay completely engaged in order to give the appropriate feedback.

The meticulous nature of polishing dance material is something I actually take real pleasure in and I believe this to be a positive attribute for a rehearsal director. Stopgap has an incredible way of blending movement and refining movement in terms of quality, but I am wanting to bring more focus back to the detail in the body. It might sound pretentious but even the position of the index finger can matter. If the quality of the movement is not sacrificed, should not everybody know exactly where every anatomical part of their body is in relation to others and the space? This is the complexity that can take set choreography to a new level. Having said this, I would be slightly frightened of projecting such rigidity as the beauty of the individual could disintegrate, however, I do believe with sensitivity you can have it all.

Having a deeper understanding of the greater picture of what happens in order to deliver a top-notch performance is always going to be useful for a dancer. You become more patient, generous and informed. When you are performing it is very easy for your ego to take over, but usually there are twice as many people as performers working just as hard to make it all happen. I sincerely believe that I will enter the creation and tour of The Enormous Room with more active support for the entire team behind the show.

From my recent learning’s I believe that high expectations can encourage incredible things to happen both on an individual and company level. This expectation should not be aggressive but positive and affirming; people deliver when you believe they are capable and doubting makes things unnecessarily difficult. Stopgap Dance Company employs the most varied and exciting group of people I have ever had the pleasure to work with; I just believe we can go further, impact upon more people and keep our expectations high.

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