Monday, 29 March 2010

Walking on stones

For two years now I've been noticing a habit that has developed over years of training in dance. And I've been doing Klein technique as a way to 'reprogramme' my alignment. The trouble is, most of my walking has been in cities, even to the Klein technique class. How can a body function most efficiently in an environment that is so undermining to the structural complexity of the human body?

My study is primarily based upon the feet although as anyone interested in movement study will know is that no one part of the body can be considered in isolation.

A habit builds from repetitive action, habits in themselves aren't bad but movement can degenerate, muscular memory 'forgetting' the original discovery of the most efficient way. However how can we forget in a environment that is constantly changing? We need a constant for something to become a given and therefore accommodate habitual activity. Why does human nature seek this constant when it is change itself that facilitates life?

And what is Klein technique if not a habit, an exceptional habit? Like meditation this practice brings awareness of self and self in a structural, functional way. Self in relation to environment. This 'habit' of noticing therefore leads us to see the physical disadvantage we are immersed in through urban living. Klein technique exists because we are constantly battling against the health problems caused by city living. The interactivity of the Wii is a pointer of the commercial ventures embarked upon to ensure a new form of materiality.

Recently I went to a fancy shoe shop out of interest to see what the foot specialist would recommend for me. In their shop they had a machine that sensed the distribution of weight through the feet which is specfically what I was interested in. After being measured and observed I was recommended a pair of inserts for my shoes, specially to give support for the contours of my feet and my weight distribution. They were approximately £120. I could not understand the purpose of these insteps if it meant that after I had removed my shoes, my body would have no continued support of it's own alignment and walking patterns. It seemed like argonomics was crossing into body censorship of the thereaputic kind.

After months practicing Klein technique my body is further toward recognising the most efficient way to walk but still failing to attain it in everyday life. How relieved was I today to discover the pleasure and body's mind while walking over stones. There are 26 bones in each foot and each had a purpose. When so much of every day while I am walking in the city I feel as if I may as well have wheels or blocks for feet. If humans change an environment it is only a matter of time before solutions are found (and marketed) to the problems that are created. For every solution a problem is created. My personal problem is a growing adversion to urban/city spaces and how I physically interact with them.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Extracts from: 'A Duet Between Filmic and Choreographic Processes in Relation to Space, Body and Time'.

The body simultaneously exists in and of space. The rhythm of the breath marking incriments from birth to death. Through the filmic process, real time and space are altered. Rhythm and form created by figure and environment in flux: the three-dimensional world a site for exploration in body, space and time. Through the filmic process, these elements are perceived and further re-constructed. From the original impulse to move, until the first edited image appears on the retina, whether partcipant or receiver, a common entity is engaged – the body.

When viewing dance in the theatre, audience perspective permits sight of the entire body moving in real time. Through the camera the environment is mobilized, the body subject to framing, movement recorded in frames per second. Space, body and time are subject to change through the interplay between dancer(s) and camera person(s). The resulting footage is the realization of a relationship in movement between dancer(s) and camera person(s). How to then process and re-construct this relationship is a matter of editing. In general I found the protagonist/antagonist relationship between camera and dancer a major factor for consideration when shaping the emotional content of the work. Whilst shooting/performing this dynamic was, to an extent, instinctual - supported by scores. In the edit suite however, the composition of the footage in relation to dynamics became much more cerebral. I decided to think of the footage as a palate from which to consciously construct meaning. I felt using improvised movement as a starting point for both camera person and dancer allowed me to tap into an essence influenced by the personalities and style of performer(s) and the chosen space.

By developing the themes ignited by chance moments for screen I have, in more ways than one, flattened them. By allowing a momentary occurrence to become repeatable, a representation of response to a certain time and place, all elements of improvisation and what it is to improvise have been removed. The perceivable instantaneous reaction to stimulus, so enjoyable to see in live performance, the necessity to constantly open perception in order to solve compositional problems on the spot has been sacrificed in pursuit of a different form of expression through video. 'Man's primitive need to have the last word in the argument with death by means of a form that endures' (Bazin, 1945). I was drawn to film dance to greedily preserve a momentary art form, I wanted to share my joy of movement with others, moulding it into a commodifiable visual representation of space, body and time in flux. However, the more I research and make work, the more I realise it is not my interest to capture and embalm the dancing figure but rather engage in the qualititive aspects of film to create an audial/visual experience with the moving body as the mode of expression. An experience unhampered by notions of narrative, symbolism or concept but existing as rhythm, composition, colour and form, connecting with the viewer through the senses.

