Entering ArtisTree is like going into a different world – this week, NDCWales will take you into a frozen land and the world of paintings through dance with two new works: Tundra and Revellers’ Mass. Though distinct in style, both are visually arresting with original choreography, stunning costumes and spectacular stage effects. Here, choreographers Caroline Finn and Marcos Morau tell us all about the double bill.
Blending new and old is Tundra by Marcos Morau, who recreates the icy world of the tundra region using a variety of theatrical elements. The costumes, though modern in design, feature traditional patchwork from the area. “They are a collection of patterns, prints, fabrics and shapes that come from different styles, times and places,” says Morau. Likewise, the soundtrack combines traditional Russian folk and modern music, with sound effects and ambient noise to evoke the cold, uninhabitable landscape of tundra.
For the dance itself, Morau has taken elements of traditional Russian folk dance and contemporary dance. Featuring eight dancers dancing in a line, with some of the movement in sync and some in canon, such choreography requires absolute precision, which takes rigorous rehearsal and concentration. “Each dancer has a very particular set of counts which they must memorise, and their position makes it even more difficult since they can’t watch others to keep time,” says Morau. “It is the challenging nature of the choreography that also makes it the most pleasing to watch and for many of our dancers, enjoyable to learn.”
When Art Meets Dance
You may get a sense of familiarity as you delve into the world of Revellers’ Mass by resident choreographer Caroline Finn, who took inspiration from historical paintings and sculptures. “I connect to the stories, drama and mysterious characters that Baroque and Renaissance paintings portray,” she says. “At the same time, I’m fascinated by how people behave when they come together to worship, pray or celebrate – the smells and sounds; the extremes of stillness and reverence to frenzied revelry and joy.”
Exploring the themes of ritual, ceremony and etiquette, Revellers’ Mass brings famous religious paintings to life with dancers creating fleeting images while interacting with the set elements. The scene is set by a reference to The Last Supper, with mannequins and dancers dressed in dark, glittering costumes posing and dancing around a long altar. “Through the set, light and costumes, we wanted to create a sense of timelessness, a fusion between the ancient and the contemporary; traditional and pagan,” says Finn.
Watch ‘Em Dance
Besides the performances, NDCWales is also hosting a range of workshops, including a Watch Dance Class. “Audiences can observe dancers preparing for the performances – something that is usually hidden from view,” says Finn. During the session, not only are you able to watch them practise and get ready for a show, but you can also photograph, record or sketch them. “It’s a great opportunity for artists and photographers to expand their portfolio,” she adds. “And audiences are usually given the chance to ask any questions they might have about the work and life as a dancer.”
ARTISTREE SELECTS: MOVING PIECES
8 August-28 September 2019
Find out more about National Dance Company Wales here.