Performance Performance Reviews

Emily Hearts My Rhiannon Faith O'Brien Interview on CDF Blog!

Rhiannon Faith:Dancing Theatre. This up-and-coming company has performed two well-received works at The Place’s Resolution! in 2010 and 2011 with ‘Love Kills‘ and ‘Love my Bones‘, and now they have given us another fantastic piece to remember with ‘Golden Bohemian‘. Rhiannon Faith O’Brien, Artistic Director talks to me about her dance background, being a De Montfort University graduate, what was behind the Golden Bohemian and much much more. Tell me about your dance background. It all started when I was 16, I was in a college which was full of experimentation and interdisciplinary work, and we were introduced to cool dance groups from the start. We met people like Franko B, and the physical theatre company Earthfall came to the college. To start with I didn’t think of myself as dancer, I had done a bit of training but I guess I thought of myself an actor. Throughout the course my teacher was really encouraging and said that I really had natural ability as a dancer and it went from there. There was a lot of input and various creative companies were sharing our space. Then when I went to university it was the same ethos, the same kind of course and it helped carry that understanding of contemporary work. It was all very new, very experimental and it really allowed my imagination to go anywhere it wanted. At University I had much the same experience. I had excellent dance and drama teachers who taught me about practitioners who I might not have otherwise seen. The course engaged me with different types of work, for example European dance theatre and the contemporary scene. Some of it I liked, some of it I didn’t, and from there I formed opinions of what it was that I wanted to do myself as a practitioner. I always wanted to have the opportunity to create my own work and university helped me with that. I did my MA in contemporary dance theatre practice, and I was very lucky to have very inspirational people who guided me. I found who I was and it made me the best that I could possibly be. Who are the practitioners that you’re interested in? Who or what are your inspirations? During the last year of my degree I went to Belgium and I took part in some workshops. De Keersmaeker was a big inspiration, I loved the energy with the dancers, the gestural movement and the way she created the choreography. I learned a lot about Pina Bausch in European Studies and we learned about emotive choreography, about the narratives, how the dancers can speak so much with their bodies. I love how they can have an impact on the emotions of an audience through storytelling. She’s always been a very powerful person for me. Where the idea for the piece come from? In the last couple of years I’ve been working with dancers who  are completely dedicated to everything that I have done, so the idea for this piece came from just working with all of my dancers.  Whatever I have asked of them, they have given me 100% but they are also doing it for free. The reason they’re with me is because we’re like a family. We give each other so much, new ideas and encouragement, we are living through this scene at the moment where it is really hard for them, and it’s hard for me as a choreographer. We put some work on at The Place and the reviews were really cool. You get lucky and you can get gigs where can put your work on, thats really great. Other times you’re asked to change your creative outlook to suit a certain environment and that’s not something I’m cool with.  I want to do what I have the capacity to do and the dancers, they can do everything. Seeing how they were kind of fed up with society, how it was treating them, how hard it is for them just made me push into this idea that they are great. There are so many artists that are around here that are so good at what they do, visual artists, live musicians, actors, dancers. They live this life non-stop. The dancers learn their skills but a lot of time don’t have the opportunities to use them. We thought “fuck it, let’s make our own opportunity. Let’s make our own scene” and that’s where this piece came from. We wanted a renaissance of art, a kind of revolution of thinking that gave people passion, love and happiness. We’ve been rehearsing since November, the dancers have worked really hard to get this together. I only see them once a week because thats all I could afford space-wise. The dancers should be doing this full time, I should be doing this full time and that’s what we are working towards. That’s the journey we are taking together. Let’s make an uprising while we’re doing it. Talk me though your choreographic process for the piece. I know the dancers very well, I asked them to tell me about how they feel. It’s very autobiographical from the dancers point of view. In our rehearsals I create test space work, I do rep with them and we work with a narrative. We’ve always worked with a theme in hand to bring ideas from. For this piece we chose to look at the transition from the golden age of the 1920s to where we are today, and explore the similarities. People in the next decade will look back and they could say “yeah, there was something really cool happening then”. The narrative came from the characters that we started with in the first act. We worked with our knowledge of them and created movement there. The piece starts with a lot of  very gestural and pedestrian movement then moves into something more as they progress through the piece. It’s movement that really works to the music that was happening in the space. The live music and the dancers’ energy combine, and we looked at how that made them feel, particularly outside of rehearsals, and that was brought into the dance. A lot of the creation of the movement came from that passion. It was really important for me during auditions to get people that we knew were into this idea of creating a bohemian scene. I wanted dancers and actors that really liked this type of music. I wanted the passion of the dance and music to come out in the piece when we worked with the live bands and I wanted the dancers and actors to transform. I felt like if they really liked the music it would make the whole process easier. So what’s next? I would love for this to become quite a regular thing. Looking at different spaces, working with different bands. Although for me it’s really about the dance, it’s also recognising that a lot of the artists here are from very different genres of performance. We’re completely merging into this scene, it’s not just dance, it’s the art, it’s the live bands, it’s the actors. The uprising can’t happen in a night, and what is the uprising? It’s about people and artists getting together and saying “yeah, we can do this and we want people to join us and to be with us”. So maybe the future is to have similar nights, working with different narratives, a different theme each time we do it. Then I can start a different journey with the dancers. I just want to put it around as much as we can in London and get people to join us. This is our first event and it has gone pretty well. It was also completely self-funded, so funding is something we would look into for the future. With funding we could look into different spaces, bigger spaces, bigger audiences and add more detail. We have to learn from what has happened in the space tonight and make it even better and bigger. It’s happening.  

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