As we move into the fourth week I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the first few sessions as Next Choreography. The last three weeks have laid the foundations for this course; in the first session we had an in-depth discussion on the definitions of choreography, and in the second session we created choreography scores in groups, taking inspiration from the methods Joseph Burrows used to devise Speaking Dance (2006). Notation, or dance scores, can be a great method to trace and translate choreographies, and it was very insightful to see how each group built on Burrows’ principle to develop unique rhythmic structures. We shared our work with each other towards the end of the session, providing an opportunity to take on honest feedback for our own development as choreographers.
At the end of last week’s session, we were all invited to participate in the work OK Future by dance artists, Lucy Suggate and Connor Schumacher. The work has toured the UK and Europe where every performance space has been different. Different participants, different settings, different movements. This idea, in part, points towards one of the questions OK Future probes at. How do social environments control behaviour? In what ways can movement and consciousness be manipulated by the presence of unpredictable, human activity? Why do we let other people mediate the way we want to move when, paradoxically, we can’t be certain how they will move themselves? OK Future looks at the inner anxieties that bodies experience when we feel socially exposed. The work challenges the existence of social etiquettes by creating an alternative performance space which does not let us conform to predetermined, behavioural codes. Very exciting stuff!
I would like to share some of my personal reflections just here. I don’t really want to divulge too much information about the piece, so if you haven’t seen it then please read past this bit. My very rough, post-performance notes include:
The illusion of the inflated silver balloon… what was it doing?
At what point did you stop caring or feel unawkward?
The role of music in the piece – its trance-like, somatic purpose.
How did other people react to my movement?
Did we have full agency in the piece? What was the role of the voice-over?
Party? Release? Bonding?
What is the boundary between dancer and spectator?
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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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Last week at Next Choreography, we had the pleasure of inviting choreographer and dance artist, Lucy Suggate to join us. Amongst her varied free-lance work, Lucy is the dance artist working with Siobhan Davies Dance on the Dancing in Museums project so it was great to have her with us to share some glimpses of her own solo practice.
I particularly love inviting guest artists in to our sessions at Next Choreography because it gives me the rare opportunity to both join in myself with the responsibility of leading the session, and allows me to observe the group working from more of a distance. Last week I witnessed everyone dancing with an impressive combination of abandon and concentration. I felt quietly proud.
A few thoughts from Lucy that have stayed with me:
How does material meet with space?
How can we attend to many things at once?
How might we notate/make a score for what we do?
Lucy will be with us again in a month, I look forward to seeing what might develop from that time together.
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