Posts Tagged: reflections

Reflections 15/11/17

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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A Memory

As we gradually approach the end of the academic year, I thought I would share a moment from earlier in the Next Choreography course (from the 28th February to be exact), that had particular poignance for me.

After exploring devised movement during the session, where the dancer worked in collaboration with a fellow class member to improve on an individually devised dance piece, we wrote down in our notebooks a stream of consciousness that summed up what we had felt during the class, each sentence starting with the words “I am going…”.

Hannah volunteered to perform her devised movement work to the class, and did so beautifully. Without having heard my written stream of consciousness, Charlotte suggested I read my internal dialogue as a narration to Hannah’s movements. We started off just performing our separate creations at the same time, not necessarily paying much attention to the other’s work. However, the more she danced, the more observant I was of her accents and of her moments of stillness, and so I adjusted my tone of voice to fit her movements. By the end we were entirely in sync, moulding our own creations to make this epic improvised choreographic piece.

I was surprised and genuinely awe struck by how well our two art forms fitted together. Without having any relation to each other’s work all evening, we had somehow created a piece that combined spoken word and dance, that could have been devised in collaboration from the beginning of the night. I wasn’t the only one to notice it; the entire class was buzzing with excitement by what we had all just witnessed! I left the session that day feeling this incredible sense of satisfaction, and yet I felt blown away in equal measure in experiencing what I had during that session. We were chosen to perform together totally by chance, and somehow ended up being exactly what the other needed to make our pieces whole.

This was only one of the many times Next Choreography has made me think so existentially, but this particular memory I know will stay in my mind for many years to come.

The stream of consciousness that I read out is as follows:

I am going on a journey, only analogue scribbles of scrappy lines. I am going down a path of handwritten nonsense, forward, backward, dip sideways. I am going between the lines, unsure if they feel it too. I am going down linear strips of elephant grey, brown, there white circle, safe. I am going to move, between them, no? Yes. I am going on a ride, far beyond this place, above anything physical; I am going nowhere, yet straight, and hoping all go upwards.

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