What happens when you can’t do it? That’s where the dance is. What is revealed when you can’t do it?
– Deborah Hay
Deborah Hay is one of the world’s most enigmatic and influential dance practitioners, and was a member of a group of experimental artists that was deeply influenced by Merce Cunningham and John Cage. The group, later known as the Judson Dance Theater, became one of the most radical and explosive 20th century art movements.
Deborah Hay’s Solo Performance Commissioning Project invites 20 movement artists to learn a new solo by Hay during a 10-day intensive in Findhorn, Scotland. The work involves practicing and ‘performing’ a set of complex and unanswerable questions or ‘tools for the dancer’ that are part of a highly developed structure. Each artist is also given license to adapt the work as Hay believes it needs the dancer’s “choreographic intervention” or “taste”. She asks, “Does your creativity exist without your intervention? Can it reveal itself to you if you stay out of the making?”
The 20 artists are then required to practice the solo every day for at least 12 weeks before premièring their individual adaptations of the project. The artists are also required to seek financial support in order to pay the commissioning fee, and are not allowed to pay for the commission themselves.
This is my adaptation of Deborah Hay’s I Think Not. I don’t think my creativity revealed itself to me without my intervention but, like many of Hay’s questions, perhaps it is simply asking the question that makes possible the smallest of changes in how we understand ourselves, others and the world in which we move.
Première: 24 February 2012, Roehampton Dance, London
Choreography: Deborah Hay
Performance, Adaptation & Script: Simon Ellis
Music: Igor Stravinsky
R&D Blog: spcp2011notes.wordpress.com
Images: Eulanda Shead Photography