Sunday, 15 September 2013

dance rehearsal part 2

last friday I went back to the Rambert Dance Company to draw Barak Marshall’s rehearsal. I had such a great time when I was there on tuesday, the drawings weren’t great but cobwebs had been swept from my head, and I just enjoyed the act of just sitting and drawing. as I said in the last blogpost: it was glorious.

last friday. not so glorious.

the joy of being back drawing, rediscovering that pleasure and focus, had passed. and now it was time to concentrate and not waste this opportunity...  I arrived slightly late. not a good start. it doesn’t take much for the traffic on the north circular to slow down to a snail’s pace, and on friday it rained. sigh. “it’s raining. traffic’s an arse. sorry, running late” I texted Barak, conforming to the english stereotype of complaining about the weather as a way of smoothing social interaction....

When I arrived in the studio the dancers were working on the duets part of the piece. Duets. two dancers dancing together. two separate dancers and their bodies, but forming one fluid form of movement. it’s beautiful to watch. it’s a bugger to draw. especially if you are a little bit breathless from running in the rain. (NB: scanner is playing up so decided to photograph rather than scan the drawings. I quite like seeing the sketchbook as an object, but harder to get the white levels right)

I am not a dancer. I do not know the right terms or jargon. apparently last tuesday in the studio they were "cleaning" so Barak wasn’t sure if it would be good to come. I learnt that “cleaning” in dance rehearsals has nothing to do with sponges, buckets, or sweeping away cobwebs, but going over small sequences of dance to refine the particular movements. Perfect for drawing. Friday, on the other hand, they were going to do a run through of the whole piece, without pause. Beautiful to watch, a privilege to see a work-in-progress. Not so easy to draw. The drawings got looser and more scrambled.

 I realise that I drew more dancers resting than at the previous rehearsal. I needed their stillness as a contrast to the movement. 

Part of the piece involves balloons. So balloons needed to be inflated. Obviously person inflating balloons needs to be drawn. 

Huge thank you once again to Barak Marshall and the Rambert Dance Company for allowing me into their rehearsal space and letting me draw. I have had the music stuck in my head in a constant loop. it made for very interesting Yom Kippur background melodies. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

drawing again

recently I have been learning about spreadsheets and databases, marketing copy and risk assessment forms.... I have just started working at JW3, co-ordinating bits of the art studio, putting together events and altogether having a wonderful creative time with some great people. And learning spreadsheets and various bits of software. Bless the elves who designed artifax, that should make work easier and simpler. but bless the patient elf who had to train me to use it. I really shouldn’t, when faced with technology, think I should come up with scenarios that it isn’t designed for, and get gleeful satisfaction when the patient elf says “hmm that’s a good point... I’ll get back to you” (I also am this annoying in Talmud classes)... because I am after all, an artist. And artists, as I hear on a regular basis, are different. in not a good way. 

but today I remembered I was an artist in good way. today I did a series of drawings in a dance studio and it was glorious. My drawings weren’t but the experience of drawing was. Thanks to my friend, Barak Marshall, a guest choreographer at the Rambert Dance Company, I was lucky enough to see the work in progress, sit quietly in the corner and just draw. Barak and I met at an artist retreat, appropriately called Asylum. It was an artist retreat but it was really a gathering of all those who find themselves being cast as different, in not a good way, when they are in any other setting. 

So there I was, in a room full of dancers who could do amazing things with their bodies, while my body was getting used to sitting on the hard floor, getting a numb bum, pins and needles in my legs, and getting ink all over my fingers while struggling trying to capture the fleeting gestures and idosyncratic movements, making mistakes, making a mess, just making... as I said, having a glorious time. 

here are some of the drawings from today. A HUGE thank you to Barak and the people at Rambert Dance Company for allowing me into the private working space of the rehearsal studio. When I draw dancers, and it has been a while so I am a bit rusty, I tend to focus in on one dancer at a time, study their movements and gestures, get into their flow, and tend to blank out the others. After much practice at drawing and seeing I can widen the focus and start to map out the total space and the dance within. but not today. They were rehearsing a new piece for a  performance at Sadlers Wells in October. and from what I can make out from the individual moments the whole will be something worth seeing, without any blanking out. 

warming up with a couple of pencil drawings... I used to draw a bunch of musicians, and one of them always ALWAYS would say: do you have enough lead in your pencil... and then laugh heartily at his own wit. idiot.

...but today I didn't have enough lead in my pencil. I'm the idiot. had to use the fountain pen.

Barak asked me which dancer this was. "it's the one wearing black" I replied....

they were all wearing something black, in some fabulous T-shirty drapy fabric that only dancers can make look casual and elegant.

the water-brush pen makes an appearance.. (btw they did offer me a chair but I juggle so many different pens and pencils and stuff that if I am not sitting on the floor I am forever picking up stuff I have dropped on the floor)