From The Rehearsal Room Part 2: Lauren Langlois & James Vu Anh Pham on ‘Nether’

Lauren Langlois’ NEXT MOVE 11 commissioned work ‘Nether’ is an absurd vision of a future that is hurtling towards us. An exhilarating visceral labyrinth, where memory, the metahuman and technological obsessions collide. Performed by Lauren and James Vu Anh Pham (An Act of Now, Depth of Field, Complexity of Belonging), Nether is a response to societal constraints where physicality is presented as the last frontier of what it means to be human. 

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

Lauren, for those not so familiar with the term, talk us through the ideas of the ‘Metahuman’ you have explored in your development thus far? 

Lauren: So it’s not Marvel (laughs). I was sort of aware of that, the idea of a Metahuman being really popular in Marvel comics. In Marvel, the Metahuman is portrayed as a superhuman that has this super power. In a way, it does relate a little bit because we’ve been exploring the layering of different physicality’s and internal states and then seeing how these effect the body.

James: It’s almost this idea of being enhanced. Which people are already kind of doing. We’re already constructing things with technology to enhance, to bring out, or to delete parts of ourselves. In Nether, I think it’s not so much about being superhuman maybe, but we’ve been exploring shape shifting and bringing out certain qualities outside of ourselves.

Lauren: Yes and the layering of these qualities and what happens to the body when you give it too much information. That’s somewhere I’m interested in going with the work, what does it look like to overload the body with this physical information?

Lauren what makes a Next Move work unique? 

Lauren: I guess speaking from my perspective as an emerging choreographer, the opportunity to be able to just go into the studio and create and not have to worry myself about the producing side of things, the marketing side of things. Those different elements at play when you do start making as an independent artist..those are kind of alleviated. You’re still apart of all the decision making, but you can just go in and focus on the work. Which is what any artist really wants to do..get in the studio and create. It alleviates the pressure by providing the resources and support you need. 

What elements of the creative process have been the most difficult?

Lauren: For me, I think the duality of having to step in as a performer and then step out again as choreographer has been the most difficult element of the process so far. The constant interplay between these two roles is quite challenging, but very rewarding. I’m still exploring that and still feeling it out from the inside. As a dancer in my own work, I find I have to be charged and open in my body and susceptible to lots of information. As a maker, I’m trying to keep my sights on the bigger picture and focus on serving the work.

James: It’s a hard one. Because for me the difficult stuff is usually the best stuff.

I don’t want to say it’s been that hard because it is a collaboration and we really do bounce ideas of each other and I’m really here to support Lauren as well and I’m very happy to do so. I don’t find it difficult actually, because it’s really fun. 

James you performed alongside Lauren in Anouk van Dijk’s An Act of Now, 247 Days and Complexity of Belonging, what has it been like working with Lauren in the development of her own work? 

James: Well actually in all the other works we never made contact. We never physically danced together.

Lauren: We never really collaborated on anything.

James: In Anouk’s works there was never really any crossover between us. So this is almost the opposite. In terms of working together outside of the workplace we’ve known each other for years now even before working at Chunky Move. It’s a lot more intimate between us because it is just us in the space. So we ask questions that matter and really progress the work. We can really support each other in that way. Wherein those other pieces there’s always been a lot more dancers, we’re working for someone else, we’re working with Anouk as choreographer, so it’s just a different dynamic. In working with just the two of us and Lauren guiding the work, we have to do everything. Lauren’s driving it. Looking at it. Being in it. Talking about it. Than doing it again.  

Lauren: I think we’re both in a place where we’re ready for that. It’s nice to be sharing that together. And I’ve noticed that Jimmy really enjoys having the responsibility and autonomy of being a part of a process where you can give your own opinion and really give your whole self to something. It excites me to be able to give you that. 

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

Photography: Pia Johnson. Design by Mike Giesser.