Interview with Artistic Director Kevin Finnan
World Premiere at Surge Festival:
Saturday 25th July, 14.00 & 16.30, Candleriggs Square
Sunday 26th July, 14.00 & 16.30, Candleriggs Square
Fragile sees professional and emerging performers and JCB diggers working together in a breath-taking demonstration of strength and agility. Dancers and construction machinery interact in a poignant celebration of the relationship between movement and emotion.
The world premiere of Fragile by Motionhouse is co-commissioned by Conflux, Merchant City Festival and Gulbenkian, University of Kent, with support support from Creative Scotland, Glasgow City Council, Arts Council England and sponsored by Scot JCB and AB 2000.
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
I began with an idea and objects. I knew I wanted to do a show about city life and the speed of city life, so I then started with the steel cubes, the JCBs, and the dancers, and I knew that those would be the elements of the performance.
Why bring your work to Surge?
We’re developing a very nice partnership with Surge – they’ve been very supportive of our work in the past. Audiences in Glasgow have been very receptive to what we do, and we feel it’s a really good relationship. We’re building on previous successes going forward, so it’s a great way to work and we as a company find it very rewarding. It was really nice that Merchant City Festival, Surge, and everybody involved were prepared to invest in us to develop a larger work, which is great.
What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
The audience can expect to see the different time experiences of being in a city. The way that sometimes the city just moves as a constant stream of luminous motion, while other times it appears to be moving in slow motion. People appear to ricochet off each other, collapse, collide, meet each other – this beautiful dance of urbanisation. The next level of that is the machines that build the city, the buildings that go up, come down, move around, as the city continually rebuilds and evolves itself. We have a movement from chaos to structure, so I think that people will find a very thrilling, emotional, and moving journey of the evolution of cities and humans.
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
The relationship to dramaturgy is very much one of looking at how the nature of what can be a narrative evolves through movement. We’re constantly exploring and developing that. It’s important for me that the audiences feel that there is a followable sense of content and that the show develops its content as it goes along, but we don’t always use a linear or straightforward narrative structure.
What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work - have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
I was educated in the tradition of postmodern dance – a lot of the dance practice coming out of the Judson Church in the United States and release technique. Into that, I’ve absorbed the work of a range of artists who really inspire me. I love the work of theatre director Romeo Castellucci and I’m a huge fan of Robert Lepage, a Canadian director. Movement-wise, there’s a range of people whose work I really admire and like to watch, particularly Wim Vandekeybus and Alain Platel. My major influences physically have been Steve Paxton and contact improvisation, which has always formed the basis, but as we move on we are evolving our own language. What’s very important to us now is that we’re continually developing the relationship between what were traditional dance techniques and what were circus techniques. We’ve absorbed enormous amounts of circus movement into our movement, so we feel that we’re now creating our own, while being aware of and acknowledging everybody around us who we’ve enjoyed being part of this world with.
Do you have a particular process that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
I often work with collaboration and my primary collaboration is with my dancers. I evolve movement with them in a process of mutual exploration and then I will compose from what we have all created together. I like to work in a team of practitioners - our designer and I have worked together for 27 year, the composer and I have worked together for 13 years, some of my dancers have been with me 13 years – we’ve really evolved a long-term practice and I’m very interested in developing an ensemble with its own language and its own way forward.
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
I compose the structure so that it is meaningful, so that the audience has the opportunity to take meaning from it. It’s not a problem if some audience members don’t take exactly the same meaning as others; it’s composed like a painting or a poem to encourage individual interpretation, but I think there is a reasonably clear overarching sense of what the show is about. But I want the work to be spectacular, exciting, and emotional.
Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
I think that’s a much deeper discussion, because actually we have a very complex relationship with dramaturgy as we go forward. I’d need more time than I have now to go over it.