Thursday, 23 January 2014

The stage

My blog entry for The Stage:
I've been Artistic Director of the company Probe since 2004. It started as myself and dancer Theo Clinkard running the company together, driven by the desire to control our own career trajectories and invite only collaborators we were passionate about. 
We began merging artforms and introducing collaborators outside of contemporary dance very early on; film makers, composers, using text and song, creating sets that moved and transformed the space etc. Always looking for interesting ways to challenge ourselves and the stereotypes of contemporary dance presentation. 
When I became sole Artistic Director in 2008, I changed the nature of the work Probe was producing to explore a singular narrative, concept or subject matter for the duration of a piece.
 I also wanted to continue collaborating with Artists from different genres. Our present  production, 'Running on Empty', involves Theatre Director Jo McInnes, writer Brad Birch, choreographer Charlie Morrissey and songwriter Lee Ross.
The process for devising cross-genre work is full of challenges since there is no tried and tested methodology to follow. Despite an extensive research period, when we came into the studio to create Running on Empty, we had nothing. No script to hold onto, no songs had been written since they needed a story to follow and we had to develop a new choreographic language and live sound score for each scene as it emerged. Scenes would appear, come to life and then disappear as the piece evolved. You learn not to get attached to material you are creating as, whilst it is relevant to the process, more often than not it will become irrelevant to the story as it unfolds.
The collaborative team for Running on Empty brought a vast wealth of knowledge and experience to the room; this was both thrilling and completely overwhelming! The possibilities become almost too great. We, the 3 performers, contributed to the piece by making choreography, producing bits of writing for the script, composing music and offering suggestions for tackling scenes. As well as the director there was a choreographer, writer and  songwriter contributing material. I wouldn't go so far as to say 'too many cooks...', however it did make for an extremely rich, hearty and at times overflowing stew! 
The Director, Jo, was left with many difficult decisions and questions to answer. What exactly is this piece we're making? What's the story and how is it best told? What material to keep? What to throw away? What else needs to be made and how? We are still asking those questions now, even after some shows in Autumn, but with our Soho Theatre run opening on 4th february, and after time off to reflect ,it feels like we might actually be on the way to finding the answers.
This has probably been my most ambitious and challenging project to date. When the collaborators are this good the stakes are high, the expectations are high. I realise now that you need more creation time for a process like this to prevent the work being thrown on stage before full investigation, formation and scrutinisation has occured. The problem with touring dance is that, unlike theatre, there is no opportunity to preview a new work in order to try out a show in front of an audience. Show one is the premiere and it is expected to be finished, which I think hinders risk taking in dance. It has become increasingly clear to me that due to the complex nature of devising a work using so many different genres, the crucial part of the process is rubbing it up against an audience, listening to the response and refining it accordingly. 
Whilst any piece of art never feels truly 'finished', it eventually reaches a resting place and that's when the performers can ride the wave and get stuck in. It seems you can't rush or control when this happens, which can be frustrating, but when it comes it's worth the wait and feels totally liberating! I can feel it coming and I can't wait, roll on Soho Theatre.

Twitter: @probeproject

Soho Theatre 4-16th feb

Running Empty is at Soho Theatre 4-16th FEB 2014...

book tickets here:

Check out our tour dates for spring 2014 here:

watch the trailer here:

Hope to see you there!

Antonia and the team

Monday, 23 September 2013

Zoe's rehearsal shots

Rehearsal Shots @Greenwich Dance taken by the wonderful Zoe Manders






Thursday, 19 September 2013

Greenwich Dance studio shots by Tim Copsey

We've been rehearsing Running on Empty at Greenwich Dance this week.
Here are some studio shots taken by Tim Copsey...




Buried in the countryside

We have been buried away in the Sussex countryside cracking on with Running on Empty.
Intense. Focused. Challenging. Exhilarating. Fulfilling. Exciting..... scary! 

The sun was shining on week 1, the horses were grazing and the wild flowers were out...

Not quite Tuscany, but a pretty spot to share lunch...

The team started gathering for the second, third, fourth.... production meeting, it's really hotting up!

My amazing team:

Director                Jo McInnes
Writer                   Brad Birch
Performers            Greig Cooke, Scott Smith, myself (AG)
Choreographer      Charlie Morrissey
Composer              Scott Smith
Song writer           Lee Ross
Designer               Fabrice Serafino
Lighting                Beky Stoddart

Producer               Elizabeth Mischler
Coordinator          Zoe Manders
Production manager  Stocky

We've also had the lovely Lorna acting as Stage manager for us in rehearsal.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Going to Edinburgh

Time to take a break from Running on Empty...

Taking my solo Small Talk to Edinburgh Fringe:

18-25th Aug
9.30pm ZOO venues, Aviary

Twitter: @probeproject


From the epic to the intimate, looking at human resilience through history, our survival of the present and our fears for the future. From natural disaster to the intricate and sometimes absurd nature of our daily human interactions...


Wake-up, open my eyes, not sure which comes first
Put the alarm on snooze, at least twice, 10 minute intervals
Get out of bed, put on a t-shirt, open the blinds, just a little, switch on the kettle
Make a cup of tea, eventually, after filling the time the kettle takes to boil doing something banal
Switch on the radio, sometimes, sometimes silence is ok, sometimes it’s not
Start getting dressed between sips of tea, that’s if it’s a morning when I have something to do

Sometimes sit and meditate for a while, 10, 15, 20 minutes at most
I don’t try too hard, but it feels nice
Carry on with the day, turn on my laptop, make the breakfast, let other people in.

And then came the FLOOD... and the ARK.... and selecting which animals would be left behind.