Saturday, 25 February 2017

Day Five: The Performance

There was a great feeling at last night's event. All the showcased projects were unique and surprising in their own way. We had the whole evening to enjoy the atmosphere and entertainment before rushing backstage to get ready to end the night.

While CoLab is about the process more than the performance, we were really excited to see the impact the performance would have on our collaboration and our confidence. A positive audience reaction would be a bonus too!

The performance was a lot of fun and a success. I felt that everyone communicated well with each other and the audience. Some could argue that our project was too much like a traditional orchestra to be collaborative, however the musicians let go of their inhibitions and whole heartedly performed alongside the dancers. The collaborative nature of the project made us all aware of the audience and aspects of the performance other than the music. I believe we created a visually striking, powerful performance of the beautifully theatrical piece. 

Personally, it challenged me to think about my performance and be brave enough to physically communicate with the audience, dancers and other musicians. We pushed the capabilities of our orchestral set up without compromising the music. Memorising our march allowed us to move with the dancers and, despite the principal clarinet having a slight bump in the darkness of the wings, it was effective, musical and in the spirit of La Strada. 

We came into the performance with a nervous excitement and left as a strong team with smiles all round!

Heartfelt expression

Friday, 24 February 2017

Day Five: The Final Day of the La Strada Orchestra with Uncommon Movers

Today is the day!

1pm - 3pm Tech Rehearsal at Laban
7.30pm Spaghetti Southern Night at Laban (La Strada at 9.15pm)

We all met at the Laban building's Bonnie Bird Theatre for a tech rehearsal. This mainly consisted of the dancers blocking the choreography and the musicians discussing lighting. There were a few occasions where we were in total darkness! Unfortunately we were pushed for time, and brushed over details we would've otherwise rehearsed. In between blocking from the dancers and questions from the lighting team, we went over the more difficult sections of the piece.
Although rushed, having a final run through gave us all more confidence before tonight's performance. The theatre was in high demand today and we were dismissed to prepare on our own and watch other CoLab projects!
My view in the Bonnie Bird Theatre, Laban

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Day Four: The End of Rehearsals

11am - 1pm Full Rehearsal at Blackheath Halls
3.30pm - 7.30pm Full Dress Rehearsal in the space at Laban

After spending a while experimenting yesterday, we still had more of the piece to go.
The morning was a great opportunity to collaborate with the dancers and add finishing touches to the piece. This included a dancer 'tightrope' walking across the woodwind section which comes from the fool's circus act in the film. The comical moment gave us an opportunity to interact with the dancers as well as surprising tomorrow's audience!

The piece ends full of sorrow and despair, just like the movie. Both characters who connect with the main emotive violin/trumpet scene have died and our choreography of this section reflects this grief. Here is a video of the first rehearsal of this section, it is a solemn and unexpected end. 

After a final run we headed to the Laban building for a rehearsal in the Bonnie Bird Theatre. A long lunch break gave us enough time to try out tomorrow's costumes!

This rehearsal was a productive and necessary run through, especially for the dancers and those of us in the orchestra who are moving around the space. 
There were some issues when three dancers, the principal clarinet player, the tuba player and myself were marching across the space. It was difficult for the dancers to move as they wanted and keep the music in the limited light. When we got to the wings it was too dark to see our music and a post with lights on was in the way. Rather the risk a damaged instrument (or nose!) I spoke to the dancers and technicians. It wasn't possible to put a light in the wings but we moved the post a little and decided the dancers were to guide us a little more while we played. I spent this afternoon memorising this section so it should go smoothly tomorrow! 

surprise from the cello section!
We added a few smaller details, including a piccolo solo from the string section and a slightly simplified tightrope walk. 

'tightrope walk'

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Day Three: La Strada rehearsals

10am - 1pm General Rehearsal
2pm - 5pm Dancers join musicians

We moved onto the second half of the piece today, with a rehearsal structured like yesterday. The second half has fewer opportunities for comedy, reflecting the sorrowful end to the film. However we continued with the idea of the dancers as circus performers. Using our chairs, one dancer 'tightrope walked' across the wind section while we all looked worried and surprised! It was unusual but suited the section of the music and kept it very interesting.

A change of pace provided an opportunity for expressive dance within the orchestra. It led to a greater amount of expression from the musicians which was captured by the dancers. Collaboration is often strongest when it involves very little discussion.

The above video shows a moment where the orchestra uses movement to create suspense and enhance the mood of the music. Woodwind soloists move with dancers while the strings are circling. They play an emotive melody in an unusual place. The soloists project towards a single dancer, isolating the audience and reflecting the film's themes of loss and solitude. Some members of the group found this move away from the conformities of an orchestra a challenge, feeling self conscious and unsure. However a whole orchestra moving together was extremely effective and we felt it enhanced the music.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Day Two: Circus March in La Strada rehearsals

10am - 1pm General Rehearsal
2pm - 5pm Dancers join musicians

This morning began with a normal orchestral rehearsal, focussing on details in the first half of the piece. We also discussed the film - what words and themes stood out to us. This will influence our performance and gave us a better understanding of the piece.
While this morning consisted of an enjoyable and necessary rehearsal, the real collaborating started in the afternoon...