To approach dance film from one side, without knowledge of the other medium, is to stilt the potential for the qualities of the other to engage and express more deeply the concept of the work. Work which engages the viewer in an audio/visual experience through equally employing the qualities of mediums that support a shared intention. To return to Paxton's earlier quote, 'space becomes spherical, time is the present, mass is a changeable orientation to gravity,'I propose the opposite is true for the screen: space becomes two dimensional, time is maleable, and gravity has no bearing on mass as it is now representational. By acknowledging these differences, I endeavour to create work that plays insightfully in the gap between mediums, weaving them together through a shared language of body, space and time.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Reaction to Improve Score

Labor Gras Research - 14/3/09

I feel frustrated because I do not understand the task. The space calls me. Does it though? To me it looks quite happy on it's own. With the light shifting in. 'Do something' I say to myself.

The 'public' isn't fictional it's who is watching now in space. I am looking like a tiger, waiting for the next clue but in fact I get self conscious and don't know where to go next.

The task was:

Empty space,
One person enters. How do they enter?

I can't see the forest for the trees.

One step ahead.

Next person enters after a time.

Be clear. If the first person is clear then I know what I am working with. If I am clear then I feel what I am doing

Analyse one another. Respond. We are hard.

Speak before each rehearsal

What have you been thinking about?

This is difficult.

After five minutes find an ending.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Beginning and Ending

Labor Gras research, week beginning 2/3/10

(All these scores are performed with at least one person witnessing so observations can be made).

With Arthur, Emma and Neta in the studio we begin by improvising for one another in pairs: I propose something, you answer, I answer back and so on. How to trust the body to go deeply into the nuances of a phrase of moment and not impose on oneself. How do you enter the 'performance space'. How do you begin and how do you end? When do you begin and when do you end? In the space? On the periphery? What quality do you bring into the space or introduce once you are right in there?

Building a story in the space: The first person makes a sentence, a quality in the space. The next person enters into that quality and then brings it to another place and so on. Moving it forward, transforming as it is passed from one person to the next.

Components of sitting and standing. Different levels, working with stillness in proximity then
continuously moving, two at a time. How to remain in the fast movement with as much sensitivity as in working more slowly. How does the movement flow through the body in a way that you are aware of? How not to throw movement away.

Exercise by Mia Lawerence:

One person moving, eyes closed. The other watches the surfaces exposed and enters into light contact as an opportunity presents itself. Always the upper surface rather than the lower.The other continues moving and the moment passes. The watcher moves away and looks again at the forms that are appearing: whole sections or tiny parts of the body can be placed onto the other. But not heavily. How does the experience effect the watcher? What sensations are left in the body? How does this focus change how you move and enter into the next place of contact?

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Hanging Sculpture

Deutsche Akademie Rom - Martin Gropius Bau. Sasha Waltz installation 24/2/10

Men hanging from the ceiling almost naked: their bodies twisting and writhing. Slowly. Breathing. One is holding an accordian. It let's out sound sometimes. I can see the men hanging from across the room. The old building groans under the picture of this living sculpture; 'you have sucked the statues from us and suspended them in the now'.

Labor Gras 20/2/10 - 25/2/10 Arthur and Renate teaching:

Arthur talks about analysing before and after dancing but not during. Otherwise it is impossible to be in the moment.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Weight Spiralling Down

Labor Gras Class Thu 30th to Friday 5th February

Weight falling through the pelvis, weight spiralling down through the pelvis into the floor. I surprise myself or at least I try to. Listening all the time. Where does the body want to go?

My main challenge is to let go without all of some tone that will direct me, or at least serve some impulse to see movement through. Maybe the tone only comes from the impulse. Where does the impulse come from? Especially when we are working from a sequence of movement rather than an improvisation.

In improvisation how can we see the clarity of intention? Maybe in executing a phrase or pre-known sequence of movement the sequence is dictated by external factors. Or by remembering internal factors? Re-created factors. It's as if the brain is creating problems for it to solve for itself along the way.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Labor Gras 25th - 29th January 2010

I came back to Berlin just over a week ago now to work at Labor Gras, a studio in Kreuzberg on Paul Linke-Ufer Str. See the website here: This week class was taught by Renate Graziadei and Arthur Stäldi.

The main focus of the week for me to do without doing. How can I move through the air and space around me with the clearest use of effort in the body to form a sequence of movement? Questions that arose by Renate centered upon decision making vs. following. Allowing body intelligence to find a pathway through the space through riding the weight through space. One observation made was that the further we are from being balanced, the more likely gravity takes over and falling engages continuous sequential movement. Renate said even when someone dies there is still a continuation of the movement through decay. The mind goes with the body as part of the flesh and blood, the matter.

This reminded me of a time I had working with this idea of following, letting the movement unravel with Merav Israel, Monika Smekot and Monica Deioanni in Craigmillar Arts Centre, Edinburgh. With Merav we were searching for the impulse to move, where is the impulse to move and once you have begun how are you carried through? How does this movement find a resolution and how does it begin again? Where is the beginning?