Hi Eleesha, thanks so much for taking time out to chat with us today! You’re currently very busy in the studio with your production residency ahead of the world premiere of All The Time In The World. How’s it going.
Yeah, it’s going really well! I began making this piece in 2017 and now that we’re emerging from the pandemic in 2022, it feels like we’re rediscovering moments. The real benefit of putting things on pause has been the opportunity for reflection. The cast has also changed throughout the process which makes the work a very organic beast. The structure has been in place for quite some time, as well as the identity of the work, but detail varies when new performers bring their experiences to the table.
That’s really exciting! We’re looking forward to seeing the show on Friday 11 Feb and seeing what you’ve been working on. For our audiences that might not have seen your work before, can you tell us a little bit more about you as a choreographer?
As a choreographer, I work with big themes. I tackle big emotions and they’re often quite challenging so that’s why it takes so long to create a work. The reason I do it is because ultimately, I want to draw out the dualities between different states of being. For example, we all know joy, but once we know pain, we experience joy in a much more significant way. Those contradictions are very important.
My reason for starting to dance was music. Before I was dancing, I was rapping at my local youth club and I was immersed in grime music. The school was tough and with the restrictions and conflict from many of my secondary school teachers, music gave me freedom but dance gave me an opportunity to unleash my frustrations.
All The Time In The World is a double bill consisting of Infinite Glimpse and Whiskers 2. Let’s start with Infinite Glimpse, can you tell us more about where it came from?
This piece came out of quite a terrifying situation where I nearly lost my husband. Infinite Glimpse is based on my response to such a tough experience and the love that we find at the bottom of hope. When something like that happens, you question whether this is the end of life as you know it and you have to process it somehow.
As a choreographer, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t create work without recognising what had happened because it was so life changing. Up until that point, I’d lived my life under the illusion that I was in control of it. Then something happened which completely derailed me and I realised that you can’t argue with some things in life. That’s where Infinite Glimpse began.
If there was only one thing I could ask of the audience, it would be to go on the ride with us…and if I could only use one word to describe it, it would be bittersweet.Eleesha Drennan
Infinite Glimpse really centres on themes of time. How have you been exploring this in the studio?
One of the things we have been playing with is how we can change our relationship with time. Sometimes move between states of fast forward and rewind and at other times it’s completely emotionally led or pushed by the music. With this in mind, we have had to work psychologically through the intention of the work, moment by moment, just as much as crafting the physical choreography.
I think audiences can expect to experience many different versions of how we can relate to time. The music has been composed to communicate urgency, disorientation and timelessness as three contrasting states. So for example, the timelessness of falling in love or the urgency of a life or death situation. These are the moments when our heart rate changes and we feel completely disorientated.
Infinite Glimpse is an offering for the audience to develop their own sense of what time means to them. What moments do they want to slow down and take in?
That leads us very nicely into this idea of living in the present which is also very key to the work. Tell us more!
The piece consists of memories condensed into little glimpses. When you reduce your life into these moments, memories slip away and it’s heart breaking. However, by letting them go you get this refreshed sense of the present. I like to think that Infinite Glimpse is another way to study our sense of how we live in the now.
You’re covering some huge themes that are simultaneously very personal to you but also relatable to everybody. How might our audiences relate to this work?
It’s been very important to me that this piece isn’t about lockdown and the pandemic. I was making it in 2017 so it’s not about that time in our lives, but it has survived through it. It has been washed up and spat out the other side and it can’t help but be informed and influenced by such a globally defining moment. For this reason, whenever it is performed in front of a live audience, it will feel like a different work even though it’s fundamentally the same. It’s imbued with the current and audiences can apply their own experiences and emotions to it.
Hopefully all our audiences will find a piece of themselves in Infinite Glimpse. Let’s move on to Whiskers 2, the second part of the double bill. What can we expect to see?
Whiskers 2 is a sequel to a work I made 10 years ago called Whiskers which was originally inspired by a folk tale called La Loba by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. It’s a story about a wild woman archetype who collects animal bones, reconstructs them and breathes new life into them. She harnesses power from nature and preserves what’s in danger of being lost to the world in a confrontation with inescapable reality of death.
The idea to bring back Whiskers came out of the research process for Infinite Glimpse. Because we’re dealing with themes of time and memory, I was interested in how these themes would relate to people of different ages and stages of life. I extended my research period for Infinite Glimpse by working with a company called Grace & Growl. They’re all aged 50 and above and I learned so much by working with them. It made me think about how it would be interesting to bring my solo, Whiskers, back. I originally made it in my 20s and it was quite a pivotal work for me. I became curious about how I would respond to it now, in my 30s and then again in another 10 years and so on. Whiskers 2 celebrates the ageing body through dance, examining how we can revisit something at different stages of life
Both works have been a long time in the making! Any final words for our audiences before they see the show
If there was only one thing I could ask of the audience, it would be to go on the ride with us…and if I could only use one word to describe it, it would be bittersweet.
All The Time In The World premieres at the Jerwood DanceHouse on Friday 11 February 2022.