In November 2014, First Dance Vancouver had the privilege of presenting a dance duet by Caitlin Griffin, internationally trained and sought after choreographer, at “A Night of Miracles” the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation Gala. We caught up with her earlier this month to get behind the scenes on what makes this duet such a fantastic accompaniment to any event.
FDV: Why did you make this duet?
I made the duet in 2010 because I wanted to explore space very literally, and I wanted to explore the space between two dancers. I wanted to look at different ways to animate the space. I started using fabric to shape the space and all this imagery started to come out of it! It has developed into a piece that I keep in my back pocket since then.
Leah Peden, the event rep for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation Gala “A Night of Miracles”, loved the duet and thought it would be great as an ambient piece for the fundraiser.
FDV: You mentioned imagery coming out of the fabric use. Can you tell us more about that?
There was the image of two people relying on each other, the image of one person mirroring the other, the image of two sides of one self being shown. No matter what, the two dancers were connected in some way. When one dancer was seated and the other was pulling them along, I saw a person carrying themselves. I began to question whether I was looking at one or two characters, which is interesting.
FDV: What will audience members see when they watch this duet?
They will see two people in a big piece of elasticated fabric working with and against one another. They will see light and transparency and shadows. The two people won’t always be completely visible because the fabric can hide parts of them.
FDV: You’ve been presenting this work since 2010 in different spaces and with different dancers. Is the movement set in stone?
No it isn’t, the movement is a structured improvisation. The dancers decide together to pick 6 or 7 physical landmarks that they want to hit. These landmarks are based on the images that we know are most interesting for the audience. They can also be decided based on the space it will be performed in.
FDV: Can you see this duet being shown in spaces of different sizes?
Yes, because it is a structured improvisation, the duet is adaptable for smaller and bigger spaces. The fabric itself is quite large but could be shortened for a smaller space if necessary. The impact of the duet is also different depending on whether the audience is close or far. I would love to show this duet in a big space with the audience far away, however the next iteration of this duet will actually be in a film I am developing. We will be able to get in close and frame it in a much tighter way.
FDV: The costumes for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation Gala “A Night of Miracles” were blue dresses with slicked hair. Is this the same with every showing?
We chose the blue dresses with slicked hair for the gala because it was a more conservative look: usually the costume is nude coloured pieces of fabric and we felt this was too revealing for the event. This is just another way that the duet can be adapted for different purposes.
FDV: Are there any venues you would like to see this duet in?
Yes! It would be amazing to see it in a club where there are lots of other performances going on and the room is much darker. The lighting would have a much more choreographed role in this kind of environment.
FDV: What kinds of reactions do you get from audience members who see this duet?
Audience members are very curious about what is going on! The dance duet is ambient, it exists in its own bubble like an installation. It rests along the outskirts of the audience periphery at first. Once it captures their attention they are surprised as they didn’t expect it to be there. The duet demands little from the audience members, they are free to choose how much energy they want to devote to it. It stays out of their faces, but pushes them out of their comfort zone. It produces a unique experience for audiences and they always comment on the beautiful imagery and the interesting shapes.
Check out this video of the duet performed by Caitlin Griffin and Delphine Leroux at “A Night of Miracles” November 2014. This duet is available for Special Events as one of our Classic Packages. Contact us for details!