Rehearsal Research – Notes on a Residency

Excerpt of ‘Rehearsal Research – Notes on a Residency’
by Sarah Todd
April 2011

Justine Chambers was the only professional dancer and choreographer, participating as ‘Rehearsal Research’ artist in residence. She worked at Western Front, specifically in the Grande Luxe Hall performance space. Continuing a long term preoccupation with architecture, Chambers was interested in engaging directly with the space at the Western Front. Taken with the Western Front’s meandering corridors and unusual floor plan, Chambers developed an interest in the ‘in-between’ spaces – hallways, doorways, staircases and the movement quality dictated by those spaces. Chambers constructed a sculptural structure; a series of wooden door frames, for creating choreography in and around and in relation to. Reminiscent of a rough-hewn minimalist sculpture, the structure recalls the humility of early Yvonne Rainer performance props – two by fours, old mattresses.

This attention to architecture and its relation to the body, work concurrently with another of Chambers’ ongoing research interests, gesture and quotidian movement. Working within the door frame sculpture in the Luxe, with dancer Tiffany Tregarthen, Chambers conducted numerous movement studies, based on the way the body responds to ‘in-between’ space; a kind of unselfconscious performance of twitches, scratches, subtle posture changes and weight shifts. Again, working within the minimalist tradition of Yvonne Rainer, Chambers explores unspectacular movement vocabularies, privileging the every day over the virtuosic dancing body audiences are accustomed to viewing. However, Chambers introduces questions of narrative to this conceptual framework. ‘in-between’ how does a performer use human gesture, without telling a story, without making reference to a something that is recognizable and meaningful in its own right?

Through the duration of the ‘Rehearsal Research’ presentation, Justine Chambers will be working on developing ‘Enters and Exits (working title)’ with dancer Tiffany Tregarthen and lighting designer, James Proudfoot. The rehearsal footage and movement studies will be added daily to the video in the Luxe as a document of the ongoing research and rehearsal process, while the sculpture structure will remain in the space. On the last evening of the ‘Rehearsal Research’ presentation Justine Chambers and Tiffany Tregarthen will perform an in process version of ‘Enters and Exits (working title)’ live.

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