The Nu Civilisation Orchestra is thrilled to be working on an exciting collaboration with the wonderful Clod Ensemble – an organisation described by The Guardian as ‘one of those innovative and anarchic companies thrusting its way through traditional boundaries of drama,’ and whose ‘winning combination of music and experimental physical theatre has made them pioneers of contemporary music theatre’ (Total Theatre).
We asked the orchestra’s Musical Director, Peter Edwards to tell us what they’ve been getting up to:
“In November 2013 the Nu Civilisation Orchestra performed Charles Mingus’ Black Saint And The Sinner Lady at the Purcell Room as part of the London Jazz Festival. In the the audience were Suzy Willson and Paul Clark, artistic directors of the Clod Ensemble.
“Just a few days later, Suzy and Paul got in touch with me and our artistic director, Gary Crosby to discuss the possibility of creating a unique performance of Black Saint that would fuse the music with dance. As Mingus originally wrote this for dance, this was an opportunity we were keen to explore. So, in August this year, we set up a week of workshops with musicians and dancers at Shoreditch Town Hall.
“The Clod Ensemble made a call out to dancers and selected a small group to participate in the workshop. The dancers were from many different disciplines (physical theatre, ballet, tap, tango, jazz, hip hop, street dance) and all were interested in improvisation.
“We invited a group of Tomorrow’s Warriors to play in each session with the dancers. We also had a recording of the live performance at the Purcell Room to work with.
“We listened to the live performance and spent some time mapping out the structure of the work with Suzy, Paul and the dancers. Then we began brainstorming ideas and tried out a few scenarios, including creating exercises in which the dancers interpreted the improvisations of the live musicians and vice versa. It was fascinating to see the dancers embody the music in the moment.
“By the end of the week we had enough structure in place to host a sharing session to invited guests. We put together a full live band to perform alongside the dance group to perform the first prototype version of Black Saint And The Sinner Lady. It was a truly exhilarating performance and a great way to end a very successful week.
“Last month we had another workshop session with Clod Ensemble. This time it was just the dancers working to the recording and developing the choreography further. At the end of the week we brought back the full band to perform extracts of Black Saint with the dancers for another sharing with invited guests. It was an exhilarating session, and we received lots of positive feedback from the guests and performers alike.
“It’s very exciting to see this collaboration come together and to collaborate with Clod Ensemble. We look forward very much to performing the finished work with Clod Ensemble in 2015!”