Spotlight: Jenny Rees, Second Year MA Student

16th August 2022

Spotlight: Jenny Rees, Second Year MA Student

The Project:

Jenny Rees’ choreographic study ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is a performative research enquiry which resulted in a site-specific dance theatre piece, that was performed in the windows of John Lewis department store in Liverpool City Centre (16th July 2022).

The research and development process examined the Spinozian notion of ‘affect’ within the context of creating performance that evoked a felt response from audiences. The focus of Jenny’s creative practice was driven by the desire to make work that is experienced by the viewer as an affective event and would engage audiences physically and emotionally through its affective impact.

In greyscale a woman stands in a towel with her hair in a towel turban. Another woman looks on sat on a sofa. But it is obvious these women are in a shop surrounded by furniture for sale. We look out of the window, which is large behind the women, and see passers by staring at them. Particularly a young woman with hair blowing behind her as she steals a quick glance looking in at the shop window to our dancers.

The Research:

‘Behind Closed Doors’ explored, through choreography, everyday intimate life situations which normally are only experienced privately. Jenny explored how these usually hidden moments can be translated into the very public nature of performance without losing their intimacy.

Discussing this in relation to audience affect and engagement, she explains that she will now consider how, as a choreographer I can shape how the audience sees the performance, through the generation of affective content.

The work does not have an outward focus to the audience, rather the feel of the viewer looking in or spying. This gives the feeling of intimacy and encourages the audience to actively engage in their viewing, making choices about proximity to the performers and how much or how little of the work they wish to watch.

The Audience Feedback:

‘…the window made the ‘behind closed doors’ almost literal. It did feel like we as audience were voyeurs. I actually found it hard to watch you and ….. (anon) together – my upbringing made me feel it was rude to stare at such an intimate moment. For you the performers, the window was a one-way mirror – you were completely unaware that you had an audience.’

‘Each section provoked different feelings depending on the relationship of the dancers, style of movement, soundtrack and use of props in the scene. Even though it was through a window, you felt like you were watching little elements of people’s lives and emotions that you too have experienced or can relate to.’

‘I got Goosebumps when the two women dancers were intertwined physically and emotionally, I was a very powerful image’

The Next Steps For You:

Want to explore how you can take your choreographic practice to the next level? Want to work remotely, at a time that suits your professional schedule? Then the next steps for you could be joining Rambert School’s MA in Dance Research for Professional Practitioners. Find out more here.


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