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Inside the Studio : Week Nine Layers of Skin

Hi, my name is Marnix, and for two months now I've been working with Retina as a dramaturg and communications officer.

The first job allows me to spend lots of time in the studio, seeing this piece grow day by day. And that's been amazing. I've never worked with a company that can evoke such an energy on stage and in the studio, performing with such intricacy, prepared to push their bodies to the limit and always a bit beyond. In English it may read as a weak wordplay, but its moving!. I'm guessing that only this kind of dedication and energy can fuel a project this ambitious. And as an audience member, it's quite unique to witness just that alone. At the same time its a blessing to work with a choreographer who has his own unique movement language, but on the other hand is open to input and feedback. That makes the sitting, looking and wondering that this dream job is about even nicer.

And that’s where the second job comes in: almost to ensure that I get some movement as well, running around from here to there and back again, spreading the word. Hoping to share this thing with as many other people who may enjoy it. And fortunately we're headed in the right direction: the premiere will be packed with enthusiasts, and the second and the third performance night audience numbers are growing by the day. And they are right to book, because Layers of Skin not only looks exciting, but even kind of risky! Because the scale and the energy of Layers of Skin gets boosted by the day. And the theatre already feels inappropriately small!

Now we're preparing for the final sprint, because it’s all going to happen. First there was the music by Aranis, a brisk mix of sun-ripened tango, contemporary classical and rock music. Then there is the movement material, varying between subdued poetical statues to explosive group scenes. Last week we started working with 8 local professional dancers, to expand some scenes to the next level and its amazing how massive 14 dancers look on a stage, even on a stage the size of Cultuurcentrum Berchem. Yesterday we did a run with live music, which not only adds 7 musicians, but considerably boosts the atmosphere. And tonight we start working with a group of 12 enthusiastic local community dancers, eager to join us on stage. Add some new mass choreographies, the right lighting and costumes (with a hint of nudity of course, it's contemporary dance we're talking about) and you get something that makes me doubt if Cultuurcentrum Berchem can contain it. But whether the walls will be in the way or not, what you can be sure of, is that the energy will be there, in some amazing music and movement, getting under your skin!

Written by Marnix Rummens, Dramaturg & Belgium Communications

Buy Tickets for Layers of Skin premiere at Cultuurcentrum Berchem on June 23, 24 & 25

Summer School opportunities in Nottingham

Retina Dance Company presents…

Arts Award Bronze in a Week

Pupils from Nottingham City Schools – you are invited to attend a week-long summer dance programme with Retina Dance Company. You will complete the four parts of your Arts Award Bronze, see The Sound of Music (Theatre Royal, Nottingham), receive an introduction to contemporary dance and work towards a performance at the end of the week.

Places are limited and allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
£65 OR book places on both Arts Award in a week & Retina Summer School for a total of £100
July 25 – 29
10am – 4pm at the College Street Centre, Nottingham, NG1 5AQ
More info : .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) / 07943 835459

Retina Summer School

Learn new skills, meet like-minded people and be inspired in challenging Retina style workshops, culminating in a performance. Retina Dance Company will teach 3 full days of technique classes and workshops for 11-17yr olds and professionals 18+.

a wonderful experience that has really fired my passion for dance!…my body felt alive with physicality…I have been left feeling more confident and like a dancer than I have before. Zoe Sawane – Scottish School of Contemporary Dance student

August 15 – 17
New College Nottingham (ncn), Clarendon, Pelham Avenue, Nottingham NG5 1AL

RYDC Audition

Retina Youth Dance Company wants you! Please come along to the audition for your chance to become an RYDC member. RYDC members have weekly dance classes, take part in exchanges with youth companies and perform around the country. Meet current RYDC members and get a taster for the Retina Style at our 3-day Summer School.

