Catch up on last week’s reviews on The Place blog.
Image: Watts Dance
I caught up with Cecilia Watts, whose piece I will be dancing in next week with her company Watts Dance. The piece – WLA No.657005 – is inspired by the Women’s Land Army, which was made up of young women who worked as agricultural labourers during the Second World War. They took over the roles from the men who had been called up to fight, and their vital work as ‘Land Girls’ was at the forefront of the war effort, keeping the farms going and Britain fed. Cecilia commented:
‘I’ve always had an interest in the 1940’s era. My mum is a 1940’s re-enactor so I’ve grown up with a lot of knowledge and influence from that specific time period. At re-enactments I have dressed as a Land Girl before and I wanted to learn more about these women, so for my birthday my mum got me a book called ‘The Women’s Land Army’ by Vita Sackville-West. The WLA were often described as the unsung heroes of the Second World War and this was where the idea for a piece surrounding these women began to develop for me.
The piece has ended up as a narrative-based work, with a story that we built upon as we rehearsed and music composed specifically for the piece created alongside it. Our story revolves around a group of five women, and will show how the camaraderie of the group overcomes the sadness of war.’
The music for the piece has been composed by fellow Trinity Laban alumnus Robin Porter, who will be playing the music live on piano throughout the piece. Cecilia met Robin during her first year at TL and they continued to work together for her Independent Project in her final year.
Each section of music has been composed with a unique process – sometimes the movement material inspired the music or vice versa.
‘One of the best moments I experienced was when we were rehearsing a solo with Robin playing live for the first time. The solo was performed once, and when he had finished playing he turned to me and said that it was really lovely for him to see his piece of music come to life this way. This was wonderful to hear as I had felt exactly the same way. Watching the dancers and the music come together was like watching an idea of my own come to life.’
As I have found through my own experience and through discussing with fellow choreographers, Resolution teaches you so many valuable skills beyond creating a work. I asked Cecilia what she had learnt from the process:
‘There’s much more to the role of choreographer than getting into a studio and creating. I’d never truly appreciated before how much needed to be done to get a piece off the ground. As much as I enjoyed being back in the studio and creating again, there has been a lot going on outside of the studio. Admin, advertisement, costumes, lighting, music, scheduling rehearsals with dancers, musician, lighting designer – whilst working my job at the same time – and I’m sure the list goes on. It’s like the wheels in your mind never stop turning. Despite this I think what Resolution has really taught me is that the content of the work must be the most important thing, and all these other things, though important, are secondary to what you are creating.
I’ve learnt how much work is needed to be put in, the effort it takes to juggle everything, but also how to enjoy the process and not let it overwhelm you. The workshops that Resolution offered this year were a real factor in this – speaking with other artists involved in the process, we have all felt incredibly supported.’
I went on to ask Cecilia how her time here at Trinity Laban developed her practice as a dance artist:
‘My time at Trinity Laban was a huge turning point – I felt like a completely different person when I graduated compared to when I began.
I’d say the biggest developments I saw were shown in my confidence and understanding of dance. When I first started, I really had no idea what I wanted to do or if I was even good enough to work in the dance industry. That was the problem, I was always questioning if I was good enough, or if was going to fail, or if everyone around me were simply better. But at Trinity Laban, as well as teaching me everything you expect to learn from a dance institute, I think the most important thing I learnt is that when developing as a dance artist, even though having competitive energy around you isn’t a bad thing, you should never be focused on whether you ‘succeed’ or ‘fail’. You should focus on the journey. Instead of viewing fellow dance artists as competitors in a race where no one knew where the finish line was, I really started to view them as collaborators and people to confide in and support, which is something you really need when evolving as an artist.
As well as all this, Trinity Laban opened up my eyes to ways of performing and creating that were completely new to me. These new ideas opened up new doors of development, and suddenly the dance world, though bigger, seemed much less daunting, and much more exciting.’
What’s next for Watts Dance?
‘I could definitely see WLA No.657005 being extended and bringing back a lot of ideas we discarded during the rehearsal process. I’m already looking into possible locations for a tour of the work around September time, so I’d like to add one or two other pieces to our rep, as well as some possible new additions to the company. I know for sure that now I’ve been back in the studio creating again with this wonderful group of dancers, I won’t want to be stopping anytime soon.’
For more information and to book tickets visit The Place website.
Image: Watts Dance
Graduate Intern – Press & PR