We wanted to integrate the dancers into the orchestra from the very start, they joined us on our chairs and around the various sections. A unexpected start to the piece, but it suited the comical nature.

In the film there is a marching band advertising the circus. It seemed like a natural move to include that in our performance. Myself (first flute) and the first clarinet play the quirky melody with an um cha tuba accompaniment. The three of us march through the orchestra and, instead of memorising, we use the dancers to carry the music. Working with dancers to suit the music and space was a challenge however they enhance the humorous march with exaggerated movement and guide us through the space. The strings vamp the following section so we can return to our seats for the next melody.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Day One: Colab begins with a bang!

...well it started with a brass fanfare but you get the idea.

10am - 1pm General Rehearsals
2pm - 3.30pm General Rehearsal (George Jackson to observe)
3.30. - 5.30pm Watch Fellini's La Strada

Today was a general rehearsal for the orchestra. We played through sections of the music, went over difficulties and got used to working together. 

In the next few days we will work with dancers and go into greater detail. This rehearsal was just about exploring the beautiful cinematic work that was new to all of us.

At the end of the afternoon we turned our rehearsal space into a makeshift cinema. Watching the 1954 movie (with subtitles!) on a projector screen. Tomorrow we will discuss the film, themes and music in more detail. The overacting and miming of playing the instruments might have got a view laughs from both dancers and musicians, but the heartbreaking ending and emotional trumpet theme struck all of us. See my first post for more about the film.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Project: Nino Rota's La Strada Suite with Uncommon Movers

We will be creating a musical and visual piece using Nino Rota's La Strada Suite.
As a flute player, I will be part of the orchestra. We will work with dancers to use movement and space to enhance the music and evoke themes expressed in the film. 

The film

Federico Fellini's La Strada is an oscar winning 1954 Italian drama, set in a poor, postwar rural Italy. Zampano, a travelling sideshow strongman buys the innocent and unusual Gelsomina from her mother. Zampano is a cruel and abusive companion, teaching her the snare drum, trumpet and how to be his assistant.

As well as the trumpet, the violin features heavily in the film. It is played by the unfortunate fool, whose heartbreaking melody is a major theme of the suite.
Questions of morality, purpose and love persist throughout the film, leaving a tragic end against the backdrop of the circus.

The Composer

Nino Rota (1911 - 1979)

Nino Rota was an Italian musician, who became a child prodigy. He ventured into many styles of music and was known as both a composer and conductor.
Starting in the early 1940s, Fellini was the first director Rota worked with. Rota  had a series of successes in film music, receiving an Oscar for Best Original Score for The Godfather II. ), King Vidor, René Clément, Edward Dmytrik and Eduardo de Filippo. Additionally, he composed the music for many theatre productions by Visconti, Zefirelli and de Filippo.

The Performance: Dance Jam during CoLab's Spaghetti Southern Night

Friday 24th February, Laban Building, Creekside. 7pm
More information/tickets - Italian Night

Saturday, 18 February 2017

La Strada

The Participants

Project Leader – Nic Pendlebury
Conductor – George Jackson
Dance Mentor - Rebecca Stancliffe

Uncommon Movers (dancers):
Aine Ashby
Charlotte Eaton
Chelsey Celecia
Dominique Baker
Jacob Roberts
Krystal Campbell
Lucy Pugh
Mathie Douchy

Amelie Von Wurttemberg
Aura Fazio
Gabriela Zukowicz
Hajnal Miklossy
Iryna Glyebova
Isabella Fleming
Karolina Jaszewska
Katarzyna Franczak
Laura Hampe
Megan Bishop
Natasha Kenealy
Ragnhild Rivertz
Siobhan McCafferty

Irene Katsenelson
Jamie-Lee Glinsman
Julianna Traicoff
Yee Sin

Charlotte Lincoln
Jenny Sturt
Theodore Balkwill

Double Bass:
Alexander Verster
Lewis Reid

Jessamy Robinson
Kwok Chan
Abi Fletcher (Piccolo)

Alice Cartledge
Emily Heldreich
Isabel Kent (Cor Anglais)

Louise Chappell
Liliana Luongo
Aimee Walton (Bass)

Dan Bosinceanu
Deanna Greenwood

French Horns:
Freya Gillon
Christopher Collins
Rachel Moisan

Marcis Runka
Natalie Mellers
Connor Smither

Nic Jones
Hebe Raval
Anna Brown (Bass)

Hanna Mbuya

Iyad Alsughair

Lucia Stone

George Pertwee