Our ZooNation Young Company (ZYCBrum) have worked this term to create a special film, meeting weekly over Zoom to learn their choreography and working together remotely to edit their digital dance piece.

Artistic Director Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe-Mosca spoke with us about the challenges and learnings of creating a new dance piece in this way.

“ZooNation Young Company Birmingham and I were determined that we wanted to continue training and creating, despite the national lockdown, so with the support of the Hippodrome and ZooNation teams, and a totally digital term, we set out with the ambition of creating the short film we have just released: Senseless.

The concept for Senseless came about through discussion of how we all felt about not being together physically in the same room, not being able to engage with the deep senses of a person and what it feels like to be around someone in their physical form. As we couldn’t do that for such a long time, through multiple lockdowns, it felt like we were lacking connections when it came to senses, so it felt like we were in a ‘senseless’ season.

There are many challenges to creating a digital dance piece completely remotely, which we have learnt about and overcome throughout this process. The fundamental concept of teaching a dance class on Zoom might seem straight forward enough, until you factor in Zoom changing cameras and flipping images round. You can change what you view on your own screen but not what other people see, cue different choreography on different sides across the same group! Then there is often a delay due to differing internet speeds, so if you dance back a routine as a group, everyone will follow at seemingly different times. This time has taught us to really appreciate being in a studio together, the luxury of learning choreography in front of a mirror and the giving and receiving of energy in a space.

Nevertheless, this time learning from each other digitally on Zoom has also been a gift. A gift of time to look more closely at utilising different skills, learning about camera angles when self-recording, location choices and how these impact the choreography and different lighting states. It has given the dancers time to reflect on their own choreographic choices and what they want to say, what they care about communicating through this piece, something which we were able to spend time discussing. I never thought I would be editing a dance film, over Facetime in order to work with the editors, rather than being sat with them in real life. However, we have all learnt to work with these challenges and learn new skills, which we will no doubt take forward.”