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No man’s gone now (2003) - Vif du Sujet, programme A
production Sacd/Festival d'Avignon

Opiyo Okach, performer - Julyen Hamilton, choreographer
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No Man’s Gone Now was created for festival Avignon 2003 within the SACD (copyright society for authors and composers) program Vif du Sujet. The particularity of Vif du Sujet lies in the fact that it is the dancer who chooses a choreographer with whom to create a solo.

The specificity of the solo ‘No Man’s Gone Now’ is that Opiyo Okach chose to work with Julyen Hamilton on improvisation and instant composition putting into risk the performer-author/dancer-choreographer relationship. Being an instant composition work initially created for an open air theatre at festival Avignon another specificity of the solo is that it adopts and feeds on the character of the different spaces within which it is presented. It is conceived for presentation as much within closed black boxes as open air non-theatre spaces.

Performance: Opiyo Okach

Choreography, Text, Soundscore: Julyen Hamilton

Lights: Clement Goguillot

Music: Jacques Foscia, Micheal Moore, Alex Maguire, Benat Achiary, Kent Carter, David Holmes

Costume: Julyen Hamilton & Opiyo Okach

Production: SACD, Festival Avignon

Acknowledgements: L’Animal a l’Esquina, Centre National de la Danse

Up to now in your evolution as performer how have you lived the relationship to solo ?
Opiyo Okach : From the moment I shifted to working with mime and physical theatre I automatically found myself creating and interpreting my own work. It wasn't out of choice to become a solo artist. There simply weren't other people pursuing such line of work in Nairobi where I started. It has become a way of working alongside ensemble work.
In the solo I find a certain liberty of personal choice in a way that is quite different to when working with other dancing partners. The pressure of limits and freedoms comes more from within rather than outside. But contrary to self-indulgence this being ‘alone’ on stage accentuates the role and presence of ‘invisible partners’. It heightens the extent to which, besides light and music, one can engage the spatial specificities of a venue and the presence of different audiences at each performance as active partners that influence the evolution and dynamics of choice.
Solo work has led me towards an interest in the relationship between event, time, place and the ephemeral character of live performance. The fact that an action doesn’t always produce the same result is such a basic truth that it seems odd to suspend it by default as performance strategy. Something seems contradictory about live performance being fundamentally predetermined future/reconstructed past; especially when the intention is an illusion of present moment.

You’ve chosen to work with Julyen Hamilton. How did you arrive at this choice ?
Opiyo Okach : I first met Julyen as a participant in one of his instant composition workshops. I don't remember other experiences that have led me into generating such a flux of creative energy. I've never danced other people’s work and being a choreographer’s tool in the classic sense is something that hardly fascinates me. My choice was very much based on the consideration that I would not be dancing one of Julyen's solo, neither would he be directing one of mine. I was attracted by the possibility of genuine artistic collaboration. Culturally we also represent realities that are apparently quite far from each other.

Could you talk of the passage between “choreograph a solo for oneself” and create a solo for other than yourself?
In what way approach this passage?

Julyen Hamilton : To make a solo for oneself involves such an intimate and organic process, the process itself is a bit of a mystery...and in a way I wish it to remain so, being more interested in what is produced, than in the details of 'the process which produces'. And anyway, each piece has its own process and is in radical ways different and individual from other pieces, so I cannot generalise about solos I have made for myself.
Certainly though, there are theatrical concerns which interest me - and specific ones which have to do with the form of a solo. And these I am continuing to explore and expose in this solo with Opiyo. The soloist is paradoxically never alone on stage - always being observed by the public, always performing before the public, whichever mode of presentation he/she uses. Thus there is always an inherent and subtle tension in the situation of watching someone 'alone' but evidently 'not alone'.
The solo and his/her relationship to biography /autobiography. Are they performing autobiographically by default, as there are no other characters on stage to 'call' them by another name than who they are? How can the single performer create a situation where he/she is allowed by the public to be non-biographical? I feel one is born a soloist - it is not something one can choose to be or not, it is a certain character and inherent ability to communicate both towards one’s interior while at the same time allowing oneself to be exposed to an audience; it is about the solitary state, about the dialogue which happens in humans in their solitary state; it is about accepting the paradox of solo where one is alone, while being obviously not alone but in front of a whole crowd of people!
In recent years all of the solos I have made for myself (about 170 since 1995) have been made through a process of instant composition, where the choreography is composed in the performance itself in front of the audience, instantly edited and never to be repeated.
I am using the same area of interest in the piece for Opiyo; he has such natural and developed abilities in this area it seems obvious to do so. But of course during rehearsal I am outside the action, watching, an observer at a distance and from this place I can make comment and guide the results with a type of 'objectivity' which is not possible when dancing for oneself. From this position I can refine his sensibilities towards what is being created in the instant and give feed-back. With oneself this process is much more dependent upon one's own trust and discipline within one's own subjectivity.
We have both talked about whether I am making one of my solos for him or one of his solos for him from the outside...and I feel it is neither of these...I am feeding him and feeding off him to allow material to evolve and to allow abilities to be recognised and instantly compose with this material in performance.

Remerciements : « L’animal a l’Esquina », Pep Ramis et Maria Munoz

Julyen Hamilton
Born in England and now based in Girona, Spain Julyen was trained in London in the mid-70s and has since been a constant exponent of innovative performances throughout Europe. One of Europe's foremost improvisors, he has performed in many group configurations creating solo and collaborative work all over the world as well as directing the Julyen Hamilton Company throughout Europe.
The Company work develops dance for the theatre where dancers and light designer are directed to compose pieces instantly; a process of practising improvisation in rehearsal and in the moment of performance.
In 1984 he was awarded the 'Zilveren Dansprij' by the VSCD in Holland.
Since 1980 his experience and interest in performing with live musicians has constituted a main area of work; among others he has played with Barre Phillips, Fred Frith, Le Quan Ninh, Alfred Spirli, and Micha Mengelberg. His solo '40 MONOLOGUES', premiered in England in 1995 and subsequently succesfully playing throughout the world is followed by his new solo "SUITE". His skills in improvisation are highly developed, his performances expressing his belief that improvisation is a valid performance mode in its own right. He is well respected for his refined teaching which reflects his research and development into efficient ways in which both technique and improvisational skills might be imparted. He is regularly invited to teach in major training centres throughout the world.
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