Photos by jk-photography.
-2018+, created by Alison Curtis-Jones in collaboration with Trinity Laban Centre for Advanced Training dance students, acknowledges the centenary of Armistice Day.
Devised using personal narratives and images of the First World War, dancers questioned the consequences of real and virtual worlds of combat…past, present and future…
Choreography: Alison Curtis-Jones
Music: Hans Zimmer
Costume: Bryony Satchel
Dancers: Trinity Laban Centre for Advanced Training
“I wanted to mark the centenary of the First World War, so I began by talking to our young dance students to gauge their reaction, and I was bowled over by how important they felt it was to acknowledge Armistice Day. It was striking to hear how affected they were by what they understood happened in the First World War, and actually by what is happening now (we began the creative process just after the horrific chemical attack in Douma, Syria, and we were all shocked by this atrocity).
Ideas emerged about how people pull together in times of war and adversity; ideas of working as a team, group cohesion, friendships and togetherness. We discussed the role of women in the War and those left on the home front, notions of survival, power and aggression, and the devastating effects of war on those who experience it. We talked about the First World War and about the men being sent to the front line and living in the trenches.
We looked at images from the First World War, which led us to imagine the sensory experiences; what must it have been like to have your feet buried in the mud? Feet in the earth? Feet travelling across the uneven terrain? How did people cope with the isolation? The heightened sense of threat? So there were lots of multisensory experiences, that we then used to facilitate movement from a choreographic perspective.
There’s also the idea of repetition throughout history.
The First World War came to an end 100 years ago, but history repeats itself in different contexts, as we’ve seen in wars since. So you see this idea in the finished work, in the repetitive movement, representing the way the same problems return over and over again, although they morph and emerge differently.
We talked about going from the hand to hand combat in the First World War to today’s nuclear, chemical, biological and digital wars, and what’s happening now with science and technology; it’s possible to drop a bomb with computer code now. Interestingly – particularly in relation to the age and interests of these young dancers – we talked about addiction to gaming. We discussed the effects of the excessive use of digital gaming warfare and how that can lead to anxiety and isolation; which was experienced at first hand by many soldiers in the First World War.
We wanted to leave the audience with a sense of the soldiers who fought in the First World War: living, breathing, human beings – actual, not virtual, or mediated through a screen. The aim of the work is not to represent the First World War itself, but to represent issues around war in general: not only as they relate to the First World War, but also to the world we live in today. “