From the Rehearsal Room: Lauren Langlois & James Vu Anh Pham on NEXT MOVE 11

“We’re exploring what is underneath the surface… what rests inside the body, underneath the skin and how that can bubble up and come to the surface.” – Lauren Langlois on her work in development Nether.

We sat down with NEXT MOVE 11 commissioned artist Lauren Langlois and performer James Vu Anh Pham to learn more about Lauren’s new work Nether and the development process thus far. 

Lauren, talk us through the title Nether, how does it tie into what you’re exploring in your new work?

Lauren: Well, Nether means something that is situated lower or perhaps underneath the surface and I think that relates to what we’ve been exploring throughout the creative process. Jimmy and I have been working on embodying internal states based around images and stories and exploring how these internal states translate into a choreographic, corporeal language. So I guess in some ways this is similar to the title because we’re looking at what rests inside the body, underneath the skin and how that can bubble up and come to the surface. We’re still in a process of discovery, but that is what I’m really interested in.

Lauren, you have performed in Next Move works before such as Antony Hamilton’s work Keep Everything, talk us through the differences of being a performer in a work, compared to being a choreographer? 

Lauren: It’s a huge difference. But similar in some ways. As a performer in other people’s works I try to create, I don’t want to say a narrative or a story, but I try to create an internal world and dialogue of my own that relates to the bigger picture of the work. As a choreographer, I would say you have to go through that same process but not only for yourself as a performer, but for all of the other performers in the work and also for the sound, set, lighting designers and so on. Each collaborator has to create something that relates to the world of the piece and you have to be across all of that and see how they tie in together. It is kind of similar to being a performer but it is looking out a lot more and letting others into your process which is challenging for me because I internalise a lot of my thoughts and ideas.

Lauren & James Nether, is described as ‘a visceral labyrinth where the metahuman, memory, and technological obsessions collide’, how have you been interacting with technology throughout the development thus far? 

Lauren: I guess we can talk about the element of technology in terms of sounds and what we have been exploring in the studio throughout the creative process. So Alisdair Macindoe our sound designer has been working with these really small microphones and we’ve been placing them underneath the tarquette and then also along the sides of the room so they pick up amplification sounds from the floor; but we’ve also been placing them on our body and in our clothes and working on finding incidental connections between movement and sound. How have you found that Jimmy? I’ll just pass that on to you!

The thing is, it’s still very open in how we’ll be engaging with it.

James: But what is certain is that he has been using the sounds that we’ve been making in the studios as part of the creation process to make and compose from scratch. Something as simple as hitting the floor, walking or the noises that we make vocally, he uses it as stimulus to make new sounds. Sometimes it’s very literal, other times it’s completely warped and becomes quite alien, and you can’t quite identify where it came from. That really resonates with what where doing, we’re taking a concept that can be quite simple and literal, but really digging into it and it becomes something completely new again. 

Lauren & James what’s been the best moment in the studios so far?

Lauren: We laugh a lot. We’ve also had some really long improvisations. The first week we really took the time to delve deep into movement ideas exploring particular qualities, textures and states. We improvised for long periods of time and watched each other and gave feedback. That was nice. It really set the tone for the start of the process. It’s not often that you get the chance to do that, because creative developments are normally quite short in dance processes. So there is always this kind of race to get something up and lock things down, so it’s been wonderful to be able to really flesh out our ideas. And yeah we’ve also just had lots of laughs and have kind of developed our own strange language.

James: It’s just a really good balance of work and play.

Lauren: When you collaborate with someone who you have known for a long time you end up having your own way of communicating and moving around each other and it’s just really lovely to share this experience, in particular, with Jimmy.

James: When you’re in a really positive work environment the best stuff comes up. 

Lauren Langlois’s new work Nether is presented as part of Chunky Move’s Next Move commission NEXT MOVE 11, a dystopian double that also features new work ‘Dharawungara’ by emerging Choreographer Joel Bray from 8 – 17 November. Book now here. 

Photography: Pia Johnson