There are two possible interpretations for the title of a new dance duet called Tuning.
According to dancer Alexis Fletcher, who commissioned the work, it can be taken literally because she and fellow dancer Ted Littlemore sing and make sounds with vocorders and a looping machine in the production. But Fletcher, who spent 14 years with Ballet BC, really sees the title as reflecting how two dancers are tuning into one another. The choreography is by Vanessa Goodman, in collaboration with Fletcher and Littlemore.
“It almost feels to me like when you bring two magnets together—and you can start to feel either the drawn-in or the repelling forces,” Fletcher told the Straight by phone. “Like you can feel that little field between the magnets. There’s something about the piece that feels that way to me between him and I.”
Fletcher said that a 30-minute excerpt of Tuning will premiere at this year’s Dancing on the Edge festival, with a full-length production to be presented next February. For Fletcher—who is used to performing in large productions with many dancers, as well as choreographing her own solo production, called assemble, during the pandemic—it has been refreshing to be part of a small group “building this little world”.
Working with Goodman and Littlemore has also enabled Fletcher to pursue her passion for exploring how “the movement potential of the human body becomes a way of accessing the inner landscapes of our spirits and psyches”.
“Ted and I have been able to build a really beautiful connection over the course of these working weeks,” she said. “He brings a beautiful lightness to the room.”
Fletcher described Goodman as a “very compassionate, generous person”. In addition, Fletcher has long admired Goodman’s knack for coming up with “conceptual or intellectual starting points”. But along with that, Fletcher added, she also keeps her work “really grounded in the body and in the physicality”.
That’s what attracted Fletcher to working with Goodman: this layering of ideas with the philosophy of movement and the humanity that can be created through dance.
“That’s such a challenge,” Fletcher said. “We all have with dance, as creators, these big ideas that we come into the start of a process with. Then it’s, like, ‘How do you actually not only research and eventually shape and structure, but how do you really ground that in the physical body and the kinesthetics of the dance instrument, which is our own bodies?’ ”
Fletcher pointed out that she, Goodman, and Littlemore all come from very different backgrounds in dance. As such, they did not share the same physical esthetics, sensibilities about improvisational choices, and form—something that Fletcher has really enjoyed.
Goodman, a veteran of contemporary dance, integrated vocorders and a looping machine into her last major production, Graveyards and Gardens, which was commissioned by Music On Main and performed at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.
Littlemore is a drag performer and accomplished musician and singer as well as a founding member of CAMP, an avant-garde Vancouver dance troupe.
“So all of the sound that the audience shares is completely generated in real time by Ted and myself throughout the piece,” Fletcher said. “And that’s been such a cool thing to work on and really highlights Ted’s skill as a singer.”