Posts Tagged: improvisation

Next Choreography Festival Rehearsals – With Martin Hargreaves

The NC festival rehearsals are in full swing, with only 3 weeks to go ! We have be running all over the Siobhan Davies building: from dancing in the lift, the changing rooms, the parlour and even outside in the court yard (let’s be grateful for the sunny weather over the past few days !). The Festival is looking to be a busy day, with a huge variety of choreographic pieces, art work, soundscapes and installations. The audience will also be welcomed to get involved with a workshop and several participatory pieces.

The NC cohort have also been working on an ensemble piece with guest artist Martin Hargreaves. This is focussing on the principle ideas of Signature, Theft & Translation and to what extent are these possibilities or what happens when we use these ideas within dance or choreography. Martin asked us to all devise a short phrase of movement, words or drawing which represented each of these words. Surprisingly, the greatest challenge for us as we approached this task was defining these words. Many of us soon realised that our personal ‘signature’  within movement, is perhaps also theft; we acquire gestures and habits from others and subconsciously are always ‘stealing’ –  we can never dance in a vacuum, as such. ‘Translation’ we decided felt less intentional or destructive than ‘Theft’, which to us symbolised taking movement or art that isn’t ours. Not simply copying, but also claiming ownership of it. Problems surrounding cultural appropriation were also stirred up with the idea of ‘Theft’ and how certain dance styles become appropriated by the mainstream media, with little regard to the original origins. Subsequent to devising our individual three pieces, we then worked in groups to combine our work. This lead to even more layers of watching other groups, recreating, remembering and recollecting their work, until we had several ‘meta’ works, all of which are intricate copies, translations and memories of other people’s work. And yes, it made our brains ache too when we did it!

The NC team have one more rehearsal with Martin this thursday before the dress run in two weeks time. I am interested to see how the piece will be finished, and if there are any more layers can add to the piece. By it’s nature, the spontaneity of the piece is a key element, so I am hoping that it won’t be a ‘finished’ or ‘polished’ piece as such, but rather a continuous exploration, even on the day itself.

If you’re keen to see this work, or simply have a passion for creativity, dance and community make sure you come to the NC Festival on Sunday 9th July at Siobhan Davies Dance.

Look forward to seeing you there !

Thank you,

Stella

Photo by Gorm Ashurst

Photo by Gorm Ashurst

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Improvisation Scores with Seke

I see this map nearly everyday and on the way back from Next Choreography. It always stood out to me because it is so short and uncomplicated compared to the other tube maps. I’m not sure why, but today it reminded me of the improvisation scores we created last week (1/12/16) at NC.

Just to clarify, a score could be any rule or structure used in improv, for example you can’t stop moving. We decided it would be a good idea to create a score where all the dancers either had to be in eye contact with one other dancer or have their eyes shut, easier said than done, that’s for sure. We had more than one score, just to complicate things – like laughing if you heard someone else laugh or trying to go up or down at the same time as the other dancers (very difficult with your eyes shut.)

Going back to the image, the white circles with the line between the two for some reason,  reminded me of trying to dance with my eyes shut and blindly searching for someone to make eye contact with. When dancing, we somehow had a sense of where we were going and how to get to each other, without the need for vision.

Thank you Seke for the eye-opening session, hope you feel better Amy !unnamed

Stella

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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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‘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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Book of Words Session 5

Our book of words for the second session with Robbie Synge. A lovely long improvisation, a transportation into ‘presence’ and some fascinating conversations about why we bother with what we do. Deep! Thank you once again Robbie for being with us – we look forward to catching your new work, ‘Douglas’ at The Place, in April.

Book of Words Session 5 term 2
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