Next Choreography 2015-16

Time is…

Time is or can be uncomfortable.
Time is timeless.
Time is what we want it to be.
Time is a luxury.
Time is blood.

Last Thursday, Charlotte Spencer led a 45min improvisation session and fed us with suggestions like: exploring time, moving constantly, to zoom in and focus in detailed movements of our own body and also to move as slowly as possible.
Right after we did a 4min task of writing constantly and each sentence we wrote had to start with “Time is…”. The sentences above are the ones that caught my curiosity the most from all the ones I composed.

From my experience while moving, I found it challenging to adapt myself gradually and not in an abrupt way from one suggestion to another. After the exercise, I had a “click” in my mind when Charlotte shared her vision on how hard it can be to move as slowly as we were doing: because we focus our attention in such a small part of our body and in its motion, that its likely we loose the reference points around it; we stop seeing the whole picture and its easy to think that every move feels enormous and that we’ve moved considerably in space.

As a group, we didn’t know how long the improvisation session took. In the end, we supposed it would have passed around 15/20min. We were extremely surprised when Charlotte said it actually took 45min. It was interesting to analyse our relationship with time and how our notion of time passing when doing certain actions.

Maria

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Vertical

Le Patin Libre: Vertical 
At Somerset House 14th January 2016
Maisie Sadgrove

On Thursday evening we made our way to Somerset House to watch a performance of contemporary ice skating. This was the extent of my prior knowledge. The ice rink was a smooth glossy platform lit by purples and blues surrounded by the royal like architecture of Somerset House. The five dancers (four men and one woman) entered their clear canvas in casual clothing, tones of yellow, grey and white. As they stand in stillness the outside air blows their shirts in the wind.

As the piece began it was hard to not notice the marks being made upon the ice by the blades of their shoes. Some were clear and direct, some at an angle churning up the ice like piles of dust. The ice became a conscious element of the piece evolving with the movement being performed upon it. By chance as the wind blew throughout the piece the excess fragments of ice blew swept across the floor which created a beautiful layer to the setting. The dancers, unlike your usual performance on ground, could weave seamlessly in and out of formations standing like statues. The gliding was effortless and almost hypnotising. At times the expeditious spinning and gravity defying jumps were terrifying as an audience member but they showed great skill and ability throughout the whole piece.

A clear humanity was emitted from the dancers through their focus. They gave a sense of individuality with alternating solos and differentiating qualities. Despite this they came together harmoniously in times of unison. Their connection between one another allowed them to speed up and slow down without a second glance. The fusion of contemporary and skating was structured seamlessly showing no division. Whilst watching the dancers I was curious what came first, the contemporary or the ice skating, because both were executed so well.

The connection with the audience really eradicated the fourth wall usually holding boundary between front facing audiences and performance. There was personality and playfulness and it was clear the dancers enjoyed the performance just as much as their audience.

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Reflexive

In October I had the opportunity to discuss my aims with Charlotte Spencer. Not just within the Next Choreography program but also in my general development. I joined the program feeling that I aspired to have involvement in the dance industry although it seemed I couldn’t break away from the sense that I was still a student waiting to feel a part of it. This includes having knowledge about current artists and work of all genres. Especially after moving to London a year ago, a location considered to be the hub of artistic opportunities. The habit of studying within a course and waiting for the industry to come to you was something I moved away from after joining the program. It opened up my peripheral vision encouraging me to look elsewhere. Being involved in something external to my studies immediately encouraged me to stop waiting and start exploring. I feel a lot more confident and active in my own development instead of relying on my place of study to have the ability to cover all my individual aims.

Another focus of mine was to continue to challenge myself when creating/choreographing. I usually stop at the first or second exploration rather than to keep asking for more from my idea. I was essentially limiting the possibilities and my creative potential. Since working within the Next Choreography program I have been able to continue asking questions about all elements of my creative input. Working on projects to perform and considering why we stand here and the audience sit there, why we finish at this point, why we choose to digest direction in this way. Now I feel like there are less ‘loop holes’. No decision is made without consideration and experimentation. As we break up for Christmas I know I give myself more opportunities to push my creative tool box and move away from the habit of “that’ll do”.

