As The Place’s annual dance festival commences, we chat to current Trinity Laban MA choreography student Ania Straczynska who’s presenting her work Grains at Resolution 2018 later this month.
In brief, how would you sum up your piece Grains?
I like to think of it as a strong and engaging female trio.
What was your inspiration behind the work?
I started reflecting on my cultural heritage and the idea of passing traditions between generations. Growing up in Poland where people strongly embrace their national culture, I was always surrounded by some sort of folklore and tradition. Then, having moved away, it felt natural to revisit those folk elements and dynamics through the lens of my own movement language. I also wanted to question the meaning and validity of intergenerational relationships.
How has your study at Trinity Laban influenced your choreography?
I have only been studying here for a few months, but it’s already influenced how I approach my practice. One of the most beneficial things so far is being able to examine my creative process through other disciplines and to learn from other artists. I have discovered a lot from sessions with architecture students, visual artists, and even a surgeon who joined us in the studio. I have connected with students from Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) and we are currently working together on a multidisciplinary performance exhibition which will take place in March at p12 gallery, which I am very excited about.
At the beginning of my time here we were told that no one is going to teach us how to choreograph, and it is true. However, the programme is designed in a way to stimulate you and equip you with the tools to discover new skills and ways of learning.
Resolution is an annual festival celebrating and supporting new dance and performance works by diverse emerging artists, what is it like to be part of the festival and present at The Place?
I am very lucky to be involved in the Festival for the second time. It is a unique opportunity to test your work in front of almost 300 spectators and be supported by the amazing, professional team at The Place. I felt like I learnt a lot from my first year at the festival so this year I am more organised and focused, and finding it easier to divide my time between the production and creation of the piece.
You invited composer Nick Murray to collaborate with you in creating Grains. How has that collaboration worked and how does having a live score influence the dance?
When DanceWest commissioned me to create a short work for the Ignition Dance Festival I asked Nick to compose a piece for me inspired by folk music. This became the first version of Grains. We worked simultaneously but separately, before putting music and choreography together half way through the process. This time, in extending the piece for Resolution 2018, we are working more collaboratively. I invite Nick to the studio so he can observe and share in the process. Sometimes we experiment with sounds as we go. This keeps the piece and the process alive and allows us to spontaneously play with ideas.
For me, as a choreographer, a live score gives an amazing flexibility as it’s specifically designed for my piece, and I believe for dancers it’s also a bespoke experience.
Have you any advice for aspiring choreographers?
Don’t underestimate research. Whether it means gathering imagery, getting inspired by videos, or looking for more context, try not to separate that from your time in the studio. Carry on the research and creation processes in parallel.
Also, be ready for ups and downs! The challenges will often surprise you but just treat them as an opportunity to boost your creativity.
Ania Straczynska presents Grains at Resolution 2018 as part of a mixed triple bill Wednesday 31 January at The Place. Dancers: Rebecca Lee, Edurne Ruiz de Alegria, Victoria Winter.
Resolution 2018 runs 12 January – 23 February. To find out more and to book tickets visit The Place’s website
To find out more about studying dance at Trinity Laban, visit our pages.