When we first approached plotting the narrative for Between You and Me (BYAM), we knew we wanted to delve deep into Dan and Jess's journey through their life and explore some of the emotions they feel, and have felt, about each other during their time as friends.
Our whole company ethos is to tell a story through movement; to share our voices and feelings without having to verbalise it; to strip down the barriers and show rather than tell. This show proved a challenge at times. The previous works we have devised and performed have all stemmed from an existing stimulus whereas BYAM was our own original idea. Therefore, instead of playing with text to first understand the emotions of the characters and then investigating how they would show it, BYAM was more of an organic process, with all these elements brewing together, informing each other and changing continuously, and sometimes rapidly, when new ideas or thoughts entered the mix.
One thing we always stuck by was this collaborative approach to devising. We didn't want to get stuck down into having a concrete narrative before we started moving, we wanted the choreography to be an integral part in establishing Dan and Jess' pathway through the show. Sometimes this starting point was a word, a snippet of the show summary, a photo or a mash-up of various things. One particular section that displays the weight of the two characters' relationship, and the support Dan is trying to give Jess in her time of need, was created through a writing exercise exploring how we feel about grief; how we support those that don't want support and try to be present in a relationship that is continually pushing you apart.
In this section we wanted to portray how Dan is trying to talk Jess but she keeps dodging him. A recurring motif we played with in the show, is Dan's first movement here. It was inspired by the feeling of not knowing what to say and how we pull that feeling out of ourselves to say something anyway. His voice is continuously blocked by Jess who does not want to discuss her feelings.
We always love to play with weight and release in our choreography and thought those elements would work really well in this section. Dan tries to catch Jess but she dodges, and when he finally starts to comfort her, they mesh together in this uncomfortable and stiff duet.
While a lot of the choreographic elements in the show stem from contemporary and modern dance techniques, we like to weave moments of subtle gesture throughout the sequences. After going back-to-back, Dan reaches for Jess, he pulls it back and then she reciprocates. They connect and for the first moment in the movement they connect, eye to eye, and use that strength to push each other off of the ground.
We hope you enjoy this quick tour through one of our movement sequences and how we manage to start devising through a mixture of techniques. See the full rehearsal video below: