Sabine Crompton-Ward on working with Idan Cohen


20 June 2019

In term two, the Pre-Professional Year welcomed Vancouver based Israeli choreographer and opera director Idan Cohen for a three week choreographic development. Read about Sabine Crompton-Ward’s experiences below.

“It was great to be able to work with my peers in this new way, creating something together, which will continue to grow with us as we grow throughout the duration of the course.

Idan was excited and warm from the moment we began. He made us feel comfortable and welcome in his working environment and had the whole room laughing at multiple points throughout each rehearsal.

We jumped straight into action on our first afternoon. Idan taught us a phrase that would eventually become the finalé of his piece. The movement is athletic and physical, and Idan was very precise with the way in which he asked us to deliver this material. Over the course of the next three weeks, I realised how much I enjoyed Idan’s specificity. Phrases such as “The eyes must look up when the fists come to the top of the head” and “the jaw is alive in this movement” became common audible backdrops during the development of this piece. Idan’s consistent insistence on very particular images or expressions within movement took a little while to become accustomed to, but seeing the piece develop, it soon became clear to me how important these details actually are.

Whilst Idan was meticulous with the details of his choreographed sequences, he also really allowed each member of the ensemble to be an active participant in the creation of the piece. We each were able to place our own abilities and personalities within the piece in the form of miniature solos. I loved being able to observe Idan’s process of configuring the stage during the solos section, and how he was able to work with us on an individual level.

During the time Idan spent with us, we spoke a lot about his research and the intent behind the piece we were creating together. We talked about the experience of the performer coming from Western European opera through the Renaissance and Baroque periods and concepts of women through the male gaze.

Idan’s work was often very theatrical and expression based. I found this challenging at first. These outward expressions and flamboyant movement qualities didn’t come naturally to me. Over time, however, I found freedom in this over-the-top, extravagant movement.

Through our discussions and attempted physical embodiment of the concept of the ‘performer’, I found myself looking deeper into my own personal experience of entertainment and the idea of the ‘pleaser’ – something we discuss frequently in PPY in the context of removing conditioned pleasing behaviour. It was interesting for me to marry these two notions while working with Idan, and to explore a state of performative pleasing though Idan’s vision and choreography.”

Applications are now open for Pre-Professional Year 2020.

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