Welcome to the Siobhan Davies Dance blog

Siobhan Davies Dance is an investigative contemporary arts organisation, founded and led since 1988 by choreographer Siobhan Davies.

Watch this space for updates from our artists, curators, project coordinators and participants on a whole range of our projects.

Next Choreography Festival Film

On the 3rd July, Siobhan Davies Dance hosted the Next Choreography Festival, which celebrated the achievements of young artists and choreographers from Next Choreography and further afield. Each member of Next Choreography had a variety of responsibilities on the day to make sure that the festival ran smoothly; my main role was to document the day through film, in addition to performing with the other young dancers.

Having filmed a session a few months earlier, in which I captured the Next Choreography participants exploring the space using material objects (I wrote a blog post in February 2016 containing the YouTube link if you would like to see the finished film!), I hoped that I would get another chance to film at the Siobhan Davies Dance Studios. So when the opportunity arose for me to document the Festival day, I jumped at the chance!

I really enjoyed filming the day. Throughout the day I moved the camera from room to room, recording the workshop, talk or exhibition that was taking place inside. It was lovely to see how much people were enjoying the Festival, as there was so much on offer for audiences to look at and get involved with.

Probably the most difficult part of the process was editing the film after I had captured all of the footage of the Festival. There were so many interesting parts of the day to share! However, I hope the film does justice to the wonderful day that the Next Choreography participants and the Siobhan Davies Dance team managed to curate.

Take a look at the final montage video below!

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gratification

Working with Lucy Suggate for two sessions has conjured an interest in the manipulation of space and the relationship between dance and arguably unlikely performative spaces such as galleries and museums.

After reading about the new collaboration between these two art genres for ‘Dancing Museums’ I was motivated to question the relationship between audiences and those contrasting forms.

I see a still painting or sculpture for example in its stillness and at face value the art will always represent itself in the same way (although may provide new meanings or concepts at each glance). I do not need much more than what the artist has created on that blank canvas or with those materials in order to create that captured moment. Additionally when we watch dance works we are seeing the development of decisions in the space for time frames that vary between minutes and hours.

As an audience member I feel dance provides itself with a longevity from the moment you arrive. The beginning to the end. A work unravels to become itself throughout its existence. There is not much you can claim at face value without taking into account the substance, that when compared to a painting would be the strokes on the canvas. This then encourages me to consider the idea of maintenance with choreography.

Do we attempt to create a time frame of produce that will grip the audience from start to finish? Can we envisage that our tools are not far from the paint and the paint brush? Therefore can audiences arrive in our work like looking at a still form? With or without stillness?

The art forms are arguably very different therefor incomparable in this audience/artist exchange and there are many elements to consider that I have quickly skimmed over, although I feel at this starting point the relationship between the two particularly in ‘Dancing Museums’ fuels an interest.

Within both forms of art I enjoy committing to works and unravelling the hidden messages that surface to my individual eye. I am aware that I may explore possibilities  deeper inside the simplest of creations, when my mind is left to roam with just enough but by all means not masses of information. These similarities and contrasts spark an invitation to consider the different ways one digests the two Art forms/as well as how as an artist we can channel these thoughts into our creating.

Suggesting that your offering of work is your exhibition, gallery or museum to me encourages a shift in focus. I hope to catch some of the works performed in such locations this summer and explore these concepts in the studio.

 

 

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Process report from the independent project (II): Katharina

tripping on words to make movement – second session

In the second session, we started by making some poetry ourselves, thinking about placement of the words in space and the rhythms implied by that. We also considered the process of extracting/highlighting/choosing information, in making blackout poems. 

I handed out word cards, newspapers, black markers, and scissors, and these were some of the results – 

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(Stephanie)

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(Maisie)

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(Katharina)
IMG_8067

(Maisie)

and a dreamy video of the blacking out that Fran and Bethany were doing –

We found especially interesting Maisie’s approach, moving into the 3 dimensional, and Fran’s idea that a piece of text, divided into sections, could be understood in different ways according to the arrangement of the sections on the page.

We then took our cues from the reading+listening experiment we had done in the first session, and chose to try the following:

One of us would read a piece of text – we chose to use another one of Caroline Bergvall’s, and the reader ended up being myself – and the others would be assigned a semi-often occurring word each (in this example, the words were ‘point’, ‘close’ and ‘face’)  and a corresponding gesture. Whenever that word was heard, the gesture would be acted out. By doing this, we were trying to make visible the act of listening, and of processing information.

