Responses from a series of choreographers
“I have been looking at the stripper / pole dancer as a figure for performance over the last few years. (I have also referred to other figures like the cheerleader, bondage master, etc.) What I have come to call “The Stripper’s Practice” has allowed me to formulate a modus operandi for performance that answers to questions of desire and power relations in performance and spectatorship, and which is also underpinned by the language of economic exchange, as well as gender and sexual politics. As an archetype of performance, stripper / pole dancer is essentially a soloist. Her body and the efficacy of her dance is mirrored back to her by the gaze of her spectators, such that who she is and what she does is less important than what is seen and how she is looked at. A choreographic practice that deals with the visual politics of spectatorship would always need to be in conversation with an ‘outside eye’ (this is the most commonly used moniker for the dramaturge in contemporary performance). The dance that is made to be seen could not possibly be choreographed without someone looking at it. The looking is integral to the choreography. Yet, this ‘outside eye’ is for me more than a person who provides feedback to the artist / performer, or who furnishes historical and contextual information to the artist to aid the latter in their discoveries. Instead, the dramaturge is a companion to the artist’s solitary - oftentimes lonesome - process. They see the artist through, watch over the journey, look back at the artist and speak to them through their gaze. Like Echo watching over Narcissus in the valley, the former does not speak (the artist remains the sole author). Yet, theirs is a relationship underpinned by desire, including the lack thereof. Echo repeats the artist’s utterances back to himself, who however, is only consumed by his own beauty. For me, the artistic work resides in the emergent relationship and space between the stripper and her spectators, Echo and Narcissus, dramaturge and artist/performer. It is the desire that is shared and not shared; things said and not said, seen or sensed, aroused and failed to be aroused that constitute the politics of dance.”
For me a dramaturg is truly a working partner, I believe in their outside “eyes” as well as trust his/her point of view through the process. With my dramaturg I discuss on many levels - to interrogate the framework and continually open avenues of questions and answers, to create multi layered points of view on the work. A dramaturg is a partner that gives me both suggestions and tasks, assisting me to extend and elaborate in the many directions and elements that include choreography, music, scenography etc.
"Dramaturg is the watcher who observes choreographer and the work under creation phase then gives feedback from the different perspectives. So often a choreographer may be unclear with the work or unconcern with some parts of his own work during the creation time. Comments from the dramaturg is important because it can help the choreographer get back to focusing on the right track. Dramaturg is "the third eye" for the choreographer.
“Dramaturgy is a rhythmic practice and it takes place hand in hand with the choreographer as well as the creative team. A dramaturg recognises, connects, and instigates impulses and potentialities. This can take many different forms. It depends on who is working together, where, when, how and why."
"In my opinion the dance dramaturg helps to organize and order, to structure or weave together the performance. To assist the choreographer in a particular way of seeing or looking at movement and gestures, stillnesses and physical distortion. But I feel it’s not always necessary to “know” what you are doing. Simplicity in idea and concept with great performers sometimes leads to stunning performance anyway.”
"I have been working with the same dramaturg Veronica Neave now for 8 years. We met as performers in a self-devised work by Kate Champion, and then went on to nurture our dramaturg/choreographer relationship over many years. It so important to find the right ‘match’. Veronica brings many skills to the table, through her extensive work as an actor, writer and self-devised physical theatre practitioner. She is a sounding board for my process and ideas, carefully giving input and assistance at key points throughout the process. If I ever work with text, I utilise her skills as a writer to layer and craft the original ideas further. A good dramaturg is sensitive to the driving vision of the choreographer, complementing it without attempting to distort or take over the process. I am very lucky to be able to collaborate with such a creative mind as in Veronica Neave."