Art is a powerful tool to turn the world upside down and see it from a new perspective, to allow conversations, to break down normal conventions and to convey messages without being direct and explicit. Katie Dale-Everett Dance are passionate about creating works that facilitate shared group learning, whilst also allowing space for individual ownership and unique journeys. Presenting to audiences therefore is becoming increasingly important to us within our development stages.
The company have just finished a research and development period for our latest Arts Council England National Lottery funded work and expanded project Virtual You. Made for secondary schools, this project brings into question and conversation how we utilise social media and how we think about and use our online presence. Audiences have included youth groups, schools, young adults with learning disabilities, adults and programmers, presenting the work within various contexts including The Point Associate Night, Motus’s Approaches 11.19, within schools timetabling, Dance Woking’s Introducing Platform & closed booked performances.
A big question for the company around presenting works in schools (with this being our first show for this context) was how to ensure high levels of engagement, enjoyment for all students, clear messaging & learning around potential scenarios young people might find themselves online in but also the opportunity for the work to remain open enough to give young people the voice to discuss the themes of the work in a way that empowered them to speak about what was important to them about online activity. We therefore made the decision to include whole audience interaction in Menu 2: How Far Would you go to be liked?
The top 10 things we have learnt about including interaction within performances so far through presenting to audiences are:
- It allows us to put our audience in a position of responsibility that has real time consequences. Audience can see the emotional and physical affect of their actions right in front of them.
- Once involved, it allows us dramaturgically to manipulate audience thinking about what is happening in a scenario. Within this piece we are interested in taking our audiences from a place of fun, play, naivety to somewhere more sinister and enjoy the simile of this process to reflect hidden meaning that can occur online.
- It breaks down the fourth wall between audience and performer allowing stronger and more immediate communication post performance and during outreach.
- Moments of interaction have for the majority of audiences been the most poignant and memorable moments.
- The need to have methodologies to encourage less immediately willing audiences to get involved whilst staying within the world of the work.
- The responsibility to develop boundaries for performers to keep them safe within unpredictable interaction.
- It gives us a way in to discuss choices, control and communication.
- That space is needed to allow audiences to converse and encourage each other. Choreographic consideration around this is therefore needed.
- No audience is ever the same, multiple formulas are needed to ensure clarity of instruction.
- That it is a lot of fun for both performer, choreographer and observers and creates space for the unexpected to happen.