This past Sunday, July 23rd, BWBTC once again joined forces with Matter Dance Company. Just over a year ago, the talented dancers & choreographers of MDC offered the ensemble members of Babes With Blades Theatre Company a movement and basic dance workshop. As both companies utilize physicality and the body to communicate the stories we tell, this was an excellent opportunity to partner together and learn from each other. The incomparable Megan Schemmel is a company member with both groups and helped to organize.
In exchange for this workshop, the Babes offered to show the folks of Matter Dance some basic stage combat moves. It took a little over a year for all these talented folks’ schedules to mesh into a free afternoon but the result was worth the wait!
Under the direction of BWBTC member & Outreach Coordinator, Delia Ford, the basics of single rapier were explained and demonstrated. Footwork, cuts, and parries were learned & a short phrase utilizing these basic skills was performed by our Matter Dance compatriots.
During the breaks, other weapons from the BWBTC armory were brought out, to put the single rapier into context. And…the pool noodles made an appearance!
So what differences were apparent? In terms of choreography, which is used in both disciplines, ideas of how and when it can be organic and improvised versus when someone comes to the table with the full game plan in mind and it is taught with a specific end product in mind were discussed. The idea that even with a specific game plan, especially when working fights, the process may change depending on the performers’ skill level, comfort level, physical limitations or simply the way their body ‘works’ – left hand vs. right hand; height differences in fight partners; weight differences, etc.
Another interesting note was timing – in dance, there’s a specific rhythm associated with a count and beat of the song. You can move with it or against it, but that beat often determines when the movement takes place. With staged fighting, even when musical underscoring is involved, it’s much more about telling the fight’s story than trying to stay ‘in-time’. There’s a very specific partnership that develops in terms of speed and distance. And with a different partner for the same fight, you start over completely with the questions “how do you know how fast to go or when the next move is?”
And, of course, with stage combat, keeping your eye on the weapon (and your target) not only helps to tell the story, but it is also required to keep everyone safe!
If you are interested in learning some stage combat basics, keep an eye on our Facebook page and our website for more information on our upcoming Swords For Rusty Broads (and Gents). October 4th will be a “Back To Basics” workshop at Voice of The City.