Process report from the independent project: Katharina

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

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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]

  1. vagrant rOse paths compressed
  2. hover matin l’aRose in- Mers
  3. a-glimp th ornful umineuse darKorolla
  4. faint Fur st special irrésistible
  5. Lansoft -goRous elovelash petals absorbed
  6. smallred Vibrant lovegash pétales embedded
  7. White throated flatfanned dressLash lovétale
  8. 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.