Look around you – what do you see? Imagine if all you ever saw was a slice of light through a tiny window? Inspiration in Motion has teamed up with Amnesty International UK to create Sliver of Sky, a new work immersing the audience in that very scenario, to give them a glimpse into a world without windows to explore the emotional and psychological journey of those in solitary confinement.
Pas de Blog spoke exclusively to Ludovic Ondiviela to hear more about Sliver of Sky, how he got involved in this amazing project, and what it’s like working alongside dancers from The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Rambert Dance Company.
How did the project did come about? and – How did you become involved?
I had been looking at the work of Amnesty International for a while.They do a fantastic job and I felt I wanted to help raise awareness by making a piece in regards to what they fight for. There are loads of charity galas and events out there – which is great. But I always wondered why the work presented in those rarely related much to the cause they were working for. I wanted to create something that would be relevant to the cause.
Why are you so passionate about this project?
I think what I found most interesting about this concept was the contradiction between the physical freedom of dance in general and the complete physical alienation and restriction of solitary confinement. Working with the 3 main London companies on the same show has been an additional challenge, but very exciting.
There has been a lot of positive reaction and interest online with Lauren Cuthbertson’s name attached to this project. How did that come about? How did the dancers from different companies get involved?
I have known and worked with Lauren since we were kids at school. She has a very unique and genuine way of performing. As well as probably being her biggest fan I enjoy creating with her, she brings so much to the table, both physically and emotionally. It’s a very thrilling process.
Choosing the dancers was the easiest part- I have worked with or seen them perform for years.They all have a very interesting individuality. I like to feel a sense of collaboration and interest in the studio and that’s exactly what this cast gives.
In your career as a choreographer you have tackled a wide range of themes; such as today’s generation use of social media, Irish folklore, and mental illness, just to name a few. What appealed to you about the topic of solitary confinement?
I love fairy tales, magic, sci-fi and anything that takes me away from reality. And I love finding the magic in what’s real and factual.
There’s nothing magical about solitary confinement, the thought of being stuck in a 6ft by 9ft cell for years, 23 hours a day is a grim and depressing thought. But yet, there’s hope- hope in the work that Amnesty does, hope in the love of family and friends from the outside. As Albert Woodfox, who was in solitary confinement for 43 years, said- he found hope in a sliver of sky that he would see daily out of a small window from his cell.
Where did you draw inspiration from in order to create the choreography for Sliver of Sky? Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, has spoken about the Angola 3 inmates; is it based on their story?
No, it’s not based on their story. Albert Woodfox’s experience definitely inspired me to look into solitary confinement further. I learned that there are men, and also women and even children in some countries, that are stuck in this system – some of them without even a court judgement. I wanted to explore this total alienation from the world outside with no contact with any sort of media; and what happens to your mind when spending your life alone, and to your loved ones outside of the walls
Can you give us some insight into your choreographic creation process?
The process varies depending on the project and who I’m working with. Generally I try to find a collaborative relation with the dancers. They are the ones who will be on stage performing, I need them to feel comfortable and confident with their material in order for the performance to feel real.
You have uploaded rehearsal videos showing glimpses of the choreography. Are you leaning towards more contemporary or classical choreography?
Unless I’m asked to make something classical or contempory or a specific genre, I don’t really question myself on how the language form comes out. Dance for me is more about what the movement says and represents. I guess although definitely not classical the choreography relies heavily on the fact that all the dancers have a very strong classical training.The movement is probably a language that we would call contemporary.
But I don’t know- dance is dance. I think nowadays with the amount of different choreographers out there each with their own choreographic vocabulary the lines between classical, contemporary and others are very blurred.
What can the audience expect or what do you hope they will experience watching Sliver of Sky?
I hope they will be taken on a journey, open the door to a unfamiliar experience. and maybe question the situation. And if not, at the very least I hope they will enjoy the exciting quality of dancers involved.
Sliver of Sky will be performed at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells on Sunday, April 24th at 6pm. Tickets include admission to a post-show reception with members of the artistic team and representatives of Amnesty International UK. Click here for booking and further details about Sliver of Sky.
For information about how to be involved and help this project, go visit the Crowdfunding page for Sliver of Sky.
Note: Thank you to Melissa Foy for editing this article.
Feature Image Credit: Poster for Sliver of Sky. Image © Andrej Uspenski.