As part of the Embedded Journalism project with IJAD dance (which you can read about here), I sat in on a rehearsal for the piece on Wednesday morning. I went to observe and see what I could expect in the final piece, but also to do some sketching so as to understand the direction of the movements.
Wednesday was probably the rainiest day in the history of the British Isles, so by the time I arrived at the dance studios nearish to Finsbury Park, I was a little bit drenched, lost and cold.
I entered the studio and even with the windows open and the sound of the rain pouring down outside, I was pretty blown away by the contrast of the energy in the studio to the miserable weather. I had expected to find dancers stiffly going through motions near a bar, and was shocked to find that everything felt so free-flowing and energetic.
This was an interesting session to sketch, as no one stays still for long. The dancers and Joumana have a great repertoire with each other (they are so friendly and kind), and are lively and creative. Their warm up was fun, interesting to watch, and it was a neat show of some of the Arabic roots of the dance ideals. At the risk of sounding a bit weird, I loved the dancers wearing hooded sweatshirts as it made the entire rehearsal feel very approachable. There was also something rather pretty about when they bent down for stretches and warm ups and had their heads covered by the hoods; it added another interesting visual for sketching.
I got to watch them work at creating their pieces, and it was so interesting to see how initial ideas formed themselves into beautiful sequences of choreography. There’s something with a juggler that I love, and can’t wait to see how it comes out in the final performance.
I found it very interesting that I had brought with me an array of colours and mediums to sketch with, and even though the dancers were (almost) all dressed in blues and greys, and the world outside was a damp mess of similar colours, I kept reaching for my reds, oranges, and browns to try to capture the essence that I felt from their energy.
It was also an interesting experience for me, as normally I’m very very shy about sketching in public – it’s been years since I’ve done it, and boy am I rusty! The dancers were very friendly and curious and asked to see the sketches as I was going, which was a bit terrifying until I remembered that they were generously letting me see them warm up, and create, and make mistakes and surely I could afford to them the same courtesy. We were both doing the same thing at once, just using different media. It was very sweet when they recognised themselves in the sketches, and was a nice way for me to step outside of my comfort zone.
The show is going to be lively, warm, and energetic if this rehearsal was anything to go by – I can’t wait to see it!