Number One

Yesterday marked the first official rehearsal for Shakespeare Unchained. Our beautiful performer Jess Ames was in studio with Kara and I for the very first time.

The day started with a group warm-up that both myself and Kara learned while studying together under movement teacher David MacMurray Smith. It is a simple warm-up, but not easy. It’s basically a crazy game of follow the leader. Impulse after impulse we followed ourselves and each other into different movements and scenarios. Leading this particular exercise I was glad to see that my fellow movers were so open and willing to go wherever we allowed ourselves to go. The structure of the warm-up  is one that is extremely open- something many people are afraid of. Expressing any image, feeling, though, inexplicable impulse in your body is revealing. Having worked with Kara before, I had no idea what to expect from Jess… and I was very pleasantly surprised. She was open and responsive- the only thing the three of us had to keep note of was our sense of humour. Sometimes the image was so funny we would almost break out of it to experience it from inside our regular selves- to laugh. The free-flow of images that arrived into were transmitted into play when we found ourselves as children, old men, anything and everything and nothing in particular.

We then moved on to a blindfold exercise that Kara had garnered from somewhere (Jess had done something similar she said, I think in New York.) As Jess was the performer with her two directors (loose terms in a collaborative piece), she was the one blindfolded. In the first exercise we could do “whatever we wanted to her.” She was our human puppet. Something I had inhibitions about after reading about a performance artist that placed a lot of objects in front of her including a gun and said “You can do whatever you want to me, and I won’t react.” People were kind in the beginning and later wound up pricking rose thorns in her and pointing the gun at her. In our exercise nothing of the sort obviously happened. (No Jess’s were harmed during the making of this production.)

We then moved on to 15 minutes of Jess doing whatever SHE wanted while blindfolded. We played her some music and made sure she didn’t bash into any corners and were on our way. The next hour was filled with text analysis of one of Lady M’s monologues (which we will not give away…you’ll just have to guess.)

As the beauty of the words was transmitted to the beauty of body and choreography, the first legs of our show were erected. These were the seeds of what will grow into something much much bigger than all of us. It all started with 3 girls in a little studio in East Van. How fitting…

Double, double, toil and trouble.

Double, double, toil and trouble. Julia and Jess photo by: Kara Nolte

Jess

Jess trained at Arts Umbrella Professional Training Program, danced as an apprentice for Noord Nederlandse Dans, in Groningen, The Netherlands, The Response with Amber Funk Barton and Body Narratives Collective with Meghan Goodman and Julia Carr in Vancouver and she is thrilled to be performing in “Shakespeare Unchained.”
Photo Credit: Trae Jaxen

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