Playing the Present: Choice, Change & Chance


YMCharley2

The physical skills and mind sets required to practice and perform instant composition are becoming increasingly relevant for today’s professional dancers. Being able to ‘think on your feet’, ‘go with the flow’, ‘stay on your toes’, ‘wing it’, ‘be in the moment’, do something, ‘on the fly’ are popular expressions of this. Bringing timing, musicality, spatial composition and physical repertory into the mix takes this ability to a new level. Being confident and adept at instantly composing and performing dance material is an important resource for dancers and choreographers who want to survive and thrive in today’s industry. In this workshop we will be breaking down and looking at the components of instant composition step by step, chunk by chunk.

We will practice processes, methods, tools and ways to access some specific mind and body skill sets for instantly composing and performing movement and dance; we will look at some technical approaches to performing instant composition and compare and contrast them with technical approaches that dancers employ to perform repeatable and memorisable choreographic material: dancers can then choose which tool box to dip into at any given moment or in any given situation that best suits their needs. We will look at some of the changing conditions of being a dance artist in the world today and why instant composition and its various applications are becoming more relevant, visible, popular and sought after by audiences, professionals and non-professionals in the dance industry. We will also look at some of the historical roots of this practice and its applications to different art forms and cultures globally.

Juliet Shelley began working professionally in the field of instant composition in 1987 in England as a member of Jointwork Dance Group, working with theatre and dance artists such as Jos Houben of Theatre de Complicite, Rosemary Lee, Katie Duck and Kirstie Simson. She taught classes and workshops in contemporary technique and contact improvisation throughout the ‘80’s in England and worked freelance choreographing set pieces for theatres, fashion shows, school groups and festivals. She relocated to NZ in 1994. Over the past twenty two years she has been an active exponent of live composition in performance and contact improvisation in New Zealand, bringing artists such as Nancy Stark Smith, Martin Keogh, Andrew Marcus and Magpie Music Dance Company to New Zealand.  Juliet has created, performed and co-produced solo and ensemble dance pieces for festivals, galleries, studios and theatres in England, Italy, the Netherlands and New Zealand. She has taught classes and workshops nationally and in Australia, the USA, Singapore, Italy, the UK and the Netherlands.