Don't Stand So Close To Me (D.A.N.C.E #3)

Don't Stand So Close To Me (D.A.N.C.E #3)

Comedian Dan Nicholas talks about his project D.A.N.C.E and the recent performance evening on 2 April 2017 where comedians perform stand up whilst dancers respond physically and then they swap and dancers perform stand up whilst comedians dance.

The show on April the 2nd was one of the smoothest running events of D.A.N.C.E I’ve ran, which is a credit to the performers and maybe I’m getting the hang of this a bit more. I was thrilled to see how much everyone put into it.

We started off with a discussion, about our expectations for the day (as well as discussing our favourite animal –Dancer Ian Dolan chose a seagull, make of that what you will) it lasted well over 30 minutes, and in fact could have gone for longer as we discussed the elements of play that is involved within the performance and the importance of status – it’s difficult because due to the comedian speaking inherently they have a higher status and focus, how do you manage that? How do you create a balance between the two performers without their being more weight than the other? I’m still not sure but it’s interesting to explore, maybe by the end of this project I’ll have a focused answer for you. Or i’ll be applying for more funding to continue asking.

Comedians Standing Close to the Audience

One of the main things I noticed in trying to address this balance is staging. Where each of the performers stands on stage.  I’ve noticed increasingly that the comedians tend to stand very central and in some cases stand as close to the edge of the stage as possible. This i’ve realised is natural for any comedian to want to do, of course the comedian will want to stand as close to the edge as possible as that’s what they are used to, what they are doing is having a conversation with the audience, it’s a dialogue so naturally they will want to be as close as they can to the receivers of this dialogue so both parties are engaged in the relationship they are having.

However in the context of this event, this can hinder the performance, it draws attention away from the dancer behind them, who in turn is in danger of looking like a ‘backing dancer’ to the performance, which is absolutely not the aim of the event.  Is it better for the comedian and the dancers to have their own ’boxes’ one each side of the stage for them to perform in? Or should the comedian be off stage in the corner so the focus is on what the audience is hearing and all they are seeing is the dancer interpret that. This may be a task that I try for next time, however that in itself brings about its own problems, it leaves little room for interaction between the two performers.

And that interaction is important and key to the development of this concept; this was encouraged further in this event, with some dancers interrupting the comedians set entirely with dialogue, which was great to see. Other interactions included contact between the two performers, with dancer being gestural towards the physicality’s of what the comedian was doing.

One of the main things I noticed was eye contact, at times there seemed to be very little eye contact between the two performers (in some cases this was deliberate), it’s interesting because in many ways the comedian directs the audience attention, it’s important for them then to understand their responsibility to the dancer, and ensuring they are acknowledged throughout the performance, by looking at them or drawing attention to them. If the dancer is ignored, then is there still an element of collaboration here?

Highlight of the Day

For a large part, this blog post seems to be focused on what the comedian is doing, Apologies for this, it’s perhaps because I’m a comedian myself and understand the thought process around this more, and I’m still waiting to hear feedback from the dancers.

There was a couple of real highlights for me this time round, one being where we were getting the chorography together for Jack Brittons ensemble pieces, there were two in total, and although it didn’t plan to go this way, the comedians directed and choreographed one piece, where all the dancers were performing and the dancers directed and choreographed the other with the comedians dancing. It was a magnificent moment of collaboration, and hope for this to continue in future events.
The other real highlight for me was #MarbleFeedback


Evaluations can be really boring (although I find them fun, but then that might be due to the satisfaction of ticking boxes), however (and thanks to Richard Fletcher for the idea) I’ve got a new fun way, ladies and gentlemen I present to you #marblefeedback.

A little context first, this project as I may have mentioned is about tracking audiences perceptions of dance and comedy, and whether the event can change their views on it. At the start of the night audience members are asked to fill out a form monitoring what they think of both art forms currently, and is there anything that puts them off attending these events. They are then given two marbles, a white and green one, and not told what they are for.

At the end of the event I explained that each of these marbles represents comedy and dance, they were then asked to put them in one of two boxes ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with the question being ‘Has this event made you think differently about comedy or dance’. Excitingly the majority of the audience put both marbles in the yes box. Which proves that this event is actually doing something to change views.

This blog is part of...