the maker is
an extension of bodies
the vehicle for expression
for framed intention
a site for experience
the maker is
an extension of bodies
the vehicle for expression
for framed intention
a site for experience
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?
And so the end of Next Choreography 2016 -17 has come, and what a year it has been !
The Festival was a vibrant, welcoming and slightly hectic day of dance, creativity and ummm cake … lots of cake. I was taken aback about how open minded and willing to participate the audience were, especially throughout the ‘welcome dance’ and the interesting lift experience.
I am overwhelmed by what I have learnt and achieved on the NC course at Siobhan Davies Dance, and so grateful to have this enriching opportunity. If you are interested in creating, meeting new people and up for a challenge I would highly recommend the NC course for next year. It is so much more than dance and choreography, so don’t let a lack of experience put you off – we had people from a whole host of different backgrounds from drama to art, which only made our experience more valuable. My perception of dance and choreography will never be the same again and I am so glad for this !
Thank you SDD so much and I can’t wait to join YAAG next year.
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 !
Pictures in fashion magazines look weird enough. But what if you cut off half the picture then recreated it ? This was the main focus of our NC session today, led by the amazing Lea Anderson.
Initially, the task seemed simple – look at the picture, copy it. Soon enough we realised the intricacy and precision involved in copying an image – the focus of the subject, the angle, the position of the feet, hands, shoulders, the expressions. To add to the complexity, the photos had all been cut and pasted in various ways – some were just the faces of models, others a knee and a hand, one was just feet. This left us with the freedom to decide what to do with the rest of the body if it was not specified in the photo.
The most startling result of this session was watching how different everyone one’s responses were. We worked in pairs, and everyone followed the same set of images in the exact same order. Yet, each pair has such completely contrasting ideas and methods of copying. Despite this, we could all identify the images each pair did, and when one pair were stuck and asked ‘Which picture comes next?’, we all knew exactly where in the sequence the pair were and which picture came after it. The images could be clearly seen in each pair but the transitions and context of them were completely individual.
This idea of sequence and identifying patterns has left me wondering at what point does one image end and another begin ? Can we ever copy ? What is it about each image that made it recognisable in the different pairs ?
Thank you Lea !
Last Thursday, we were given a task to experiment with composing 5 objects we brought from home, as well as items Charlotte had brought in for us to use i.e. paper clips, post-it notes, pencils etc.
I didn’t really think about what I was composing but I knew I wanted to started from the corner and let the composition ‘grow’, after some tweaking and re-arranging I realised that this composition was a very strong reflection of me, my mind and my view on my life in recent times.
When everyone was finished composing we all looked at and discussed each others and found there was a sense of personality and an individual way of thinking and creating in everyone’s composition. Even though I found mine to be personal to me more than a reflection on how I work, I have realised that everything I create is always personal to me or something that is important to me. When creating a physical work, I like to work from the outside in, which shows from when I started working from the corners in this picture.
While looking at my composition, keywords were thrown out and there were a few that really stuck out to me: Frantic, placed, danger. I found it interesting that ‘placed’ was suggested between frantic and danger because even though I placed everything carefully down so that nothing would fall or move, I found the only objects to be purposely placed were the post-it notes and hand gel. As you can see, they are separated from everything and not connected to anything, for me this was a representation of myself. A feeling of vulnerability but also safety as it is separated from everything but cannot be harmed. The charger and lead, water bottle, and vaseline were a representation of my life, symbols for things that keep me alive, things I rely on, (the charger and lead – to stay connected and attached to people, the water bottle – health, vaseline – cleanliness, looking after myself), the paper clips being attached to the lead and clip is a representation that these are things I never want to let go of or lose. The pencils are the major thoughts and situations that invade my mind, even the green folder attachments represent the loose ends that are in the back of my mind but are still clear to me.
It’s honestly really scary to me how much the composition told me about myself because during the creative process, it was all subconscious and once I stopped and had a really good look at what I had been doing, it was only then I saw how much it related back to me. This task felt was very therapeutic and has actually helped me understand myself better surprisingly.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
In July we said a fond farewell to our lovely first cohort of the Next Choreography programme. It has been exciting to witness many big developments in their creative work and confidence over the last year and I wish them all well. Our final session together was a visit to the Barbican during that amazing Station to Station project, followed by a final discussion and then delicious dinner and drinks! It was brilliant!
In our final discussion, I asked everyone in the group to make one pledge/commitment to their on-going artistic practice over the next 6 months. And here they all are. Thank you all for a wonderful year, and good luck for everything that comes next!
We had the absolute pleasure of welcoming filmmaker and curator, Lucy Cash back last week. As part of the Next Choreography Festival we are planning to screen a selection of films and Lucy is supporting the curation of that aspect of the festival.
Exciting, mind expanding conversations were teased out through the session and I left excited, curious, uplifted and hugely impressed by my wonderful Next Choreography group – they are AMAZING! (Like a proud mother!)
Here is our book of words for the week and a picture from the discussion.