Success in life is largely about getting the balance right between maths and poetry. About maintaining discipline while embracing freedom. It’s a balance almost impossible to get right all the time, and a challenge presented to dancers who use their bodies as to express emotion and contribute art.
Back 2 Basix are a new dance company co-founded by two professional dance artists, who also happen to be twin sisters. I wanted to see what they thought of this topic, how they approach their training, and who in the dance world perfectly reflected that blend of control and freedom to them.
Image, @_back2basix_ in rehearsal
Dance is a very physical task. Where do you see the role of training, when it comes to enabling you to deliver performance with the execution you aim for?
Yes absolutely. One of the main things for us as dancers is to be physically in shape and ready to perform, to be able to go where we want to go, to move, and that has been especially challenged being in lockdown or some version of it. With classes cancelled or online, it’s been difficult to keep that level of training and ultimately, it has forced us to be more independent in our approach and focus on individual exploration and discipline.
In our training, our focus is both on technique as well as on creativity, especially through improvisation. We work with different techniques, devising and exploring with prompts, which then we use for choreographing. One of the elements that has been particularly challenged by training outside a studio is the use of the floor and dancing ‘big’ with the space restrictions of a home. We’ve had to turn to working a lot more in detail, focusing on conditioning and strength with static elements and small movement and really approaching dynamics and energy in a completely different way. It is not always comfortable because sometimes all you want to do is jump around and move in that way but it’s certainly a valuable way of training and once you get into it, it requires the same amount of intensity and possibly more focus.
Well to me that is quite a poignant point. That restrictions are “not always comfortable because sometimes all you want to do is jump around”.
Yeah, I suppose the key for us is getting the balance of discipline and freedom that allows us to push, but still be fully present in a way that lets us have the vulnerability, the time to try and fail and get it right, to express and to grow.
“the key for us is getting the balance of discipline and freedom that allows us to push, but still be fully present in a way that lets us have the vulnerability, the time to try and fail and get it right, to express and to grow”
It’s much easier to have discipline and be committed when you have a goal, but when there is nothing to look out for, it becomes a lot more difficult, and we’ve had to find sort of smaller goals or simply be committed to staying ‘ready’ and developing our craft as much as the space and our mental state allows for it. And that is also important to acknowledge, mentally and emotionally, the current situation is incredibly draining, so it’s ok and necessary to take a step back every now and then, pause, breathe and just be, without expectations. To reevaluate what you want, where you are and where you can go from there. To constantly adapt which, as much as we’re used to as artists, it’s a whole different level of it at the moment.
“it’s ok and necessary to take a step back every now and then, pause, breathe and just be, without expectations. To reevaluate what you want, where you are and where you can go from there”
Who are some dancers you admire who you feel excel and really embody this combination of focus with freedom?
Tony Tzar has a deep knowledge and respect for dance and its legacy altogether with pure feeling and vulnerability. He’s someone to look up to beyond the studio.
Taja Riley, for her dedication to nurture other dancers, as well as her fire, technique and versatility as a performer.
BRODAS are the ones that made us fall in love with Hip Hop. They breathe dance, fun, love and commitment to the of hip hop culture and its presence in Spain.
Amazing, I’m a big hip-hop fan so will check them out. And then, when it comes to your own pieces, where you take inspiration from?
Besides the entertainment aspect, we want our work to be relatable and to provoke something within the viewer that gives them something to think about, whether that’s something positive, or the work simply prompts them to ask questions.
When we create, we put ourselves through that process of asking, researching, observing and trying to answer the questions we have in order to establish our take on the topic or idea that we want to explore.
An element we use quite a lot as a prompt, or even as part of the final piece, is text. It serves as a way of reflecting on our own practice after rehearsals, or on the topic we want to tackle and it gives us a focus to start creating.
Life reflects art and art reflects life.