We're coming up to half way through rehearsals at Tate Britain, making a whole new version of Men & Girls Dance for gallery spaces, which will open to the public in a week's time. This is the first time we've reimagined the content of the performance - which we usually show in theatres or studio spaces - for a different setting. We're faced with a whole set of new questions: about time and duration; about the relationship with the visitors to the space; about terminology (visitors rather than audiences); about the conversation that opens up between the historic artworks at Tate, and the choreographic imagery in the performance, and more, so much more.
It's thrilling, it's baffling, it's exhausting, it's exhilarating, it's distracting (rehearsing in a gallery: there's so much stuff that I want to look at). It's so familiar, and so new. So many new possibilities. So much to discover. There's so much intimacy (the visitors are so close). There's so much joy (the dancers are so close). There's so much to bear in mind (all those visitors, they're so close... so very close... in fact they're standing in the very place I'm supposed to dance, looking at that painting; have they even seen me?).
As in the theatre version, half the material is carefully placed choreography, half is improvised. New relationships blossom. Between these girls and these men (who have been working together for 4 months now). Between the performers and the visitors. Between Tate Britain's extraordinary art collection and epic architecture, and the fifteen empathetic, sensitive, fragile, dynamic human bodies that dance through this work.
New possibilities. New relationships. New ideas. New challenges. New opportunities. New politics. New hope.
Two weeks into the process. One week to go, then... we're off. Yet again this project takes us back to the beginning, to send us off on another journey of discovery. It's a familiar, new, and really exciting place to be.