Interview with Ultimate Dancer – Live Collision International Festival 2017

Interview with Ultimate Dancer – Live Collision International Festival 2017

We had the chance to talk to Ultimate Dancer (aka Louise Ahl) ahead of her production YAYAYA AYAYAY at Live Collision. You can see the results below! Find out more about YAYAYA AYAYAY  here.

LIVE COLLISION INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2017: Part 1 // – 19th – 23rd April 2017
Photo Credit – Abigail Denniston for Live Collision

Where did the name Ultimate Dancer come from?

Ultimate Dancer came from the deep unconscious. I first encountered Ultimate Dancer as part of my final module whilst studying choreography. As students we were asked to make a collaborative work for our degree shows but I was super keen to make a solo work as I’d been heavy on the collaborations for a few years. I made up this alternative persona (Ultimate Dancer) as a very real person who was gonna come to campus and collaborate with me on my degree piece. I looked at a lot of wrestling during that period so the name and persona was inspired by Ultimate Warrior, who was a famous wrestler. Making my degree show was the time when I started to ‘become’ Ultimate Dancer. I sent Ultimate to my dance classes and pranced around campus as Ultimate. My peers and teachers thought I was ill but I had a great time. In the same way that an author would use a pseudonym to write books, I would use Ultimate to make and perform. It was a very personal in-joke at that time (in 2010) but then people really enjoyed Ultimate Dancer so it’s stuck with me since and now I hardly make work without Ultimate.

You are returning to Live Collision after performing at it last year. Why come back? 

I showed a very early version of YAYAYA AYAYAY last year and had a fantastic response from the Dublin audience, and generally had the best time at the festival. When Live Collision asked if I could come back with the work in a more developed phase, it felt very exciting, as it’s become really rich through the new collaboration with Robbie Thomson. We have worked with developing some of my existing performance material into something more complex with light and sound affecting the space in trippy ways. It’ll be the first time that we show new material and this new structure for an audience on Friday so we’re very excited to see what people think!

YAYAYA AYAYAY is a ‘work in progress’ production. Does it help to develop things in front of a live audience?

Absolutely. For this piece I’ve done three work in progress showings even before the process of working with Robbie started. The show on Friday will be the fifth work in progress together with Robbie. The official premier is in Glasgow in May. It has taken some time to find the form for the piece and what kind of space we want to create so it’s been really useful to try different versions and materials with people present in the space and them feeding back on their experience. The work has some particularly sensorial aspects so it’s only through people describing their experience that we’ve been able to make certain decisions on how far to push things. We’ve also been working with a dramaturg (Jo Bannon) throughout the development of the work, which has been mega important as I’m performing myself in the work and it can be difficult for me to ‘see’ the work. Working with Jo and doing these work in progress showings has helped me to visualise the piece.

This production features ritual dances, amongst other things. What research did you do into ritual dances?

It’s probably important to say that whatever ritual dances that exist in the show, they are Ultimate Dancer’s ultra special space moves that have been developed through various brain training exercises. Apart from this psychological training, I’ve also been training with Hiah Park who is a Korean shaman specialising in ritual dance. We worked with various forms of trance inducing dances, which was awesome as I’m very interested in the hypnotic or transformational qualities of movement.

Is there much interaction with the other performers at the festival or artists in the city?

Robbie and I are here to rehearse leading up to the show on Friday and we’ll try to see as much work as possible during the festival. We’re here for the whole shebang so hoping to get to know other artists in Dublin during this time. We’ll be chatting with the Trans Live Art Salon gang on Saturday so that’ll be super!

What other productions at Live Collision are you looking forward to?

All of it!

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