Cairo Residency: part 1

Read Christian's day-by-day record of the workshop residency the team led out in Cairo...

One of the most enjoyable aspects of working with Stopgap is that we are forever meeting new, interesting people all the time with so many experiences and skills to offer. Cairo for sure is no exception to this. We were greeted with kindness and generosity both in and outside of the studio, we have only been here a day and have been so well looked after. It is a real pleasure to be in such a beautiful city alongside eager and creative artists. We spent much of our first day exploring and getting to know one another through simple interactions and gestures to more intricate and dynamic duets. It is very interesting to work with the language barrier. Although we do not speak the same language, once we start moving, all is understood. This mutual ability to understand one another is a joy to witness; words are not always necessary.

Another inspiring day in Cairo! We had a very creative day today, working on exploring ideas from the improvisations that we did on day 1. The gym was buzzing with creativity and it was great to see the personalities of the dancers in the project come out. In particular it was beautiful to see them build in confidence as they performed their solo dream task, taking ownership of their movement. I feel that we all begin to understand each other more as the days go on and we discover new ways to work together.

I had the privilege of being able to teach class today. It was fantastic to see the energy build in the room and for everyone to move together. This was an 'I know exactly why I love dance so much' day. We improvised based on finding an internal rhythm in the body and breaking speed patterns. The whole group really threw themselves into this task, fully engaging, taking risks and surprising themselves. I couldn't resist so I had to jump in and have a dance with them as we moved across the space. In the past when teaching, I have said to myself 'you must stick to the plan'. Whereas I truly believe now that best and by far the most enriching way is to respond to the individuals in the room; feeding off them, their creativity and passion. From one task, making a decision in the moment to perhaps change an idea or add a layer can bring about so many beautiful moments and 'happy accidents'. I know that now I feel super excited about the prospect of anything can happen. I also had the chance to observe the group work together this afternoon and it was a joy to watch. I feel that they have gelled together so quickly and they are responding to each other in such a way that brings a new found sensitivity to their work.

We spent a lot of this next day constructing sections of the work and piecing together each of the sequences we have made over the past few days. The development of the material has been great to watch; it has come on a real journey since the first day. Each time the dancers perform, the richness, textures and sensitivity between them grows and their passion is clear. The commitment to the process is always what makes a piece of work so much more and I think that in time, even though we have to leave before the performance, the dancers will take charge and allow their personalities to shine through.

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