Here is an extract of the video documentation.

To perform this task was more difficult than expected, but we decided to go a step further:

The gestures would stay the same, but instead of a word, the performers would listen out for sounds – we chose

‘th’

‘r’ (we noticed that would be relatively easy to pick up on because I pronounce it a bit differently than the others, in American English)

and ‘p’.

We also used a different text: A page from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, a novel well known for its close- to-complete incomprehensibility.

James Joyce, in Finnegans Wake as well as in Ulysses, plays around magnificently and irreverently with sounds, words, meanings, associations, insider jokes, and notions of counts as  intelligible and what doesn’t.

The fact that this was such an exhausting thing for listeners to act out was the crucial bit for me – I am really interested in that heightened state of paying attention and how the immersion and the struggle is made visible by embodying the process via gestures. I also consider this a live act of translation.

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Next Choreography Influence – looking back

The Next Choreography programme has helped me become more conscious on all levels: personally and professionally.

The first term to me felt mostly like a journey, where I was constantly questioning myself and what was around me. I started to read more, exploring new artists and works. I definitely understood that choreography is so much more than just dance movements put together in a sequence… I also learned about group awareness, new ways of exploring and creating movement and improvisation.

After January, everything started to finally sink in: all the new information and knowledge. However, I never stopped asking more questions. And possibly asking for harder and more abstract answers.
Having had the opportunity to meet and work with high profile artists was extremely valuable. You not only learn different perspectives of seeing things, creative approaches, but also get to know their career pathways and build connections.

I vividly recommend this programme to anyone interested in discovering more about movement, choreography, arts, bodies. And also, about yourselves and the ones around you.

I really look forward to the Next Choreography Festival on the 3rd July, see each other’s work and get feedback!

It is hard to believe how quickly time passed!

Maria

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Process report from the independent project: Katharina

tripping on language to make movement – starting point(s)

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 14.32.51

This was the mind map Stephanie and I ‘started’ with – having discussed, filtered, connected a lot of material before we even started the first session with Fran, Maisie, and Bethany.

We were trying to find out how our interests in gesture and body/text relations, respectively, could merge and play off each other – it was a process of figuring out how to name/ describe these inherent connections that we instinctively felt were there.

First session

Caroline Bergvall in her book of poems Fig: Goan Atom 2  plays beautifully with fragmentation, sounds, multilingualism, especially in her piece 16 Flowers.

Bergvall’s book was one of the first things the dancers became transfixed by in the examples of poetry I had brought to show them. We did a few experiments reading this piece of hers [extract]

vagrant rOse paths compressed
hover matin l’aRose in- Mers
a-glimp th ornful umineuse darKorolla
faint Fur st special irrésistible
Lansoft -goRous elovelash petals absorbed
smallred Vibrant lovegash pétales embedded
White throated flatfanned dressLash lovétale
PINkdraw -inGirls lovcrest pétalent Bedded

I was fascinated with the different ways each of us interpreted the ‘rules’ of this piece, and with the effort apparent in the reading of it. It felt to me like people were performing the task of poetry right in front of me.

I tried to further the relationship between the body and the process of comprehension in the listeners by asking the performers to tap a pen on a surface, making a sound, every time they thought they had heard and understood a word. (Bear in mind that it is harder to do when you don’t have the text in front of you.)

This required immense concentration on behalf of the listeners, and produced unexpectedly divergent results – people’s habits of understanding were not in sync at all.

The last part of this endeavor was to try and translate the text into gesture as we were listening – at which point, interestingly, performers sometimes made the same movements upon hearing a certain sound without having paid attention to what each other were doing. It looked like they were faking speaking sign language.

This is the edited recording of the readings and our reflections.

After this first session, Charlotte gave me her observations and, the points I found most useful to take on were:

To be more clear when giving instructions  – have clear in your own mind what the structure and plan is, and where there is space for deviation.
How do I make the relationship between body and text ‘readable’ (haa) to an audience?
In general, what is the audience experience? So communicating framework and context and thinking about relatability.
Since my project is so process-based, my role should be in guiding that process – so I should do more watching and responding to the performers responses – also keeping an eye out on who responds how to the exercises I propose.
Take the luxury to concentrate on one thing and investigate it deeply, rather than trying to do as much as possible in as little time as possible.

Especially for the audience related questions, the Young Artists Feedback Forum will be very useful – and the other points, about guiding a process, I think I will be still learning about for longer,  as I go and keep making work beyond this project.

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