Tuesday, October 28, 2008

structure of 'grappling' - a description

Alex moves her hands, fingers raking Louise’s abdomen.
I wonder if it is my place to tell Louise the words that should leave her mouth:
“I just want to dance”.
What’s this section about?
It’s about an integral connection between sound and movement,
It’s about an intimate physical relationship,
Its about empathy.
Its about the natural, organic movement that so effortlessly emerges in carrying out a task.
Louise breathes in, speaking;
Breaths out, speaking;
And Alex walks away
Shaking head, arms, legs…
Shaking it out.
She does this to clear herself
Like an etch-a-sketch shaken clean,
Ready to be filled with the next image.
Its about revealing process,
About revealing engagement and disengagement,
Revealing both focussed and diffused attention.

Then Louise says,
“And now Alex will dance”
In actual fact, they both start to dance.
A new section addressing persona.
Alex begins with a strong sense of performance persona,
A 10, on a scale of 1-10.
She’s trained in Flamenco dancing
And her Flamenco dancer persona is one of fearlessness, passion…
And with each repetition of her phrase
Alex attempts to strip a bit of this persona away.
But what is underneath?

Is true self ever revealed?
Does it matter?
Or does it reveal enough of her just to see her struggle in her attempt to strip it away.
Louise also dances a repeated phrase
But with each repetition aiming to strengthen persona.
She hovers around 6, a 6 on a scale from 1-10
Louise confesses to being a “cool body” contemporary dancer.
I confess to adopting a “Ms Mello” persona;
A facility employed to hide my nerves.

As they both dance with crescendo-ing and decrescendo-ing personas
Louise gives Alex suggestions of images to physicalise
spontaneously inserting them into her phrase.
Alex’s phrase is in a constant state of disruption but
She always has the option to refuse Louise’s suggested images.

As Alex strips away her Flamenco persona
And starts to work with image,
A new persona appears.
I recognise it from my own dancing.
The butoh persona:
Eyes closed, quiet body, a patient, slow-moving state, waiting for image to take hold
In both form and feeling, body and mind.

Alex and Louise both danced butoh with me as students.
The butoh persona is a practised one
And as Alex settles into this,
Louise dances heartily
Performing more and more.
The cool body persona strong
And I feel removed from her experience.
She becomes a dancing object for me.
I impressed with her limber body, her stamina, her training.
After Louise exhausts her image suggestions to Alex and the repetition of her phrase,
They begin another version of their solo material.
This material has embedded in it:
Improvised movements of internal/external which emerged out of my studies with Annie last year and
“thinking spaces”
We’ve had lots of discussion about these “thinking spaces”
Both Alex and Louise admitting that they are now pre-occupied with thinking about thinking.,
How are thoughts formulated?
Once reflection on a thought takes place
You’ve lost the moment of thinking that thought.

An now we’ve devised a mechanism for moments of self-judging, a movement for the recognition of self-assessment

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Grappling - A new work

I have ceased dancing on boxes for the time being as Nicola and I have both launched back into full-time teaching and embarked upon a new process of making with two recent University of Bedfordshire graduates: Louise Douse and Alex Stains. They are both experienced improvisers and we did 12 weeks of butoh work together last year so when I asked them to make some duet material that contained: moving through spaces, pushing, rolling, following, leading with the head and borrowing material; they went about it with ease. Then we ripped this duet material apart and they created solo material with “thinking spaces” – “thinking spaces” are gaps in the set material where they can stop and think. The decision to insert these gaps came about from the realisation that:

“The most interesting moments are the moments of decision, where nothing is set – where decisions are made about where and when to start the next movement….like when Louise stops and decides to watch Alex. It makes a nice connection between the two of them and its unplanned” (choreographic journal notes 6 Oct 08).

We played with repetition of the movement sequence and the thinking spaces. The movement phrase that each of them had created was fairly short, about two minutes. I had them repeat their phrases together, at the same time for ten minutes and I discovered:

“They’ve opened up a bit, revealing their tiredness, they’re newfound camaraderie…feeling the moments of when to hold, wait, rest, listen – its about creating moments for listening – fabricated in a way that the unexpected or at least structuring a potential unexpectedness. I like the rhythm of watching decisions being made” (choreographic journal notes 6 Oct 08).

And so where do we go from here? To show the body’s response to the thoughts in the “thinking space” perhaps…