Workshop & Review: James Wilton Leviathan

Way back in November (this is where you’re all going to realise how behind I am on my blog posts) I got the opportunity through uni to do a workshop with two dancers from James Wilton’s company – Roger Fernandez Cifuentes and Lisard Tranis. Towards the end, James came in as well and taught a section of the workshop and to observe what we’d done.

It was 10-1 on a Saturday morning and was a bit of a shock to the system, it was so high energy and full on for three solid hours but so much fun! The dancers were absolutely stunning, they’d show us a phrase and I’d spend the next five minutes stood there staring in absolute awe; they just moved so gracefully and flawlessly. It was really inspiring to watch.

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It was open to all years so there was a mix of students from first years to MA students so it was really nice to be in a studio with a mixture of people with varied abilities.

We started class with drills coming across the space to wake up the body and get used to travelling in and out of the floor (this is something I’ve worked on a lot since coming to uni, I’d like to think if I did this workshop again now I’d be even better at the material) and getting used to bearing weight in the hands. Ideas that ran throughout were playing with weight in the hands, suspension and how we can use the floor.

After learning a couple of phrases, we started learning repertoire from Leviathan, we ended up learning two phrases that were completely contrasting. The first one was performed in tight unison in a vertical line and represented the movement of the whale’s spine. The dynamics were fast and had an attacking quality that travelled through the space. The idea was to keep the movement fluid and soft but be able to speed up and maintain the qualities with smooth transitions between the complex movements.

The second phrase was much calmer and was based around waves and wave journeys through the body, thinking about where they start and end. It was much slower and gave more time to explore.

The last task we did was the one that James lead for us, and was duet work. In pairs, we had a wrist connection and just had to explore what was possible around that link, keeping connected to each other the whole time. We found that timing and suspension with each other played a massive part on how effective the movements look, the more risk you take, the more impressive it looks. There’s also an element of remembering that you don’t have to ‘dance’ everything, when you keep things simple and just move, that’s when interesting things happen. It’s also a lot to do with problem solving, and instead of just breaking the link of reversing the movement when you reach a stuck point, how can you creatively get out of it? How can you be less predictable? We were only given 15 minutes to do this, and some of the work that was produced in that short amount of time was really fantastic so given longer, who knows what we would’ve all ended up with? The possibilities are endless.

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In the evening, we went to see Leviathan which was amazing, the movement content was on another level and the whole company was outstanding. There was something about Lisard that just stood out so much from the rest; there was something about his looks and the way he moved across the stage that was mesmerising.

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Leviathan is inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick – it follows a ship captain who is determined to capture the white whale who is described as being ‘as dangerous as the sea itself, yet serene and beautiful beyond all imagining.’ It also explores mankind’s relationship with nature and how our progress as a society has come at the expense of nature and how through our selfish actions we have created a world that will not be able to sustain us much longer. The cast consists of 7 dancers and the movement combines athletic dance, martial arts and capoeira set to an electro-rock soundtrack.

The trailer for the piece and more information about the company can be found here.

Much Love x

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