NEVERSINK WORDS by artist Theo Arran
Working with Matthew towards NEVERSINK was a constant exploration into the contributions real life experiences can have towards the manifestation of a performance. Inside the studio tasks presented themselves as a physical exploration before moulding what was developed into material. Tasks would often have an underlying emotional connection that expressed itself through the individual interpretations of each dancer, somehow the explorations seemed to facilitate Matthew’s intention for his work, whilst equally demanding the contributions of each individual joining him. My own experience did not find this ending with the production of a final work, searching for some form of honesty on stage became about the conversations between myself and Matthew, about why and how each performance could be reflective of lived experiences and sensations, not to present an audience with a matter of fact narrative but to encourage some empathetic response, for Matthew conversation seemed the starting point for this understanding.
The work itself crosses between the abstraction of emotion through choreographed dance and the more explicit moments of theatricality. One word that was often mentioned is ‘graphic’, not in a sense of explicitly and extremism, but instead in a sense more like that of vibrancy or exaggeration, almost as if to create a world on stage that felt unfamiliar, my own role that of one lost inside this world of unfamiliarity. How each action and reaction was performed seemed of upmost importance, as what becomes clear is Matthew’s desire for some form of empathy to be felt towards characters within his work, however without aiming to dictate for an audience member how this empathy manifests. The work is alive and new in each performance but what changes is the audience and their experience of the world played out in front of them. With this in mind it makes sense that Matthew would involve his and our own experiences, because how can we create something relatable if we are not able to relate to it ourselves as performers. What was asked of the work was for performers to present an overlap between themselves and their character. For me this was a presentation of my own caution and curiosity towards the world and the people around me through the movement provided to me within the character I was presenting.
A typical day during the creation of the work would begin with something purely physical and seemingly disconnected, many improvisations based around some qualitative task. As a dancer you would find the thing within this that interested you and explore it intensely, allowing time for conversation between yourself and Matthew, it was often out of this that an emotional connection may arise. It may be important to note that these realisations of movements subconscious connection to an emotional state, also applies to Matthew’s view of the work too, he was very open about when the production of movement came first hand and a followed realisation of its connection to his own life and experience of emotions. The process often seemed like an interplay or constant exchange between emotion preceding movement and movement preceding emotion. There are no strict rules for which must come first but a trust for the fact that one will formulate itself from the other.
Relationships within the work were also developed through tasks carried out in groups, the final trio was created purely from the imagery Matthew provided, it was at the time of creation, devoid of emotion, which seems strange to look back on now as it became, for me, a peak of the emotional threshold built throughout the work. Matthew sees the emotion or narrative within movement and magnifies it, adding imagery between each performance, never finding an ending point, the work is a constant search for it’s own truth. Within the partnerships, the touch that is performed must also be felt, we often discussed the real life interactions that had been magnified to fit the graphic nature of the work, be that the loss of a grip or the embrace of another dancer. The work gravitates around the physicalisation of emotions. The work is almost cinematic, it never seemed to demand an understanding of contemporary dance, but instead connected with audience members in the same way a film might.