Ransack Dance Company
Ransack Dance Company are a dance theatre production company based in Pontypridd, South Wales. Our work includes live dance, music and film and often also includes spoken word. Our work is very physical with an athletic release based contemporary approach to movement. We then partner this with a very subtle, poetical and 'human' approach to create our unique style. We have a big community focus in our work, using the narratives and stories from the community members we work with to inform the narratives and speech in our professional performances and inviting community groups to join us on stage to perform in our 'flash mob' scenes alongside our professional cast.
Check out the following interview with our Artistic Director to find out more about her role within the company and her choreographic processes:
This is Ransack's latest work which is part of our double bill production 'Murmur'. The work is inspired by a television interview with actor Marlon Brando, in which he talks about acting as a 'survival mechanism' and explains how we 'act everyday to save our lives'.
Below are some choreographic tasks which Sarah used with the Ransack dancers to create movement material within the work. You can try these using the resources in the links below and/or translate to using your own resources and inspiration for movement within your own work.
Task 1: Waterfall Solos
Performed as the foreground to powerful film imagery of a cascading waterfall, the solos are driven by the interview with actor Marlon Brando, which the piece is inspired by. Each dancer created their own solo based on key words and phrases from the interview.
This task can be transferred to using any spoken or written text or script with your dancers; a great way to link movement to an anchor point of inspiration.
Layer 1: Ask your dancers to listen to and/or read the text and pick 5 words or sentences that stand out to them.
You can try this using the script from the interview to test out the task before using your own text if you would like.
Layer 2: Direct the dancers to create a movement to represent each word/sentence they have selected. Keep movements small and very 'human' based for this layer.
Layer 3: Growing the final solo - now the dancers have their 5 movements, ask them to work on repeating the phrase 3 times to form their final solo...each time it gets repeated the movement grows in size and speed and the movements may evolve into something quite different and more athletic than the first version
Task 2: 'I Just Wanted To Tell You'
This is a choreographed group contact scene involving movement and spoken word, created from an improvisation task. The choreography was built through layers of directed improvisation. We then found patterns and imagery that particularly worked within this, to set the movement.
Layer 1: Preparing lines - Think of a question that you want your dancers to answer that is linked to the theme or narrative you are working with. E.g. Our question was 'when have you really wanted to tell someone something, but held back and decided not to? Ask each dancer to write their answers on a small bit of paper or post-it note with each sentence starting the same, eg. our start phase was 'I just wanted to tell you that...' (each dancer writes about 4 to 5 answers on separate paper). Then put aside to use later in the improvisation.
Layer 2: The 'falling' game - Dancers walk or run around the space. Someone can shout 'falling' at any point and fall to the floor (make sure to bend knees and lower pelvis first to avoid injury) As they fall the other dancers run to catch them. They then can either lower them to the floor gently, or choose to lift them up high and take them to a new space in the room. Play with this game and let it settle. As the choreographer keep directing the dancers by asking questions enabling them to find lots of movement options - e.g.could the 'faller' be passed from one dancer to the next? What happens if no one runs to them?
Layer 3: Adding speech - Bring back the post-it notes you put aside and spread them around the floor of the space.You also need to have a microphone or an object to represent one (we use a water bottle!) Continue playing the game, but this time the dancer who wants to fall holds the 'microphone', picks up one of the notes and reads it to another dancer. They then automatically become the 'faller' and the group again either takes them to the floor or lifts them to a new space. At the same time someone steals the 'microphone' off them and picks up another note, becoming the speaker, then the 'faller.'
You may want to keep the above task improvised or start to use imagery from the improvisation that works particularly well and re-create it to set the choreography. As a development you can then also add moments of set unison choreography in-between contact and lifts (to replace the walking/running in the game.) Equally you could set the order of the lines from particular narratives and relationships that emerge from the improvisation and take away the written notes, or decide to keep the speech improvised in terms of the order.
Want to know more about what it's like being a performer in the company?