Tell us about Emergence. What is the company all about?
Emergence is the brand-new postgraduate dance company of the University of Salford, in partnership with Joss Arnott Dance. Created to provide students with the opportunity to work with renowned choreographers and embark on a national tour, alongside continued dance training, incorporating teaching and producing skills. The company is made up of 12 highly skilled and talented young dancers from all over the UK (plus New Zealand, Cyprus and Italy). Since it’s inception in July of last year, the group have taken part in a 6 week creation process with Sharon Watson, and thereafter have created and rehearsed with Joss Arnott, until now where the tour begins…
This will be your first tour. What are you most looking forward to?
It will be exciting to get ourselves out there in the real world! Making connections and having the experience of touring across the country will be invaluable to each of us in our careers moving forwards. Raising the profile of Emergence is an exciting prospect for us, and for our Artistic Director, Joss. One of the most exciting things about performing is seeing all the costume, lighting and theatre atmosphere bring the dancing we’ve been perfecting in the studio to life. There’s real unity in both the pieces we present and its great to have a shared experience on stage with our fellow company members. What’s great is that the dancing and performance continue to grow as we rehearse and perform, and this is such a rewarding journey.
Tell us about the production. What can we expect to see on stage?
In And Still I Walk, the dancers take the audience on a journey, representing the continued journey that mankind perpetuates in the pursuance of justice. There are many female relationships presented: from sisters, to daughters, to friends, to enemies- those with love and empathy, and those with tension and anger. Existing music selected for its cinematic and emotional capacities by Hans Zimmer and Max Richter creates a strong atmosphere on stage, alongside lighting. There is also a simple set made from a piece of wire fencing that is suspended by ropes. This symbolic set piece creates a divide that is both see through but impossible to get through. The piece has been made for 6 dancers, however the whole company have made the piece together and the cast members will rotate on tour.
When Worlds Collide is very much driven by the musical score, the music by James Keane has a cinematic in feel, giving Joss’ work an epic feeling. Keane’s music also contains quieter moments using heartbeat rhythms to bring an added dimension of emotion to the work. This technical masterclass of a piece lacks nothing in passion and drive in its delivery, and the group creates a strong ‘pack’ with a deep sense of unity and empowerment evident throughout. The sci-fi inspired lighting design by Josh Tomalin adds to the feeling that the audience have entered our world, and highlights the atmosphere created by the movement and music.
How was the process of creating works with the choreographers – Joss Arnott and Sharon Watson?
Choreographer Sharon Watson’s piece: And Still I Walk took its original inspiration from the women’s suffrage movement. However, as the work began to materialise, themes of continued plight and the struggle to get one’s voice heard started to come out. The costumes were inspired by a trip the company took to the People’s Museum in Manchester, where they went to research the women’s suffrage movement.
Artistic Director of the company, Joss Arnott choreographed the second piece: When Worlds Collide. He begins by teaching the dancers his technique, so they can get used to his style before they start to make the work. Joss’s process is very collaborative, using the dancers’ strengths to create movement phrases. Joss works with composer James Keane to create the music he wants for the piece before starting work with the dancers.
What do you hope the audience will take away from seeing the production?
I would say that both pieces take the audience to another place. And Still I Walk encapsulates an emotional and never-ending journey of all women, the relationships and the plight contained will be sure to get the audience thinking about issues faced by women throughout history and today. Joss’ piece truly draws the audience in, and the whole experience of the lighting, music, and impressive movement is undeniably captivating for all the senses.