Our first term of sessions has come to an end for Christmas. Time has flown by and 12 weeks of collaboration, creation, experimentation, questioning and playing seem to all merge into a pathway towards where I stand now. My outlook and intake. The process of conceptualising ideas, inspirations, experiences and other art forms including every day life events. The sessions, as if my mind has become a video camera, have widened the frame increasing the possibilities and ideas I stumble across.

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Ben Duke’s Workshop 10/12/15

We focused more on poetry in this session with Ben Duke which I found really interesting. We created three poems, one inspired from a chosen object, and the other two were inspired by an image.

My third poem was inspired by an image of earth.

We had three rules before making this poem:

– It had to be in first person
– It had to be made in relation to the image
– We had to consider the five senses

‘I am a twister of clouds, crashing together like waves.
I am space and the sky. I have no limitations.
Spirals of white intimidate me, surround me.
When the deep, luring blue confines me, I relax. I can breathe.
It is fresh, there is no cold nor any heat.
I am isolated. But not forever alone.
There are frightening wisps, they sweep me off my feet.
I am caught. I am swirling. No way out.
I am being swallowed whole by this clashing of white and blue. Light and dark.
I see an outline.
I feel calm. But I can’t feel.
I am a twister. A wave of crashing clouds’

We had to turn one of our poems into physical movement. I found this difficult as I had chosen this poem that I had written with the consideration of showing the atmosphere. I thought it would be easy as I felt my poem was quite atmospheric, but I actually found it quite difficult and couldn’t work out how to show the atmosphere so I gave myself three keywords to help me with the process: twisting, crashing, clashing. I found it challenging and enjoyed it but I wasn’t entirely pleased with the outcome of my physical movement.

One thought that Ben Duke shared with us, has really stayed with me: “These poems are fiction, but let’s imagine they tell us something about you.”

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From Ben Duke’s workshop

Last Thursday, Next Choreography had a poetry workshop with Ben Duke, based on his latest work, “Paradise Lost” performance.
I’d like to share the 3 poems I wrote from the tasks:

(1)
‘The long neck behaviour
The Blues opportunity
To challenge bravery.’

(2)
‘The unwanted commitments
The innocence beneath
her naive behaviour.
The hierarchy she must follow,
her endeavour.
The tradition,
the youth that never lived.
The irresponsibility
the patterns never stopped.
The known yet not assumed, Guilt
in all the conventions.’

(3)
‘There is an odd smell,
Like an amputation or a nightmare
keen into self-resignation.
I should have ran from it
instead of drowning myself into this,
this pretended protection.
And they will keep preaching
“They love me”
And they will keep trying
Trying to drag me,
drag me to their praying circle
with no logical key.’

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‘instructions for the uninitiated performer in the intent of making a home’

MAKING A HOME AD

At 26 Caledonian Road, N1 London, there was once a deli. There will be a deli again. In the meantime, there is space to be inhabited. Abandoned, to be reclaimed, a vessel for dreams, projections and plans of MAKING A HOME.  

What makes a house a home? How can we identify ourselves in a space which is not our own, only a temporary roof, yet so full of what we used to be?

A group of artists, curated by Tatiana Delaunay and myself, took over Geddes Gallery with their own notions of the passage of time, formations of memory, and the trauma of renting on November 20th, 2015.  We were questioning the relationship between a space and its inhabitants in the urban context, and more particularly in London metropolis, constantly changing.

For this exhibition, I created a choreographic/ performative piece called ‘instructions for the uninitiated performer in the intent of making a home’. It was inspired by the Happening instructions developed in the Fluxus movement of the 1960s, for example by Wolf Vostell or Allan Kaprow, and by Charlotte Spencer’s ‘Walking Stories’ and the exercise we devised on the Next Choreography programme in response to her piece (see Maria’s post below!)

'instructions for the uninitiated performer in the intent of making a home' by Katharina Joy Book, 2015

‘instructions for the uninitiated performer in the intent of making a home’ by Katharina Joy Book, 2015

Throughout the day, we gave out sheets of paper with these ‘instructions’ to the visitors of the gallery; it was intended to inspire them to go on a treasure hunt of sorts, look in places and corners of the rooms that they wouldn’t have otherwise, and discover new ideas about what it means to feel ‘at home’ in a space.

