Chris' thoughts on The Awakening


Chris shares his experiences choreographing The Awakening and what he has learnt from the whole process.

Chris Pavia and some of the cast of The Awakening, staring moodily into the camera.

Chris Pavia and some of the cast of The Awakening, staring moodily into the camera.

What did I learn from The Awakening?
One of the things that I learnt from creating The Awakening was when I started to work with the team on their solo material I thought about combining them into mini duets, such as when they did the stomp section the others had a lot of input into their movement and I thought learning from them really helped me to get a real boost of excitement.
Then the duets that I did with Tomos and Amy, I learnt how to use different words to describe their movement. Along the way I wanted to challenge them with new lifts because I thought that I could create something new and fresh and see what things that I could take away from that experience.
I’m very happy how well the four members of Sg2 and Amy have done. They learnt some new risky movements that they have never done before and it is great to work with them because The Awakening is just the beginning of something new and it is great to tour this piece over the Summer.

What did I learn from working with Nadenh who uses a wheelchair?
The thing with working with Nadenh is that he picks up the movement so quickly but it takes time to settle in his body because in the main phrase of The Awakening the others really looked at Nadenh’s movement, what he does in his wheelchair. The others can really look at his details and match the movement to their bodies. He also combines really well with Hannah’s movement.
The most important thing I have learnt about working with Nadenh and his wheelchair is that he can take on any challenge that I give him and then he can develop it to make The Awakening come alive.

What did I learn from making a dance outside?
What I learnt from the stomp sequence is how to make sure it is safe for the dancers outside and that they used the space to make it travel around each other. What I also learnt through the process of The Awakening is that the dancers added their input to help me create a better dance piece outside. I noticed this in Guildford when Sg2 and I tested some of the movement out in the courtyard of the University so that we can hear the sounds and the sliding and scratches of their shoes on the ground. Here I learnt that it was ok to share ideas, so Sg2 and Amy had more input on the choreography so that we shared it out within the team. Lucy helped me as well, to learn the material of the stomp sequences so I had the feeling I wanted from the movement, which was a sense of feeling the sun on their faces and glaring out into the space around themselves.

What was it like learning from the Composer and Designer?
I learnt how to work with a composer for The Awakening. I learnt how to get what I wanted from Andy Higgs by showing him where in each section of The Awakening I wanted some interesting new sounds. Just like with Tomos and Amy’s duet there was more breathing and heart beating sounds that gave them the sense of them following their journey.  With Hannah’s solo there were moments when she had to find ways of giving electric shock waves, so the music had a similar feel. I learnt from the composer to build up the tempo with the stomp sequence and it had the edge of sudden movement in between.
And also working and learning from the designer, she had a lot of pictures to show me on the theme of wearing dark and light clothing. And the ideas were great, I like learning from other people. Collaborating with the music composer and designer really helped me a lot and this is something I could work on in the near future.

What did I learn from my Choreographic Coach Lucy?
Lucy was amazing to work with because I can learn a lot from her because Lucy has more experience in working with me. Lucy helped me realise that you can shorten some dance moves that you like and not have to use everything, then start to set the things that you like. And it is good to use post-it notes when you’re choreographing so that you can create yourself a mood board for the whole piece.

It was an honor that The Awakening was taken to the Liberty Festival and the Unlimited Festival at Southbank as well. And also taking it around the UK was just successful and amazing. I’m very proud of my work and the dancers have done so well.
Just want to thank Bradley Hemming for commissioning me for this piece and I’m very happy how it turned out. There are some interesting things that people who watched my new work said. Sg2, Amy, Lucy and Sho have supported me through my work and I’m pleased about it.

More about The Awakening