Jones the Dance/y Ddawns makes, shares and develops high quality and bold dance theatre in and of Wales, working nationally and internationally on projects with a host of dance artists, communities and international collaborators. JtD also creates opportunities for young people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and/or living in rural mid Wales to take part in creative dance projects led by professional dancers.
The company started out as Gwyn Emberton Dance (GED) in 2015, with shows created by Gwyn Emberton as the sole choreographer, working with dancers both from Wales and abroad, and with wonderful creative teams from across the UK.
Over the years the company has invited other artists to lead on projects and has expanded its aims and ambitions to involve more people. This has led to the company changing its name in April 2021 to Jones the Dance. Over the next few years, JtD plans to create more opportunities for the next generation of dance artists to be involved in and lead JtD projects.
For more information about Jones the Dance / y Ddawns visit their new website here. (www.jonesthedance.com). You can also see some of the dance artists they have been working with recently on their projects.
You can also read about the previous works of Gwyn Emberton Dance here.
Check out the following interview with Gwyn Emberton to find out more about his role within the company and his choreographic processes:
You Chose, WHAT?
You Chose, WHAT? is JtD’s current project in development. Work on You Chose, WHAT? started in 2019, as a small R&D with dancers Hampus Bergenheim and Osian Meilir, and 3rd year dance students at UWTSD. The intention was to go into production and to tour in 2020 which for obvious reasons got cancelled. With the support of a grant from ACW, the company was able to carry out a further three weeks of research and development in November 2020 with six dancers and writer/actor Keiron Self. The work is expected to continue in 2021 to be ready for audiences in early 2022.
Rather than a theatre tour as originally intended You Chose WHAT? will be an interactive dance film to be experienced in new and unusual places. It will question ideas about freewill and whether we really have the freedom to choose or not. It will be inspired by the stories of and created with young people from underrepresented backgrounds.
Gwyn works collaboratively with the dancers and creative teams and most choreography is developed through tasks and improvisation. For each work the tasks will be different and will be created with those who are in the room at the time.
Below are two of the choreographic tasks which Gwyn, the dancers and Keiron Self explored in the two R&D phased of You Chose, What?
Try these tasks and feel free to adapt as you need.
Task 1: ‘ing’
This involves working with words ending with ‘ing’. The task has multiple stages which develop on from each other. It is best to start with Part A and build on this but it isn’t necessary to follow this format.
Some of the words we used were…
You could use your own ‘ing’ words – perhaps ones that relate contextually to your own work. Select around 6 to 8 words.
The first stage is to explore the quality of the ing word individually. For instance, with Rolling you can roll your bones, the ones in your arms, hands, feet, pelvis, neck, or even your tongue etc. Maybe start with just that one body part, then move the rolling to another part, consider the quality of the rolling, notice the sensations it gives you. Perhaps you can send the rolling along the body to other parts. Give yourselves a while to explore this.
When you are ready try the word Folding. First explore where there are obvious folds in the body i.e., your joints – hips, elbows, knees, ankles. Then try and fold other places too… ones with less obvious folds e.g., thigh, rib, ear. Question what quality is created, consider the sensations and actions of the obvious folding parts and the less obvious. How is this sensation and action different to Rolling? What do you notice about the quality difference? Is there a quality difference? If not, why not?
Once you have rifted a bit go to the next word and repeat. A note - don’t get fixed if something doesn’t work for you.
Try two ing words at once. What does this create in the body? How does this feel? Is there compliance? Conflict? Notice and question.
How many ing words can you do at the same time? What happens?
Now move to pairs.
This can be done in contact (ideally) or it can be done at a distance (think negative space).
Select one of the ing words for both dancers to explore together.
Then ask them to try the other words. Try different words from each other.
Notice what happens, what do you like, what works for you.
Again, in pairs.
Give the dancers a list of words each – they should be different ing words or at least in a different order. Four is a good number to start with. Label them from A to D. Start at A, then change to B, C, and then D, as you wish. You can always go back to A, B etc. Explore this structure and explore the tempo of changes between letters/ing words.
Note - Let them flow and riff a bit. Notice the movement styles, qualities and patterns against each other.
This is where the tricky part comes for me. Setting.
How do you set improvised material?
I either record improvisation and work with the dancers to set and play with the material more sculpturally later or ask the dancers to set it step by step and then we shape it together.
Here’s an example of ing after the setting stage, created with Hampus Bergenheim and Jade Roberts.
Task 2: Text and Movement Combining
(This is like rubbing your belly and patting your head.)
Think about choice (or your topic/theme); the choices you make on a daily basis; those grander, life impacting choices; and the ones that seem to get made for you.
Write about a situation of when you have made a choice or a series of choices – it can be anything you feel comfortable with, the writing can be in any style you want – from bullet points to essay. It can be a singular story or something more philosophical about choice, a bit political, or even funny.
Read it back. Check it for rhythm, sense or nonsense. Enjoy its contents. Don’t make it too long about 45 seconds is plenty to start with for a first go.
Next ask the dancers to create a piece of movement material based on your text. It can be quite gestural/literal interpretation or based on the musicality/rhythm of the text. Set this material and learn it well.
Learn your text off by heart.
Here comes the belly rubbing, head scratching bit - combine the text with the piece of movement material. See what happens to the meaning of the text, what can you remove, what is necessary, what isn’t, take stuff out, try it in different tempos, with different qualities… Ask yourself what does it mean to you…
In You Chose, WHAT? we have been exploring text much more than we have before. For me text must relate to the body. There needs to be a connection with the body or a reason for it being there until there doesn’t…