August 18
New College Nottingham (ncn), Clarendon, Pelham Avenue, Nottingham NG5 1AL

To find out more info & to book onto any of these please contact Joanna : admin@retinadance.com / 0115 947 6202 ext 225

Retina is supported by Arts Council England, Cultuurcentrum Berchem, Stad Antwerpen, District Berchem, Nottingham City Council

Inside the Studio : Week Eight Layers of Skin

Hi I’m Ian and I’m Retina’s Education Officer for the East Midlands and this week I have been in Antwerp with the dancers and Filip while they work on Layers of Skin...

Anyone who doubts the healing power of the arts needs to spend a week with a dance company! (or maybe just this dance company). I stepped off the Eurostar in Belgium at 9am Monday morning with a head-cold, blocked nose, a spine that sounded like a skeleton playing maracas while tap-dancing and a brain made fuzzy from sleep deprivation. By midday Tuesday my cold had cleared up and my fuzzy head was freshly laundered and busy being filled with lots and lots (and lots) of Filip’s new material. As the week progressed I began to feel my body unlocking again, with a liquid spine and (as every dancer knows) that lovely ‘it hurts like hell but it’s totally worth it’ all over achy feeling - as only a week with Filip can deliver.

However, the enjoyment of all the lovely classes (especially an amazing Thursday massage session) was short-lived, because as soon as class was over the dancers produced a massive mental crowbar and began to shoehorn tonnes of material into my tiny squealing brain. There was so little time to grab it all but Louisa (the company apprentice) was fab (Grazi Louisa Grazi!) and went through things until I felt as if my head was full and all the complicated intricate and exhilarating choreography was pouring out my ears.

The boys let me crash in a spare room of the ccBe apartment - a purpose built top floor flat with a lovely sunny roof terrace and a Nintendo Wii (which is a fantastic idea for visiting dance companies – British venues take note). Oh, and about (at a conservative estimate) ten hundred million mosquitoes. (Thanks to Kristina and Dave for hooking me up with various pre and post insect attack chemicals btw). In the evenings we sat outside in one of the little café’s and drank delicious Belgian beer and played duck and cover with wave after wave of bloodthirsty flying insects. The other great thing about staying in ccBe is that it’s possible to roll out of bed at 9.20am, jump in the shower and be fresh as a daisy, smelling delightful and ready to sweat loads for class.

On Tuesday I cooked for the guys and made a stir fry, (Note to self for future – Less rice and more stir fry) fortunately Matt was on hand to save me with a few more veggies!. On Wednesday we went over to Nat and Filip’s where Nat put me to shame with an amazing meal with lots of wine and conversation, then settled down to berate the many failings of this year’s BBC batch of apprentice candidates. So if nothing else this week, I have been well fed, stuffed full of choreography and introduced to the wonderful world of Alan Sugars creepy finger pointing (YOU’RE FIRED!)

But enough rambling, let’s talk about Layers of Skin. It looks, AMAZING!!! On Friday I watched a full run (all 1 hour and 4 seconds and there might be even more to come) and it literally makes my heart stop. There are so many things that stand out… Especially the duet’s and trio’s! Dave and Kristina’s amazing speedy gonzalez duet, Steven and Pauline’s solo’s, Matt and Pauline’s duet, the boys trio, the accumulation sections... I could go on and on! Filip tried out a new layering and structure for the end and the guys finished the full run (first one ever) covered in sweat and smiles! I think the achy arms, necks, backs, thighs and eyebrows (David) are definitely worth! And I say that of course with someone with only slightly achy arms, neck, back and thighs.

So much happened this week and I’ve learnt so much its difficult to take it all in. I’ve learnt about a third of the piece and am super motivated about all the possibilities for workshops and teaching for the education packages back home! East Midlands watch out!

So my potted summary of 7 days in Antwerp…..

Best things: Dance Dance Dance!!! Meeting all the lovely new Retina Dancers, playing with Mika and Kobi in the studio, amazing Belgium beer, brilliant local food, lots and lots of support for the arts by a supportive open minded and enlightened population (Hint Hint) and nailing a section of rep down cold!

