Friday, November 21, 2008

Grapping is coming together

Grappling is formed of seven sections. The order in which these sections are performed is a decision made by Alex and Louise as the work unfolds and indicated by the arrangement of stones in the performance space. Each stone represents one of the seven sections. Lighting states, sound, music and clothing choices are also made by the performers over the duration of the work. Each section contains several points of intent between which the performers’ attention shifts. These points are identified section by section below:

Section which begins with Louise saying, “And now Alex will Dance”
*Louise repeats a physically demanding phrase of movement.
*Louise gauges her level of performance persona on a scale of 1-10 (ten indicating a maximum level of persona present) and says the number out loud.
*Louise gives Alex images to embody as Alex works in a butoh persona
*Alex can refuse any image suggested to her by Louise.
*Louise plays with ambiguities in terms of becoming exhausted through the repetition of a physically demanding movement phase and ‘performing’ exhaustion because she knows this is the expectation of the choreographer for this section.
*Option to ‘opt-out’: This is an option embedded throughout the work where, if either Alex or Louise feels that they loose focus or connection with the tasks, with each other or become self-conscious from being watched, then they stop what they are doing. To indicate this, Alex begins a series of shaking movements (Alex chose to do this shaking because it is what she does to mentally and physically prepare for performance) and Louise shakes her foot/feet (Louise chose to do this as it is a recurring habit in her daily living when she needs time to stop and reflect).

Manipulation Section: Alex moves Louise
*Both Alex and Louise play with different types of focus of their eyes. This includes two types of gaze used in butoh work: ‘crystal eye’ which has the characteristics of opening peripheral vision without fixing the focus on one thing and ‘meditation eye’ which has the characteristics of being half open with a soft unfocussed gaze. They also use direct focus, ‘a conversational eye’ where the gaze is fixed either into each other’s eyes or into the eyes of a member of the audience. Finally, they can also use a ‘persona eye’ where the focus of the eye is withdrawn but the eye is open.
*Both Alex and Louise play with sound. Sound can be made either on the exhale or the inhale. This type of sound work takes its inspiration from both a breathing exercise (pranayama) and a meditation used in yoga where places in the body (the base of the spine, the sacrum, the solar plexus, the heart, the throat, the eyebrow centre and the crown of the head) correlate to sounds.
*Alex shifts her intent behind the way she manipulates Louise physically. Alex sometimes moves Louise with the intent to extract sound from her (like playing an instrument), other times Alex moves Louise with the intent to ‘wake-up’ one of the above listed areas of Louise’s body.
*Louise has the option to put tension into the muscles of her body so that she cannot easily be moved.
*Alex and Louise both have the option to ‘opt-out’ as in the section prior.

Touch Section with words
*In this section, Alex and Louise both use the words ‘skin’, ‘muscle’, ‘bone’ to articulate the intention of physical depth behind each moment of touch between them.
*They also have the option to say each other’s names when the intent behind the touch goes deeper or shifts away from the physical.

Touch Section without words
*This sections contains the same movement vocabulary but the intent is thought and not spoken.

Internal/External Section: Louise watching
*Alex uses the words ‘internal’, ‘external’, ‘image’ in an attempt to articulate where her focus is in the moment. ‘Internal’ relates to internal felt sensations in the body, ‘external’ relates to movement that comes in direct response to an external stimuli such as a sound or visual cue and ‘image’ relates to an imagined stimulus which is then manifest in the physical body. Alex also has the option to say ‘I don’t know / I’m not sure’.
*Louise watches from the audience’s perspective, sitting with the audience. Whilst Alex moves Louise names (using the shared vocabulary: ‘internal’, ‘external’, ‘image’) where she perceives Alex’s focus to be.
*Both also have the option to ‘opt-out’ and shake when they feel the focus or connection has waned.

Section which starts with breathing then into both dancing internal/external
*Both have the option to state level of their perceived personas on scale of 1-10.
*Both can ‘opt-out’ if they feel disengaged.
*Both have the option to watch each other from the perspective of the audience, sitting with the audience, and comment upon ‘internal’, ‘external’, ‘image’ or to offer descriptions of what/how they perceive the image to be manifest in the other’s body.

Alex dances to the sound of Louise
*Alex has the option to work with the focus of her eyes in the variety of ways used in the manipulation section whilst she dances to the sound that Louise makes whilst dancing.
*Alex also has the option to react to other external stimuli to provoke her movement.

The end of Grappling constitutes a culmination of all seven sections being performed in quick succession (approximately 30seconds for each section) while the performers attempt to hold all of the different focal points and intentions.


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