salva sanchis

Notes on choreography and music.

Salva Sanchis & Peter Lenaerts

notes on the choreography

The creation of “now h e r e” followed two parallel tracks. These tracks are very independent, almost opposite in many respects, but they also influenced each other greatly during the process. The two tracks are directly reflected on the two parts of the performance.

First part

In the projects that lead up to “now h e r e”, I used a specific system to generate movement materials. These materials were all improvisational, meaning that they were based on principles rather than shapes, and therefore could be performed in many different ways, but they would always have each a specific nature and qualitative features.

In trying to create a vocabulary without setting any movements I was inspired by the example of early “Commedia dell’arte” improvisors, who in order to keep their audience coming back to see their performances day after day, became experts in using improvisation as a tool for constant renewal. They found out that generating a big amount of vocabulary would not suffice: the vocabulary would sooner or later repeat itself, and the audience wouldn’t be surprised anymore. But if instead of improvising with the vocabulary, they would be able to alter and renew the system that generates the vocabulary, then the vocabulary would become virtually infinite.

Following that logic, instead of teaching my vocabulary to the dancers, I decided to pass on to them the system I used to generate the vocabulary, so that they could actually generate their own vocabulary.

A selection of these materials is used for the first part of the composition. The dancers are in fact improvising, but as they are working with a strict set of rules for each material, their dance plays with the tension between the ideal version of the material (which is absent) and the actual performance of it (which is present).

Second part

All the situations in the second part were developed while tackling the idea of “absence” yet in a different way. We wanted to look at each movement as a reference to another movement happening elsewhere. By taking the ‘originating’ movement out of the picture (or else by hiding it within the picture), we actually underline the connection between the different ‘resulting’ movements. In other words, it is because the connecting element is not visible that we perceive the connection stronger.

The performing of this ensemble logic demands an almost opposite focus from the performer compared with the first part, and also proposes a different focus for the viewer. All the dancing in this section is “motivated” from exterior sources (real albeit non visible), and thus it deals explicitly with interaction. But since the standard interaction timings are also removed (the time necessary for action and response, cause and effect, is taken away, and instead all connections are happening in synchronization), the group also functions as a larger individual.

The two parts as a paradox

In the first part of the performance there is no direct interaction between the performers, and the connection between the movements is made by the eye of the spectator, not dictated by the performer. Each movement responds to its own logic. In fact, the idea is that the more independently the movements are performed, the more apparent their relation is. In that way, a connection that is initially implicit becomes actually the main focal point. Individuality creates comparison creates connection.

Oppositely, in the second part each single movement is simultaneously connected to someone else’s movement. But in that synchronicity, the different positioning of each individual becomes visible. In this case, because the connection is solid and explicit, it is also unquestioned, and thus the individual gains focus over the group. The movements of each dancer become relevant because of their relation to the whole. Connection creates comparison creates individuality.

We allow the audience to read movement freely through a continuously changing landscape of interactions, and to make their own associations from what they see. But we also put forward the idea of the interdependence of group and individual. In presenting two mirrored ways of perceiving the individual vs. the group we remind ourselves that one can’t exist without the other.

Salva Sanchis


notes on the music

It all started in Chillagoe, a small (almost) ghost town in the tropical north of Australia, where I made a field recording at the local cemetery. All you can hear is wind, the odd bird and two cars. Apart from that, the recording is virtually quiet and empty. Dead, as it were. Quite literally, there's hardly anything noteworthy (pun intended) to hear or listen to. And this absence of sound is exactly what gives it an almost haunting and captivating quality.

Next I invited 4 musicians to come and record with me in Ausland, Berlin. The idea was to play them this field recording of quiet and to ask them to enter into a dialogue with this nothingness. They were asked to listen very carefully and play as sparsely and precisely as possible. They were not allowed to play unless they knew what they were gonna play. Their instruments were miked very closely and gained in really high so that the smallest sounds became audible.

Apart from the Chillagoe field recording, I fed them four more pieces: one other field recording, and three original music compositions, one for baritone guitar, one for cello quartet and a third one for sine waves.

None of the 4 musicians ever played together in these sessions. All they could hear were the originals I gave them and their response.

As they all played along to the same 5 pieces, I could easily sync up all the takes afterwards, thereby creating a virtual and yet very real score of music.

What attracted me in this approach is the lack of authorship. No single person is the composer of this piece, nor is it a collaborative group effort as in improv music, as none of the musicians ever played together. And my role finally is closer to that of an editor or auditor than to that of author.

I used these ten hours of recordings to create the music score for now h e r e. I started by removing the original composition in order to create an absent element, much like in the dance. And over the course of several months, the 5 compositions grew together with and in close relation to the choreography. The result is a music score that is neither composition nor improvisation, but something that is continuously happening, now and here.

Peter Lenaerts