Creative Lab – door, sun, in between

By Andy Solway –

Creative Labs are a great place to try out new ideas. It’s also really interesting to get an insight into other people’s creative process. I’m always amazed at how well people work together in the labs, even when they are from very different dance backgrounds.

At the February creative Lab, Jenny Parrott and I were working with Tingting Yang, who was looking for some input on a solo idea she is working on. Tingting teaches Chinese dance, which seems a long way away from the improvisational leanings of both Jenny and I. She explained that she is working on an idea based on the Chinese character for ‘in between’. This is made up of two other characters. The outer part is the character meaning ‘door’. Between the pillars of the door character is the character for ‘sun’.


We started with Jenny and I dancing, and Tingting watching. She showed us how the characters for door and sun were written, which gave us a physical starting point. This proved to be really rich. Jenny and I interpreted the material differently, but somehow it gave us a very strong connection. I think that the punctuation of ending a pen stroke and starting a new one gave us lots of points where we could connect and begin on a common impulse.

Tingting kept feeding in new thoughts what about the meanings, could we use those? What about each taking the role of one character? As new ideas fed in, the possibilities seemed to expand endlessly. Having too much choice can sometimes leave you becalmed, undecided, but in this case it added to the richness and playfulness of the duet. Later Tingting joined in for a trio, but we ran out of time to explore this in much depth.

The ideas from the Creative Lab were a starting point on what is proving to be a continuing journey. Jenny and I did a duet based on the ideas at the ODF sharing in March, and we are working with Tingting on a short piece or pieces for performance on 22 May. Most importantly, we have new dance connections that are rich and fulfilling.

The next Creative Lab is on Sat 30 April Email if you want to come along –