Better Get Hit in Your Soul – Dancer Feature – Shayne Johnson
DJD’s upcoming production, Better Get Hit in Your Soul is dances inspired by the music, life and times of Charles Mingus. The show was originally mounted in 2013 as Kimberley Cooper’s first work as Artistic Director. For company dancer, Shayne Johnson this is also the second time he will be performing the show. A remount is a unique experience that doesn’t always happen. Here’s what he has to say about Better Get Hit in Your Soul the second time around.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE SETTING THE SHOW THE FIRST TIME?
Setting the show the first time was quite a physical, mental and emotional journey. This is true for the setting of any show however; Better Get Hit in Your Soul pushed the Company in a unique way. We had not traveled down a path quite like this one before. From constantly jumping into mid-air to grab, hang and swing from the bar in the sky (resembling a bass bow), getting very intimate with your fellow dancers and constantly going inside ourselves to find true expression through Mingus’ music, we took a leap of faith together and entered a new state of mind getting into the psyche of the man himself.
HOW MUCH DID YOU KNOW ABOUT CHARLES MINGUS THEN?
My knowledge of him at the beginning of this creation was quite limited. I knew the opening track of the show, Haitian Fight Song, and that was basically it. I had no idea what a brilliant and troubled individual he was. I can tell you that we learned much about him in a very short period of time. From his brilliant compositions to his unpredictable behaviour, we got a glimpse into a world of Jazz like never before.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE SHOW FOR YOU THIS TIME?
It is true that Jazz loves maturity. We are constantly evolving as human beings, as well as Jazz artists. I feel more grounded 5 years later as a person, interpreter of Kim Cooper’s work and as an artist. There’s a sense of ease (I find) revisiting this show. The elements of challenge still remain, however the approach to the work itself has shifted. Whether it being familiar with the choreography or knowing that a challenging time signature is approaching, the attack of the movement resonates in your body in a much more familiar way. Performing this show again allows me to have a deeper connection with the music as well my portrayal of character roles. It’s a beautiful thing to revisit a gem from the past.