The Making of Princess as seen by Felicity Cormack

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Dreams by Felicity Cormack

Thinking, planning, writing, stretching, leaping, vocalising, dressing in disguise, exploring hearts, thoughts, histories…

All this was scrutinised by my pencils, pens and charcoal resulting in over 300 drawings in parallel to the dancer’s invention.

9-5 every day for 3 weeks

Concentration, carefulness, esteem, humour, focus and anxiety was there, but always a belief in the way it would come together at the end, once the main structures were in place.

Princess by Felicity Cormack

Princess by Felicity Cormack

I was not so much watching as participating in the history of the production, letting my tools join in the dance, letting them go on the paper not worrying about the result believing that though it was difficult somehow I would manage to get something down that would have just the feeling of Princess’s meaning. Sometimes an accurate drawing of a stiller moment, sometimes just an impression of the glorious skill of the trained dancer’s bodies as they moved easily around the studio in all kinds of moods and shapes.

It went something like this:

Week One

  • Luke sets a piece to be learnt which features in the microphone section.
  • Luke sets projects for 3 dancers to suggest the computer in the relationship.
  • Tasks: speaking whilst moving.
  • Dancing on eggshells (plastic cups).
  • Improvisations whilst warming up – Ashley’s proud prince dance from this.
  • Tangled relationships in the form of intricate moves for 3.
  • Props: cloak, crown, wedding dress, frog, mirror, unicorn head…
  • Mary’s cloaked dance through the forest.
  • Charlotte’s verbal dexterity.
  • Acrobatics that are lovely to see but don’t survive into the show.
  • Monologues that are written and then rewritten, becoming the prince’s ‘happy ever after’
  • Hair: up down up down.
  • The things that happen – Mary’s changing under the cloak that becomes a reference to a pantomime horse.

Week Two

  • Remembering week one perfectly!
  • A vocal and dance workshop day.
  • A freeing and exciting improvisation using the voice as sound and the sounds as indicators of movement.
  • A personal confession-type exercise which resulted in Mary’s love description as she lay against the prince. One of the most amusing sections!
  • Using the voice can be the most private part of the body because it speaks words that can reveal what we are really thinking.

When being rehearsed one day it was interrupted by a 5/6 year old in a pink tutu who looked in and then fled!

Week Three

  • Trying to put everything together.
  • The many tasks and trials and experiences have to be structured into Princess.
  • The boxing ring image suggests the contained space of a stage/magic circle.
  • Music, costumes, order.
  • The lighting design.
  • Stage managing the final touches. How will the props be managed and placed
  • Learning it!

The first private performance was at Swindon Dance in April and the first public sharing at South Hill Park, Bracknell on 8th May 2015.

From the point of view-point of the artist. I was trying to be a silent fly on the wall but totally tuning into the work. My task was slightly scary, risky even, as I tried to get down 2D representations of the fast moving bodies.

The most straightforward drawings I was able to do were when the dancers were at rest or stretching slowly or making movements that repeated. But the most interesting challenge was when 3 dancers interacted making the most beautiful constructions of bodies.

Reflecting by Felicity Cormack

Reflecting by Felicity Cormack

As I worked I was finding ways to do it and getting excited by what I was finding. I bought some cheap sketchbooks and not feeling precious about the paper was able to work through without worrying how many pages I was using up. Some of the paper was very thin and took a pencil and a felt tip well. The thicker paper was quite good for a wash of thin ink and then as I drew on top with a felt tip the paper sucked up the ink. Charcoal didn’t seem right for the drawings. It was too messy and I felt that the dancers were very precise and so I needed to be too.

I just drew as I felt, passing from one medium to another as I felt I had got enough out of it. I was able eventually to sort the drawings into accurate, free, linear and groups. Initially I liked the many groupings that happened as the moves were discussed but the moving dancers were much more exciting to draw.

King by Felicity Cormack

King by Felicity Cormack

They were, consciously and unconsciously making artistic statements in how they made every move. Even just the way they stood still, if they ever did!

The relationship between dance and art seemed very close. The drama of a statement that can be made by a body is sought by both dancer and artist.

Felicity Cormack

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