'letters to former tenants' - an installation created by Tatiana Delaunay, 2015.

‘letters to former tenants’ – an installation created by Tatiana Delaunay, 2015.

Glimpses of installations by Katy Jalilipour and Stephanie Johnston, Geddes Gallery, 2015.

Glimpses of installations by Katy Jalilipour and Stephanie Johnston, Geddes Gallery, 2015.

The Geddes gallery isn’t really a gallery. Not in the White Cube sense, anyway. It is an old house on the corner of Caledonian Road and Keystone Crescent, consisting of an eclectic collection of rooms: There is the entrance area, what used to be the storefront, lined with rows and rows of white shelves that formerly held an abundance of Italian treats; the back rooms on the ground floor, grimy, dim and somehow otherworldly, mainly used for storage in deli times; narrow, fragile staircases; a kitchen space with once-white tiles which, for some unapparent reason, has a shower crammed into one of its corners; two dilapidated bedrooms with flowery wallpaper and rock hard beds.

When the shop owner retired after more than 40 years last summer, an array of sculptures and other artwork was found in the basement of 26 Caledonian Road – they belonged to artist Jim Geddes, a neighbour who had asked for them to be kept there. It was then decided that his art should be exhibited – and then curator Cornelia Marland got in touch with the landlord to arrange a series of exhibitions that will continue until March 2016, when the house will be renovated and become a deli once more.

Currently, though, this peculiar place, five minutes from busy and booming Kings Cross station, feels like a time capsule; when stumbled upon, it is an entirely unexpected and charming surprise.

what I call an 'accidental installation': a discarded pipe in one of the upstairs bedrooms at Geddes Gallery.

what I call an ‘accidental installation’: a discarded pipe in one of the upstairs bedrooms at Geddes Gallery.

 With ‘instructions’ I wanted to recreate this sense of discovery and ambiguity for our audience. Tying into that agenda, our artists created installations and immersive spaces throughout the house, blurring the lines between fact and fiction by making it unclear what had been found and left in the rooms and what had been placed there by them. The instructions laid out for the visitor – ‘performers’ did not need to be followed step by step, or be taken literally at all – this was entirely up to them to decide. Ultimately, some of our visitors did spend many minutes going through every single of the suggested motions, understanding them as prescriptive; others seemed to think it was just a nice piece of writing, not for them to act upon; and then for some, it may have sparked one or two new ideas and helped them connect to the building.

It is worth mentioning that we also used ‘instructions’ as an input for improvisation when we devised the performances, the so-called ‘acts of inhabiting’, that took place during the evening on November 20th.

'recipe of the day' -  by Tatiana Delaunay and Katharina Joy Book, Geddes Gallery, 2015.

‘recipe of the day’ – by Tatiana Delaunay and Katharina Joy Book, Geddes Gallery, 2015.

Making this piece was part of my current choreographic research: I am interested in daily bodily habits and our ways of navigating familiar and unknown architectures; I am experimenting with ways of documenting our quotidian ways of moving, for example by tracing, drawing maps, or using strategies of intervening/ interrupting habitual movements. The question of what happens when choreographer/ artist and audience enter into co-authorship of a piece is very interesting to me as well.

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Instructions Task

Last week we worked on the instructions I prepared. I wanted the participants to feel free, to allow themselves to feel the space and time, and also encourage them to increase their body awareness. I divided the score in 2 sections: the first part was more focused on each individual while the second was centred on the group.

In my perspective I felt the dancers translated quite literally the instructions into movement and it made me think that more than interpreting the instructions, they reacted to them – which I also found really curious and interesting.

I found some of their choices really compelling about the setting: the use of the benches in different positions and the spoken words.

After observing their response a number of times I realised that the sense of group and belonging needed to be emphasised so I decided to adapt a few things: changing some of the dancers’ positions in space so they could finish together as a whole instead of separated in the room by the end of the piece.

I feel really grateful for having had the opportunity to work on my set of instructions. It helped me considerably to develop my choreographic understanding and it made me more conscious about editing processes.

