Interview with Colette Sadler: Part 1

Interview with Colette Sadler: Part 1

During her week-long residency at iC4C we spoke to choreographer Colette Sadler as she and her team were preparing for the premier of 'Learning from the future' at Sophiensaele, Berlin. By our Programme Intern, Kenny Ho.

Can you tell us some more about the work?

I started this work at the end of 2015 in a residency at TanzHaus Zürich and at the time I was thinking about or looking at a historical ballet 'Les Noces' (The Wedding) by the Russian choreographer Bronislava Nijinska. It was a modernist ballet, a so-called feminist or proto feminist ballet, and I had been interested in that work for some years.

I started to play around with notions of interacting with her or having a conversation with her, so I came up with the idea that I would have to somehow be metaphorically dead to speak to her. If I was dead our conversation would be in the future and in this future we would both be bodiless. We would be talking about choreography in the future from the perspective of not having a body, so that was the premise for the piece . The title Learning from the Future was about that conversation, but that disappeared out of the work and it then came back to the body, to a fictional and post human futuristic body, called 'BODY A' danced by Leah Marojevic.


I have been working over the past years on larger scale group pieces. For a number of reasons both practical and non-practical, this piece started out as a solo for myself. I decided to focus on a smaller production and involve different collaborators in this work than I had previously been involved with: it was like cleaning the table of the past and starting again.

You spoke about cleaning the table and working with new collaborators, can you tell us more about them?

I started in Zürich with an artist who worked with me originally as a dancer, Assaf Hochman, who then became the artistic adviser and dramaturge. We together worked through the concept for the piece. So before anyone was involved we looked at my work and what I had been doing for the past 10 years, looking at the ideas or different strategies for the presentation of the work. There’s a whole multi disciplinary aspect to what I do, it’s sitting between dance and visual arts or gallery space and performance space, its always a bit in between spaces so we were looking at how I could incorporate the dance with a particular visual aesthetic. That was the first thing that happened.

Samuli Laine, the lighting designer was the first person I contacted regarding the work itself. I have always worked with light but never in a conceptual way, it was more about lighting whatever was there and it wasn’t important. I had focused a lot on a certain relationship between objects and bodies and had even gone as far as having a big set for my last piece, at which point I realised the work is not about a certain kind of scenography. So the light was a way to describe space without having objects in them and to create a certain notion of space, or a certain notion of fiction. I have often worked with everyday life settings but this work is about not being in real time and space. In this piece I wanted to create that, it felt like the light was going to be a way in which I could realise that.

Then I started another conversation, I seem to spend a lot of time talking (laughter), well its just because I feel like that’s a way of working, in a sense you are always hoping for someone who is interested and can bring something to the table. Its not just hello, can you make me something that looks like this, that’s certainly one way of working but one is always hoping the person is going to bring their own perspective. So I started talking to Mikko Gaestel who is a video artist, and from the idea of text we moved away to the idea of projection. He is doing the video projection for the work.

The dance was made with and by Leah Marojevic. I am directing it but I am looking for people who can respond to concepts and work within a conceptual frame. It’s a bit more fluid. Another collaborator, the musician Brendan Dougherty made a score for this piece and has worked with me in several other works, it is an electronic sound score. We are working very much in a studio setting with a dancer and with the music. So then obviously this video is coming and this light is coming in, its very different for atmosphere and a very different environment for that movement and for that sound. So that’s what we are doing this week, just trying to bring together those different elements. 

What kind of choreographic process do you go through?

The second part of this interview, including Colette's response to this question, is coming soon...

Learning from the Future will be at Nottingham Contemporary on Friday 29 September 7.30PM.

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