Brighton-based choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard has built a reputation for creating affecting and visually arresting work for his company including this new piece, This Bright Field, which is in two parts and gradually builds in momentum to become a spectacle of visual and emotional power.
How and where will the work be staged?
This Bright Field will be presented at The Brighton Dome Concert Hall and is conceived in two parts. In part one, the audience enter the theatre in small groups to find themselves on the edge of the stage where they experience 15 minutes of intimate and tender solos and duets that explore touch.
In part two the audience is situated together in the auditorium and everything that has been established in part one is put to the test. Individual dancers move within a series of external conditions, both social and choreographic. The piece gradually builds in momentum to reach an epic scale, so that at one point the cast appears to be made up of hundreds of people. Live drumming and bold costumes also create memorable final scenes.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
In 2013, I was invited to make a work for the larger stage by an organisation called Dance4 and I began researching how I might rethink some of the conventions of dance presented in bigger venues.
I devised a structure where an audience might establish personal connections with the cast by initially situating them close to the action, then using the volume of the auditorium as a gentle provocation. Could the group be seen through the lens of the audience’s individual connections now that they have essentially zoomed out from the action?
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
I believe that mankind has difficulty humanising statistics, as we struggle to grasp scale. The numbers remain abstract while our brains seemingly can’t hold the information.
A group of 'other' people can easily be dehumanised when we fail to recognise the independent lives that make up the group, and the risk is often greater when we add in different belief systems. We might be able to empathise with those on our doorstep, but when the people in question are not in our immediate sphere of experience, it becomes harder.
My work could serve as a reminder to retain a human-scale perception in the world. I went on to consider the large group of performers I was working with, and even the audience themselves. The thinking is included in the way I structured and formed the piece rather than in a theatrical sense.
Why should someone come and see your show?
Because they believe that dance can tap into something instinctive and human that other art forms struggle to touch upon. Also, because they are interested in how live music can radically increase the nature of performance and because they are not shy of work that comes from and speaks to the heart.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
Someone who enjoys films or other artworks that require them to sit forward and figure it out for themselves, who loves to see skilled dancers in a creation that works with, empowers and celebrates their differences. Also, someone who is curious about humankind and how we see the world and believes that contemporary work has a duty to draw upon the world as it is right now.
What’s going to surprise people about this show?
The set-up in two parts, which is unusual in terms of where the audience is situated and what this does to their attention. The considered design that creates numerous distinct worlds on stage and the stirring live music.
What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
As a local, Brighton Festival means great work from around the world right on my doorstep. As an associate at the Dome, I feel I have a base from which to be in dialogue with the extraordinary work that comes through its doors, to be part of a bigger worldwide conversation and celebrate all that unites us with other worlds and contexts. It is necessary now more than ever before.
This Bright Field by Theo Clinkard is on at Brighton Dome on 25 May from 5.10pm