We caught up with Tim Casson, Artistic Director of Casson & Friends, on his latest technology fuelled production, Choreocracy.
Choreocracy has been called a “prototype performance”. What does that mean?
Casson & Friends make interactive work, which means that unlike many dance shows the audience play an active part in the show. This means that we don’t only have to rehearse with the dancers, but we kind of need to rehearse with audiences too. This helps us to test the technology we’re using, see how people respond to it, and make the best show possible. This performance at PDSW one of three preview performances we’re giving prior to our full tour in Autumn. It’s still pretty much the full show, we’re just testing it for maximum fun – and welcome any feedback!
Your company are called Casson & Friends. Who are your friends?
The friends refer to a whole mixture of collaborators we work with such as composers, technologists, filmmakers, audio describers, the dancers and even the public. We believe that the work we make doesn’t happen without a team effort, and wanted to acknowledge that through our name, so everyone we work with is a ‘Friend’. For this show we’re collaborating it’s creative coding genius, Seb Lee-Delisle.
Choreocracy is an interesting name for a show. What does it mean?
It’s a ‘portmanteau’ which is where you put two words together to make a new one. We’ve combined Choreography and Democracy to create Choreocracy. We liked the name as it fit our mission: to create the most democratic dance performance ever.
What is your show about and how do audiences get involved?
The show is about our journey to create a truly democratic dance piece, and sees the audience voting for what they want to see, or what happens next, via their mobile phones. This means that each show will be totally unique to the audience who created it!
If you’re a technophobe, don’t worry! Technology can sound a bit scary, but we’ve been working really hard to make sure it’s all really simple – you don’t need to download any apps, just bring along a charged smartphone or tablet!
Choreocracy has been in development for a long time. What were your starting points?
I met Seb 4 years ago at an event that South East Dance held to put Dancers, Choreographers and Technologists together. We clicked immediately because we both believed that our respective art forms; technology and dance, can be a little intimidating, and we wanted to find ways to make them more accessible and fun for people! I liked the immediacy of his projects; you literally press a button and something happens – so it felt like a fun challenge to see whether we could do something similar with dance. Working with technology takes time, but we think we’ve created something really exciting, joyful and unexpectedly human!
What is your favourite dance move?
I’ve been working with some house dancers lately and it always looks really fun, there’s loads of personality in it!
Is there anything else you want to tell us about the show?
Well… as it’s a different show every night, what you see is up to you – so I can’t really say too much! Remember to charge your phone!
Choreocracy by Casson & Friends is on 31 May