INTERVIEW: Independent Artist Isabella Stone
One of Co3’s guest choreographers for the Act-Belong-Commit Co:Youth performance, Project NEXT, is independent artist Isabella Stone. We chat to Isabella in the lead up to Project NEXT about her work with our Ensemble, what the process of reimagining a work is and what audiences can look forward to in the performance.
What kind of things do you do with the Act-Belong-Commit Co:Youth Ensemble each week?
Every Sunday morning I teach technique class to a beautiful group of young girls and then spend the day working with my team to develop a reimagining of Paper, Scissors, Rocket! We discuss all parts of the choreography; how sections might form together, the type of sound I should search for, which themes, images or events from Paper, Scissors, Rocket! we want to explore or reinvent, the construction of story and costume. I try and act more as a facilitator to process, provoking and suggesting as many options as I can imagine to generate and construct movement, but letting the final decisions come from the youth. I always aim to create an atmosphere that is encouraging and generous, remaining playful and simultaneously focused. Great joy comes from learning about the youth, so there are often moments talking about school, favourite subjects, not-so-favourite subjects, piano lessons and any number of things that are going on in their world!
What is it like to reimagine a previous Co3 work?
For me, it’s just a different way of working. The scaffolding has been nice to lean upon, to redirect the focus when lost and have a gigantic source to work from if moments have been sticky in rehearsal. This work allows a lot of room for individuality and characterization. It has been endless fun helping the team construct their own characters or larger versions of themselves that come in and out of play in the work and are realized in their movement. Everyone was attached to props and voice that are used in Paper, Scissors, Rocket!, so far these elements live on in our version. This is a challenge for me as it is unknown territory, I’m still so deeply invested in movement and imagery, but that’s when the team are great with their willingness to play and try everything. Reimagining this work in particular has kept me out of the seemingly dark or deeper places I naturally go to, I’m working from the outside whereas most of my work to date has been internally driven. Ultimately, I’m not doing it alone either so that’s the real blessing of this project, I may have my own desires but it’s a great feeling to give them over to the compromise with the team, if that’s the way it sways.
How do you think performing arts help to communicate thoughts and concepts?
The performing arts offers a place to learn and imagine with time and space to digest communicated thoughts and concepts at your pace. You silence your voice and surrender to observing, listening and experiencing the performance. It’s this element of surrender that I always enjoy when taking a seat or entering a performance space. It’s as though in that moment all my pores open up so I can take in the performance with all parts of me, a shared dance with performer and viewer. This combination of space, time, surrender and journey to imagine and learn, with the whole body, in a seemingly quieter body, helps performing arts communicate thoughts and ideas. I also believe it’s this entire experience that means what’s being communicated in the performance often remains in body and mind a lot longer than we first think.
How did you first become involved in dance?
I first became involved in dance in year 8 at high school. Contemporary movement, performance and choreography quickly became a favourite.
What can we expect from Project NEXT?
You should expect a mixed-bag of exploding energy, enormous amounts of enthusiasm, sensitivity, generosity, individuality, rippling spines, serious beats and excited feet. It will be a great moment to share and experience the wonderful imaginations and hard work of a great group of young people.
If you would like to register for the Act-Belong-Commit Co:Youth Ensemble, register here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Image by Stefan Gosatti.