Friday, 20 April 2012

"CONSTANTLY SURPRISED!" Jack Jones on The Residency.

The residency with Magpie was as much a process of discovery for me as a teacher as it was for them as participants. We weren't quite sure of what to expect and so were obliged into keeping an open mind regarding how the workshops would progress.

One thing that arose during the first day was that it probably would have been useful to have gone through some of the details of leading the Magpie dancers beforehand, as it had been a few weeks since the artist exchange. Things like placing the hand at the back of the neck when looking upward, not pointing with the finger but with the whole hand, small things like this that we don't tend to do out of habit.

On the second day, we divided the group into their families and had a Magpie facilitator in each group. This approach seemed to work very well and sped up the process of creating the piece considerably. It was a great help to have facilitators in each group as we could then go around and take care of the "bigger picture", without the groups loosing their focus. I found that quite a few of the participants became very engaged with the character work, more so than they had been the previous day on some of the more abstract ideas. The group of three girls, who were the Fashion Family, particularly came alive at this point and worked very well together in creating some fun and interesting scenes.

Once we began running sections more than once I was consistantly suprised at how the participants added details every time, constantly fleshing it out and finding new moments to add. This is very much how we tend to work professionaly too, starting with the main landmarks and allowing the details of the scene to evolve with the piece.

One aspect that was of the most use was the live music. It is something I wish we could use elsewhere though I doubt it would be possible. I didn't realise before how useful it can be in not only guiding the participants but also in maintaining focus. The fact that it is live also allows it to be adaptive in a way that recorded music can't, and especially with the character work, gives the participants a feeling and atmosphere to work from.

I very much look forward to finding out how the piece has evolved when I return in June and what details the participants had added to their characters.

Jack Jones, New Adventures Artist

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