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Here, there and in-between: rehearsing over Skype

Petralia, Peter Salvatore (2011) Here, there and in-between: rehearsing over Skype. Performance Research, 16 (3). pp. 113-116. ISSN 1469-9990

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The gathering of people together in a contiguous physical space in order to make something is the most basic description of my typical rehearsal process. My rehearsals have, until recently, always been dictated by the ability to gather a group of collaborators together at the same time and in the same geographical place. In this analogue version of rehearsal, tea breaks and side conversations have dictated as much about the process of creation as the work done in the centre of the space and physical presence has been an implied requirement of participation. Starting in 2007, I have been collaborating with the New York based dance company Tiffany Mills Company in the role of dramaturge and performance coach/director. Because I live and work in England, I am not able to be physically present in the New York dance studio on a regular basis. Instead, we have worked over SKYPE, an Internet-based telephone and videoconferencing programme. The physical space of the rehearsal room has been destabilised as a result of our trans-Atlantic collaboration: our process occurs in a space between my home in England and the dance studio in New York, in a space that contains images and sounds, which acts as both a portal between here and there and as a space in its own right. Johannes Birringer (2004: 172) has described the destabilisation of expected spatial relationships in relation to live performance as “telepresence”. He notes that in Here I come again/Flying Birdman (ADaPT, 2004), which had seven performance sites, seven performance ensembles and seven audiences all linked via multiple screens, that the collaborators were “separate but appear to be together in a shared virtual space of the Internet” (ibid). Birringer, and others, have mostly focused on the delivery of performance using the distribution networks made available by the Internet. In this article, I am concerned primarily with the way that collaborative technologies have shifted the landscape of the rehearsal room, and the rehearsal process itself, radically altering the synchronous way in which we participate in rehearsals.

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