Earlier in the year I was invited to join the Aim to Fly development team as their Dance Specialist. So what did that mean? It means that when Aim to Fly has their first production I will be cast mainly as a dancer but also that during the developmental process I will be leading dance workshops for the cast.
On October 30th and 31st Aim to Fly held their first intensive. The aim of the two day intensive was to all get to know each other, work out our apparatus and culminate some ideas for a work/show. So who was there? We wee incredibly lucky to be joined by Serenity Forchion founder of New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA). Time with Serenity is invaluable, we were extremely lucky as she is rarely in the UK and she is so knowledgable, so time with her is like gold! Joining myself, Serenity and Mel ( founder of Aim to Fly) there was Leona, Leah, Thom, Dayna, Soul and Kaiya. We are a mix of disabled and able bodied performers with a variety skills and experience so we all had a lot to learn from each other.
On the Thursday I held a dance/ yoga esque warm up for the group before we started working on the apparatus. It was great to see the adaptations people made to make the moves fit their bodies if they had particular restrictions. Everyone embraced what I did as it was a little different to the general warm up normally held before class. We then worked our way around each apparatus and explored them how we could, it was a great way to try new apparatus too. We used silks, sling/ cocoon, trapeze, hoop, and a higher hoop. My experience mainly lies with aerial silks so it was great to work on other apparatus… I spent a lot of time on the trapeze. My word my hand hurt A LOT afterwards. After our aerial exploration we moved over to another studio where I led a contact improvisation session. It was very well received considering it was new to everyone. We tried a 15-20 minute improv to see how it would be received and then followed it by a 20 minute improv but with our eyes closed. Closing your eyes increases your need for spacial awareness and to be able to listen your body as well as everyone else’s. It also meant that those who were a little more self conscious of moving like this, didn’t have to worry or engage with the idea of others watching them. It was great though, it encouraged trust within the group and we decided that it would be used between elements on the apparatus.
Thursday was a BIG day for everyone but very educational ready for knuckling down Friday. The Friday panned out in a similar way to Thursday, a mixture of aerial work and dance. We chose a single apparatus to work on for the piece. The idea is that we each select an apparatus and start in/on the chosen apparatus and each person in turn will perform a piece. This will then lead into a blindfolded structured contact improv to finish in a huddle lifting a group member as high as we possibly can whilst remaining safe.
Throughout the process we had cameras set up to collect working studio footage and discussions we had along the process. I will be taking a look at this footage and editing together a film for Aim to Fly as a means to introduce us to a public audience. So watch out for that in the coming weeks!