In rehearsal with Monique Jonas
29th May 2021
Monique Jonas, choreographer and freelance dance artist based in London is an alumna of the School and one of our commissioned choreographers for the 2021 Summer Season of performances.
As part of our ‘in rehearsal with’ mini series we asked Monique a few questions about her new piece and what it’s like working with the current third year students.
‘I think I always had an interest in choreography and this was realised at Arts Educational School London and at Rambert School through the choreographic shows. With the opportunity to make work in the autumn and the summer I really took that opportunity to explore what I wanted to say choreographically and tied that in with the performance aspect. I explored how I could marry the two elements, how they were different and how I could use each to improve the other.
The piece I’ve created is called Overflow. It’s been made on 13 dancers in their third year at Rambert School. Essentially, the piece isn’t centred on one solid idea. We used the phrase ‘be like water’ as a starting point. We thought it bought a lot of texture, imagery and colour and I took this to the students and we had a brief discussion when we first met. We had a discussion on what words we could associate with the phrase and built up a picture from there as a collective. Words like ‘undulation, flow, ripple, waves and rhythm’ and these became the basis for movement. We created a variety of movements through an exchange of choreographic ideas, I created phrases as well as the students, as they developed ideas through movement exercises. I named the piece Overflow because of this abundance and overflowing of ideas.
It has been really great working with the students, they’ve been really open which is important in a creative process. I was able to offer something and they were confident enough to be able to offer themselves and ask questions. They have really great qualities like this which is beneficial for their future and for moving forward into the professional industry. Being able to collaborate is really important. They have a wealth of education within their bodies in terms of movement they are such strong dancers and can successfully merge what their bodies are able to do with my choreographic ideas.
The creative process has been different during the Covid-19 pandemic. The first time I met the students was via Zoom and the first few sessions in fact were via Zoom. There are many challenges in that. Teaching movement and phrases through a small screen is hard and when you’re trying to teach musicality and when there’s possibly a lag with the music it is challenging. We found a way through and I gained an insight into how they were interpreting the movement online. However, it was definitely more freeing being able to step into the studio. We rehearsed in a socially distant way, with masks, which was challenging as we were trying to communicate everything through the eyes alone. I would have loved to have more contact work or group contact work, but it is socially distanced. Having said this, it has pushed us to be creative in a different way, exploring the individual within the group and seeing how we can create those relationships without contact. It’s definitely a different way of working, but a new opportunity to push ourselves creatively.
In terms of advice for graduating students… continue exploring, stay open and hold on to as much of your sense of self including your personal life as you can. Celebrate the thing that makes you unique and don’t be afraid to bring that into the space commercially or on stage, when theatres hopefully open. Being open is so important, being able to engage with new ideas and absorb new information is essential. Lastly, be mindful of how you present yourself within online spaces, increasingly a lot of casting is coming via Instagram and other social spaces and it’s something that is looked at. So it is worth posting a bit of the work you’ve done on that social platform, so that you can be put forward into different spaces for you to share professionally’.