Posts Tagged: responding

Workshop with Matthias Sperling – 1st February 2018

‘What will change when science discovers exactly how our bodies give rise to our minds?’

This is the central question that we were working with a couple of weeks ago during Matthias Sperling’s workshop. The workshop was divided into two sections; in the first half, we discussed his work Now That We Know and in the second half we participated in Loop Atlas, which featured in the larger body of work at Siobhan Davies Dance, material / rearranged / to be in 2017.

Sperling’s two pieces of work inform one another. Now That We Know is a performance lecture piece which imagines that science has proven the relationship between the mind and the body. In a similar strain, Loop Atlas focuses on the idea of looping. Looping is a movement process pioneered by Deborah Hay which lets your body be your movement mentor rather than your mind. In this blog post I’ll be looking at Loop Atlas as I found that its content gave me a lot of food for thought!

Loop Atlas uses different choreographic approaches to investigate the mind-body dichotomy. In Matthias’s workshop we as dance artists were given a space to experiment with this idea. The workshop unearthed some ambitious questions not just about choreography but embodied experience at large. Will there ever be a time when our bodies are truly in sync with our minds? Or is there a time when our bodies take charge? When I’m walking to a familiar destination, when I am a pedestrian, my body is leading me there. My mind is indulging itself somewhere else; it is listening to music or zoning out at whether that is a pigeon or a boot in the distance. My body’s activity brings a lot of shame to my languid mind.

But when we’re in a dance studio this relationship changes in some instances. Dancers are trained to be aware of every body part’s function, from their neck to their right toe. And we engage our minds to do this – our mind is the puppeteer and the body is the puppet. However, there is always an opportunity to let our mind and body forget what we have been rehearsed to believe. Although it sounds unusual, it generates a really productive and fresh outlook as you become a blank canvas for experimentation.

In unconventional performance spaces, I would say that both the mind and body are working cooperatively towards creating and producing movement in new areas. During Matthias’s workshop, I had a heightened awareness of my mind and body where I was very focussed on the activity of each. But, as much as movement is about bodily awareness, it is also to do with forgetfulness and solitude. In a workshop such as this, we need to forget that the philosopher Descartes said the body cannot think without the mind. You really have to detach yourself from the philosophy that the two are separate. For me, I have a dance background, but I also have a lot of experience in the Early Modern and the Renaissance period. This might seem an odd combination, but the two have refreshing links which I stumbled upon unexpectedly. Matthias’s preposition (that I present at the top of this post) that the body gives rise to the mind resonated with me a great deal. Early Modern philosophy is pre-Descartes and it is rooted in the idea that the mind and body are one. In very general terms, the experience of the mind is the experience of the corporeal body. With this in mind, has history come full circle where we have returned to this viewpoint? During Matthias’s choreographic tasks, I remember moving on bodily impulse. Barely can I remember changing my movement because my mind thought it was time to. I will admit that there were odd moments when I could sense my mind overtaking, but I would just suppress the urge and let it go. I became quite comfortable in letting my body do the work and this kind of hypnosis was cleansing and relaxing.

When I walk a familiar route, my mind gives rise to my body. Unfamiliar spaces have a tendency to reinstate the mind’s control. And of course, this is the reason why as Next Choreography students we are always moving around the studio to find different spaces to work in so we can see what limitations they pose on the body and the mind. We are always debating the very nature of movement; whether it is detached from consciousness, or whether it thrives on bodily impulse, and it was great to participate in a workshop which really got us thinking about the origins of movement.

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Copy and Pasting images in movement – With Lea Anderson

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 !

Stella

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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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Book of Words Session 11

After all the talking, thinking, reflecting, absorbing, I felt that it would be great for this week’s session of Next Choreography should focus more on doing – a glimpse into next term, and a physical drawing together of many elements from different sessions within this term.

We did things with eyes closed and ears open, ears closed and eyes open, eyes closed and touching, eyes closed walking backwards. In fact lots of walking backwards! Opening all the senses, opening the possibility of sensing through our backs. Drawing on our need for negotiation, co-operation, and peripheral vision. We composed short things and manipulated them, we put them organised ourselves through various different systems – we watched/experienced the system at work. I was reminded of Ruth Little, Lucy Cash and Charlie Morrissey all rolled into one! We took over the building in two wiggly lines moving backwards, and without realising it or planning, our activity became a performative experience for all of the audience members entering the building to attend the Crossing Borders talk. Quite lovely! I’m looking forward to all that next term might bring.

Here is our book of words for the session

Book of Words Session 11
Walking backwards in lines
Walking Backwards in lines
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Watching, Responding & Listening

Watching:
I can feel more than I can see (being the follower)

Responding:
What to do when there’s no more support? (being the mover)
In the space, when the hand was removed, I still wanted to feel

Listening:
After 5 minutes of continuous writing, I knew from my own experiences that not everything I would hear from my partners script would make sense immediately. The thought process was a little slow but effective. Obviously we would not know all, but I feel as our last words of our own interpretation rang true of what we initially meant. We listened to the things we didn’t hear. Read in between the lines and formed an understanding.

 

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The moving body responding

It’s week 3, and in advance of other artists coming in and us starting to go and see stuff, I wanted to focus our attentions this evening on the nature of noticing, witnessing, listening and responding. But I also felt that we haven’t spent much time moving together yet, and I wanted to allow the session to be about meeting and responding through/with our bodies. I let the group choose between more moving or less moving. They chose more, and so the responding and listening and witnessing was probably more through moving than through talking. This culminated in sharing those experiences, through writing.

In discussion Aura and Emily

Aura and Emily sharing their writing

 

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