I love diving into a brand new choreography, there are always so many unexplored possibilities and Renata Soutter’s piece Flesh & Spokes for Propeller’s upcoming show at the Great Canadian Theatre Company is no exception!
The process of creating Flesh & Spokes has been a fascinating and unique one. Being in a power wheelchair, it has always been interesting to me how the use of props of any kind seems to challenge movement. For me personally the use of the hoops in Flesh & Spokes has been a complex process. How does someone in a power wheelchair connect not only with the hoop, but also with other dancers using the hoop? We have come up with some great creative solutions!
When it was decided we were going to use these as props, we first spent a whole rehearsal playing and improvising with the hoops. Through that improvisation, we discovered we could hang them all over my wheelchair. One dancer even hooked a hoop on to the side of my chair using a carabineer and I was able to pull her.
Once we’d had time for exploration, we began thinking about how to use them in the context of the piece. Starting at the beginning, some of the dancers were experiencing the hoops as limitation, and we went with that (we all have limitations, it’s part of the human experience). We began using these hoops as barriers, but everyone trapped needs someone to free them (freeing yourself can also be an option). It was decided that I would get this role. We explored ways for me to release the dancers, which brought about its own challenges of both grabbing the hoops, and moving the hoops in space. As we continued to play with these hoops, I discovered I could twist just a bit and that as the hoop came off the dancers it would fall over the back of my chair. I also discovered I could “step” into a hoop or two! Through these explorations we learned new ways to support each other asked of us from the choreographer, Renata Soutter.
All in all, this choreography has given each dancer an exciting challenge (which is a good thing) both mentally and physically, and overall I would say is a victory of new discoveries and opportunities that have expanded our teamwork and artistry.
Come see the show and let us know what you think!
Image: Dancers Shara Weaver and Moni Hoffman; photo by Rachel Gray.
Moni Hoffman has been dancing with Propeller Dance since 2008. She has also trained intensively with Cleveland Ohio’s Dancing Wheels. She loves both dancing and the art of choreography, and was selected as one of three choreographers for Propeller’s Emerging Choregraphers program. She was a finalist in 2009’s Celebration of People in recognition for her years of dedication to volunteering.