You can find the videos here:

Clip 1 – first version from the dancers

Clip 2 – second version after editing

Please find below the pictures of the original score of instructions.

Instructions 1
Instructions 2

 

Maria

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Observations – 12/11/15

As a smaller group, we looked closely at a few senses we use and were able to zoom in much more closely with our eyes closed.

Throughout the small tasks Charlotte had given us that made us close our eyes and focus more deeply on the feel of certain textures and what we hear, we gathered some sentences and a few words each from our personal experiences. The tasks that struck me most were when we were in pairs, guiding the our partner backwards who had their eyes closed, and an extension of this when we were all in a line guiding each other backwards.

I found it challenging, out of my comfort and I discovered I did not trust myself with this task at all.

From the four tasks we were given, we created a text of our own formed from our own words and sentences. This was mine:

“I was so aware of everything. Voice, movement immersed around me. Surrounded. I was so aware of everything”

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Mindful, Trails

Exploring surfaces of the space with our eyes closed, creating mental images and questions through touch. What did I discover?

Heat, Mobility, Draft, Dust, Trails, Danger

Large cables running under a smooth door with a cold draft and a metal shield  with small circular holes radiating heat. The longer I questioned what was in front of me, the more it did not matter. I stopped wondering what these shapes or objects could be or lead to and started to enjoy the variety.

Sitting again eyes closed, in a location of my choice. Listening.

Contact, Direction, Location

I sat catching sound from nearby then slowly sinking into a deeper focus. Could I hear people upstairs? Muffled noises to my left made me cautious of where I had chosen to stay. How close could they be? Can I make out what they’re saying? There was a constant play between listening closely and listening to nearby surroundings. I forgot I was sitting in a room (possibly alone) facing a wall with my eyes closed and suddenly felt blended with the sounds I was focusing so hard on. When Charlotte eventually tapped me on the shoulder to say I could go back upstairs I suddenly felt more sensitive to where I was. It made me feel extremely relaxed and I am surprised how satisfying it is to just stop and listen.

Walking backwards. Eyes closed.

Floating, Gentle

Firstly we walked with partners leading the direction, light pressure with their hands on our shoulders guided us through the space that slowly evaporated into nothing. To me. I eventually stopped wondering where I was, how many times I had gone in circles or how close I was to the walls. Walking backwards seemed easy, natural and grounding. After what felt like 5 minutes we were instructed to think of our favourite place. Now it was not so easy to walk backwards and react to my partners touch. Then I found my favourite place. We described them out loud to our partners and this made me completely remove myself from what my body was doing. After being so used to shifting backwards it almost felt ‘backwards’ to walk forwards.

Backwards walking with the group.

Weight, hands, adjust, step, who is behind, look, eyes, hair, why, where

We created a line with our hands on the shoulders or waist of those in front of us. To be told you will walk around a building backwards in a line is daunting at first. You almost can not believe it will be possible. Then we moved through the space and slowly stepped out the door and towards the stairs. We had 30 minutes to explore. Weaving through desks, into small corners, up and down stairs I realised I’d set myself little techniques for approaching certain challenges. I was very aware of the weight distribution in my body as well as Kirstin who was in front of me. Every now and then I would accidentally step on a foot or be stepped on but we kept going. We really committed to experimenting with help from our leader. Eventually it was nice to be back in the studio knowing there was no more ‘blind walking’. I had to fight my urge to look where I was going. Playing between walking or running forwards and backwards made me realise that if you try something for long enough your body gets used to the sensations.

We combined chosen words from what we had built up after each exercise.

CONTACT, LOCATION, FLOATING IN THE AIR, GENTLE, WHO IS BEHIND?

again rearranging

LOCATION, CONTACT, WHO IS BEHIND? GENTLE, FLOATING IN THE AIR

again

TRAILS, IN THE AIR, GENTLE, CONTACT, WHO IS BEHIND ME

We finally organised our words and read them out with options of pause, repetition or emphasis. Anything we felt appropriate to our experience.

TRAILS…. IN THE AIR…. GENTLE… CONTACT, WHO IS BEHIND ME?….      TRAILS

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