Clemmie Sveaas, the very-much-in-demand freelance dancer, is also a member of the highly respected New Movement Collective and the Collective are about to premiere their latest site-specific work, ‘Collapse – a period drama’, at London’s Southbank (30 July – 6 August 2016). It promises a different approach to performance and we wanted to know more…
Collapse – a period drama sounds nothing like your normal dance show – can you briefly outline what it’s all about? (and also what ‘period’ are we talking about exactly?!)
We have been chewing on a lot of themes and ideas for this show. One of the main ideas being, what is time? How we perceive time, how we hold time, how time can give perspective on repetition and how, through repetition, cycles occur. With this in mind, the use of ‘a period drama’ in the tittle doesn’t relate directly to one period of time. The piece is timeless.
How long have you all been working on Collapse and how does it work out creating collaboratively rather than a single choreographer driving things? Is it the way of the future?
Discussions on Collapse started over 2 years ago. We have gone through several development periods and the piece has naturally morphed into the version we have found ourselves with today. The final leg of the creation for this performance at the South Bank Centre has been 5 weeks. It’s been a fairly small group of NMC’ers making this one. Mainly 4 of us with the input of others when they have been able to come in and act as an outside eye.
Working collaboratively has its ups and downs, as any process does. The wonderfully unique thing about the collective is the way in which we work with a ‘collective brain’. It takes time and patience and a willingness to try whatever is put on the table. But often working in this way you end up finding something you would never have found had it just been one person in charge. It’s collaboration in the truest sense and what initially attracted me to the New Movement Collective. Is it the way of the future?… It certainly isn’t the only way. But it’s something that we at NMC continue to try and explore and refine.
Lots of technology is promised – how’s it working out incorporating it all and rehearsing a site-specific piece off-site?
We have been lucky to have had 2 weeks on site before opening the show. It’s always informative to the work when you actually get in the space and it’s meant that the material we created beforehand has had a chance to find its place in relationship to the space.
In terms of the technology aspect, we have tried to keep a conversation going throughout rehearsals with our collaborators, ScanLAB Projects and Oliver Coates, so that we are all on the same page. But generally speaking it’s fairly usual that all the elements of the show don’t come together until later down the line. It’s wonderfully exciting when it does, though!
You’re incredibly good at doing what you do, but where and when do you get the satisfaction in doing it – while dancing live, audience appreciation, collaborating in the studio, perhaps? What gives you the most amazing buzz?
Firstly, thanks! Secondly… That’s an impossible question to answer! There is a ‘buzz’ factor to all of the above! There are moments in the studio during a collaboration that can be incredibly satisfying. Equally there are moments when you can’t wait to leave the studio and switch off from it all.
Performing is something magical and I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced it in so many different forms. It can also be very exposing and terrifying. In fact I think it gets harder the older you get!
Finally comes the audience appreciation. That’s Pandora’s box in itself. We should never make work to ‘please’ an audience but when we do it’s very gratifying. Then again I have been in work that has got booed… In a strange way that was sort of thrilling too!
So what’s next for you and what’s your biggest dance wish?
Next up is a collaboration between HeadSpace and Arthur Pita. We will perform in Ipswich in the Autumn and hopefully tour next spring. Then I am going on to work with Javier de Frutos on a production of Les Enfants Terribles, an ROH/Barbican co-production. That performs next January.
Biggest dance wish… I would have to say it’s not just about dance for me any more. I’m grateful my body hasn’t given up on me yet, so I’ll keep doing what I do. But I want to keep widening my mode of performance. The most important thing is working with wonderful, inspiring people. New and old, I want the list to keep growing!