Twinships At Dancehouse
Current Dancehouse Artist in Resident Deanne Butterworth has spent the last six months creating Twinships, exploring the way dance is interpreted by its witnesses. The result remains somewhat of a mystery to the creator herself.
“I think when the sound designer, Michael Munson was coming in and the lighting designer were coming in I did start to question a little bit what I was doing – and going, ‘what is this thing I’ve set up, what is this world I’ve made?’ I’m not sure I fully understand it at the moment but at the same time I don’t really want to,” says Butterworth.
While Butterworth is a very experienced dancer with an impressive CV, this is the first time she’s had such a lengthy residency. “I think one of the nicest things has been at Dancehouse, to have the option of support from them or decide to be quite isolated,” she says. “Having support from them has enabled me to collaborate with people too, so having a sound designer (Munson) there right from the very beginning is a rich way to work. He has an interest in soundscape or quite cinematic things and I think without that the work would be quite different.
The other stuff I’ve done with him, the choreography has been made and the sound was layered over the top, but he’s been there right from the beginning and we’ve been talking a lot and sending stuff online and it’s been a constant process – that’s one of the biggest differences in this.”
The concept for the piece relied on even more collaboration. “Initially when I wrote the application it was to set up two things at the same time, to set up the idea of developing a work but at the same time inviting other people in so that they cold be involved in the process of a work developing. I did this thing called group meetings and I arranged for an open call for participants to come in to see the work develop over six months,” shares Butterworth. “I’d also do these meetings when other people would come in. I probably went into it a little naively – I wanted it to be really, really open: so other dancers, designers, visual artists, musicians and also people who have an interest in dance, who see dance, but they don’t necessarily see that side of it.”
Butterworth took a broad approach to the workshops, sometimes previewing dance vocabulary, or at other times discussing the seemingly unrelated. “The stuff that I showed was stuff that I was interested in and it wasn’t necessarily about being productive either,” she says. “It was stuff I was interested in messing around with and I was interested in what people thought of that; I didn’t want them to feel like they had to talk about the work I was producing, I wanted the discussion to be a whole lot broader than that. I would bring games and books in.
The first one was I was playing around with the idea of closing off from the sounds of the room – and me listening to an iPod. [We discussed] the way that people read what’s in front of them and how it isn’t necessarily what’s happening. The discussion turned into how you see what’s in front of you when you see dance and the stories you make up in your own head about things that are happening in your imagination. Other discussion was really about the physicality of movement and the weight of movement and often they would come back to the idea of how you look at something and the space you’re in.
“The last of those things that I had was a Skype session, which was quite fun and that was with someone who knew my work really well and I know her work really well. That was quite interesting for her to come and see what I was doing in the middle of a process. I did what I was doing, but that was actually quite odd because then it was this thing about knowing someone was there but the presence of her not actually being real and that was something I was interested in anyway.
Now I look back on them (the meetings) and think they actually did have a big role in shaping it in terms of defining what it was that I was actually interested in exploring. The movement that I showed in those early days I let go. After doing a few more of those I totally isolated myself and was really, really happy to be in the studio alone a lot of the time.”
While Butterworth is looking forward to taking the piece to the stage, she’s not looking forward to the residency ending. “It’s a huge luxury because also I get a wage with it as well. I’ve had times in the past where I go and book a studio and I will work and commit to working and seeing an outcome. But with this I don’t have to be productive, there’s no pressure, well there is now and maybe two months ago there started to be pressure but it’s a really different way of working because it’s about finding a practice and really refining it. I’ve had moments like two weeks where I’ve had a residency before and you get to a particular place, but with this it’s a real luxury and I’ll miss it.”
Deanne Butterworth performs Twinships at Dancehouse, 150 Princes Street, North Carlton, from Wednesday July 21 to Sunday July 25.