Riley Sims, post #1

It’s Friday night after our first of three final rehearsal weeks for Drunk On Fiction.

We had a good, productive first week back in studio revisiting Drunk On Fiction. I realized that this creation is an accumulation of a number of reactions to life and experiences that have happened to myself, and the dancers. Those reactions are translated into the work. The choreography, text, and 'scenes' in Drunk On Fiction are a comment on the world around us - how we see it, and how we relate and respond to other humans within it. Of course it's not just that - the work has many things it draws its inspiration from. As a choreographer I find it interesting to think about what drives me to propose ideas and tasks in rehearsal. Why do I want to see certain moments etc? Wondering If I am speaking to my own life in some way? or the dancer's lives? Very simply put (and we've heard this before) the phrase 'Make work about what you know.' The closest inspiration at hand seems to be ourselves. So in a way Drunk On Fiction is Social Growl Dances' reaction to the world we have been living in since we last premiered our first full length work Are You Still Coming Tonight? in December 2014.  Somehow all of these thoughts reactions and experiences from each of us are weaving and binding together to make Drunk On Fiction. 

I can strive for what I want to happen in Drunk On Fiction, how I imagine it in my head. But what I've loved noticing is how the dancers and composer have changed the course of this creation. Simply by being themselves and having the freedom to do that. Any choice they make: how they move, how they interpret, how they improvise etc.

 It all contributes to the work's form, tone, energy, movement, and aesthetic. What it says. What it attempts to say, how it fails, how it prevails. I’m also discovering how to deal with a number of other factors that have shaped this production. From timing to funding to collaborators. It’s about letting go of a lot of things that I expected or wanted to happen. To deal with and embrace and shape what remains. To think that for some reason what is left over, or what presents itself, is what is meant to be. I like to think I am very accommodating!

Thinking about outcome. Hard not to go there. To not think about how it will be received. It’s just not healthy. I worry a lot. (Thanks Mom!) You can’t make a new work through the eyes of others. You make it through you and your interests. I keep reminding myself to stick to what I know and do my thing. Don’t water down, distill. When you talk about a work months before its done it can limit you - I need to tell myself to not give a shit about what the trailer says, what the initial descriptions say. It can’t all be explained through words. I like the idea of using an inspiration as a diving off point but not as something to make your work too literal. It shouldn’t bind you and make you think you can’t take it elsewhere now that you’ve written about it. This is the body. this is live performance, this is people. It’s about moments and timing. It’s not a story, not everything has to be spelled out. Every intelligent thesis and film doesn’t need to be read or watched for me to make this work...although lord knows I’ve tried! Of course I love has taken the work so much deeper. But in the end what helps me make decisions is instinct. 

I also don’t need to be overly conscious of the wants, needs, and agendas of audience members, and communities. You can’t please them all. No one knows my concerns or what I’m conscious about unless they talk to me. And if everyone made only the kind of work we ourselves wanted to see...we’d have nothing to feel strongly about, nothing that helps us know our own interests and what we stand for. Sometimes (although its not always the best way) a easy way of knowing you and your own to know what is not. Sometimes we can easily say what our work isn't, before what it is. But then eventually you should stop focusing and complaining about others and just make work and understand that’s what we are all trying to do and isn’t that a great thing?!

I also must acknowledge the people I have been working with as a dancer when not working on Drunk On Fiction. I have learned and realized many things because of the work and conversations I have had with Tedd Robinson and Mélanie Demers. Their work has influenced my own in many ways, not just what you see onstage. The ways I work, the ways I approach movement and choreography, the ways I approach interpretation, the ways I approach my relationships with the dancers I work with. Hell the way I approach LIFE has changed because of these two people. I am very grateful and love the fact that some have said they see glimpses of their work in my own. It feels like a ‘dance family’ in a way and I think that’s great.

Week one. So far so good. Stressed (duh.) But ultimately so happy to be working, and making a work that I am really falling for! and that is way too much at the same time. It feels bigger than me. Like its close but I’m still grasping for it. Connecting the dots right now...


Photos featuring: Jean-Benoit Labrecque, Jolyane Langlois, Ana Groppler, Geneviève Robitaille, Kay Kenney, Sébastien Provencher by Merik Williams