09 May Emanuel Gat: A risk I’m willing to take
ŻfinMalta was lucky enough to host open rehearsals with Emanuel Gat ahead of our upcoming premiere of Utopia…
Audiences saw Emanuel working in creative tasks, where the component of timing was extremely prominent, and vital to the success of the structures created. He had some wise words on his approach to composition, and the futility of trying to control aspects of live performance:
Sometimes it doesn’t work…but its part of the risk I’m willing to take, when it works, it really works, and in a way that is far more interesting than when I am trying to control every aspect
It all comes down to risk management. Risk management is a by-product of fear, because I could be afraid as a choreographer that it won’t work, and the consequence of that is, I get bad review. The dancers can be afraid that it won’t work, and people will say they are bad dancers. Those are the fears. So when it comes to risk management, we ask, how can we manage that fear. How can we manage all the bad things that could happen?
…is trying to control everything. So in order to be sure that there will never be a problem, I could put everything on exact cues, I could tell the dancers exactly how to do everything, and I could try to control everything to the maximum…I can make the dancers learn everything by heart, perform it 100 times, and they will know what to do whilst leaving minimum space for error. We can try to execute and replicate a piece perfectly, that’s one way.
…is that we try to study something. We learn and understand what makes it work? What makes something not work? What is the reason that sometimes something works, and another time it doesn’t? Once you understand that -or they understand that, as they are the ones on stage- if they have an understanding of how it works, its the safety net. If something goes wrong, they know what went wrong, how it went wrong, and most importantly, how to find a solution. It comes from their understanding.
I would say, I don’t choreograph, I’m like a coach. If I had Messi playing for me, I’m not going to tell him how to run, or how to kick a ball, because he knows better than the coach how to do that, but he needs someone to organise the team, the placement, and the strategy, in order for him to do what he does well. Dancers do what they do very well, they just need to be given the responsibility and the freedom. They need to understand the choreographic context and process, so they can make a right decision.
Sometimes it doesn’t work…but its part of the risk I’m willing to take, when it works, it really works, and in a way that is far more interesting than when I am trying to control every aspect. When I decide everything as a choreographer, it creates a very small space. It’s a very limited space where only one thing can happen. Here? Everything can happen.
Every performance will feel completely different. If you come and watch this work, it will be completely different every night, and the feeling you get each night will be different. It also keeps it alive…but yes, it's a risk.
There’s always a performative aspect. We are trained as dancers to rehearse, and then we perform and end up doing something else, whereas if you are in a choreographic context that really demands work, and decision making, what happens is, that in itself creates a performative aspect. It becomes dramatic in a way that is interesting to watch, because they (the dancers) are really doing something, they are not pretending. All the performative, and dramaturgical aspects are another by-product, which does not need to be manufactured. It’s there, because they are really doing something for real. They don’t need to ‘try’ and perform, they just need to be on top of, and aware, of the situation they find themselves in.
Utopia will be performed at Teatru Manoel for three nights! Don’t miss your chance to see this beautifully and intricately composed work by award-winning Emanuel Gat.
Watch James Vernon’s trailer for ‘Utopia’