Worst things: Having to leave, mosquitoes, not having a photographic memory, mosquitoes, losing on the Nintendo Wii, mosquitoes, the early morning achy body feeling and mosquitoes.

Thing you’re most likely to hear me say: So wait, what comes after this? Things you’re least likely to hear me say: Ah, fantastic, more mosquitoes!

Written by Ian Dolan, Retina Dance Company Education Officer

Buy Tickets for Layers of Skin premiere at Cultuurcentrum Berchem on June 23, 24 & 25

Inside the Studio : Week Seven Layers of Skin

Well Hello there, its Steven here, I am the last of the company to write the blog for the Layers of Skin creation and as predicted I am handing it in late….whoopsies!!! Oh well, I better get on with it then!!!

Monday kicked off with a rehearsal of La Lutte (amazing way to start the week off…literally with a bang), poor Matt had again been stranded in Amsterdam the night before and had just arrived in Antwerp that morning but even though we were both a tad on the sleepy side the run of the piece went great and we managed to get all the way to the end which, with La Lutte, is half the battle! However, I did manage to scratch Mister Slater on the forehead somehow…Sorry Matt! I love coming back to La Lutte after a break from it, as it always seems to develop and change. It’s a very exciting piece to perform, even if it is just a run in the studio. After we had finished rehearsing La Lutte we all came back together and got back to Layers of Skin. Filip began working on two duets in the piece (Erin and Kristina, Pauline and Dave), the emphasis on the rehearsal was the intention of the movement they were creating and the tone it set at their different points in the piece. We also put a section called ‘the 7’s’ into a clear spatial structure, which I’m sure I’ll get right before the premiere … erm, fingers-crossed! In the evening we performed as part of a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Cultuurcentrum Berchem (this is where we rehearse in Antwerp, for all you non-Belgian followers out there).

On Tuesday we revisited a Quintet that was created a few weeks ago. Filip played about with the material, creating a gestural version and adding it into the structure of the section. We finished the day with a run of 45 minutes of Layers of Skin. It feels that each time we run the piece it is getting stronger and everything is beginning to settle and make sense…it is very exciting! It’s also nice to see everyone getting more confident in the work. All of the company are so different it is so nice to watch them all and what they bring to the piece…you guy’s rock! Can’t wait for June!!

As Matt and I were performing La Lutte in Gent on Sunday 22nd as part of Rêverie 2011 Dance Festival the company rehearsed in Gent from Wednesday to Friday and did open class and rehearsal there. Wednesday’s rehearsal focused on the music for the first section of the piece. It was useful to listen to the music together and make sure we were all on the same page. Thursday approached with another run of La Lutte, the final rehearsal before the show on Sunday and a Layers of Skin creative task. We had to come up with a short gestural phrase with the idea of exploring your own skin. We were then put in groups so we could observe each other’s movement and take out unnecessary dance steps so you could only see the original intention without embellishment. I then had to give my short phrase its own distinct rhythm, this involved having a metronome constantly ticking in the background for the rest of the day…having a tooth removed without anaesthetic is less painful. I was then teamed up with Matt to mix up our phrases to create one. This was continued on Friday (as was the metronome☹) and then the day was finished up with a run of the piece.

Sunday came along and it was indeed no day of rest for the wicked…erm, I mean me. Filip and I hopped on a train to Gent and began to get ready for the La Lutte performance…well actually, Filip and the technician set up the lights while Matt and I had a snooze in another room until it was tech time! It’s a tough life! The performance was well received by a warm audience and it was a great way to end the week…oh, except I did end up scratching Matt’s face again…Sorry Slater!

Written by Steven Martin, Retina Dance Company

Buy Tickets for Layers of Skin premiere at Cultuurcentrum Berchem on June 23, 24 & 25

Want to dance in Layers of Skin premiere? Aged 12-112 and enjoy movement? Come to our open workshop 28 May

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