Sunday, 5 August 2012
I arrive in Eastleigh with a fuzzy head after a party in Brighton. Aurora flies in from Poland with a slipped Disc, leaving her kids behind for 5 weeks. Alex flies in from Costa Rica with Andrea and little Liuba, jetlagged and with bad knees. Janusz arrives after a 3am start from Posnan with a beer in one hand, a fag and a packet of crisps in the other. Nik arrives looking exactly like he did 2 years ago on our US tour. Dom arrives clutching a coffee on one hand and a revolting looking high energy drink in the other. Nigel and Elaine – our new intern – have brought a van load of stuff down from my warehouse in Sheffield and slept over night in Eastleigh to help us out today .
We lay two dance floors, build a wall, paint it white, upload graphic software, stabilise a piano, construct a sound system, project images, set up video cameras, hang costumes, stack boxes, hide flight cases, open a bottle of wine, collapse after 12 hours of sorting and fiddling and fixing and moving stuff around. I clean the floor last thing at night when everyone has gone to bed. It's a ritual that I have repeated for 20 years that marks our arrival in an empty space that we will fill and erase and refill and repaint and re-order and wash down again and again, until something sticks.
Sunday, 11 March 2012
MOTHERLAND is VDT's major project for 2012/13. It is a middle scale production offered in conjunction with innovative programme of events, discussions, practical workshops and classes, civic and cultural debates curated by VDT around issues raised in the work. VDT will work in advance with host venue managers and education / outreach gatekeepers to programme a series of events that will engage diverse audiences and encourage participation by those who may not usually attend ‘ contemporary dance’ at their local venue. From 5-9 March as part of Charlotte's curated programme JUNCTURE at Yorkshire Dance - http://www.juncturedance.com - the cast of Motherland worked with Charlotte and Dramaturg Ruth Ben Tovim all week to look at how we might devise curated events on tour that performers can have ownership and be responsible for. Questions we asked were -
How to devise participation work?
How to research engagement?
How to invite performers to facilitate curated events on tour?
What thoughts and approaches and ideas would we like to share?
How to move away from what we already know to find new languages to articulate our practice?
How does collaboration across disciplines shift our own practice?
Can we build a list of core principles for this work?
How to invite people in as creative equals - not us as 'masters' or 'teachers'?
What is our enquiry - for the production? For the curated events on tour?
Friday, 12 August 2011
Led warm up - feed useful and efficient information.
Passive and active person bodywork, slowly moving into the space shifting from down on the floor to middle and standing levels, using tactility, pushing and release into the floor, connection of tailbone with top of the head.
Exercise from a workshop I did a while back in Sweden - about using the voice, improvising movement while saying a word and continuing with “makes me think of” another word that is an association or a rhyme. I accepted a few interpretations of my directions in order to not stop the flow but also wondered if sticking to the simpler rules would have been more of a challenge and more effective in allowing the mind to surprise us.
Allow the mistakes from myself
I listened to rainstorm, real rain in my view…
Useful chat to help me in the task of a short solo work
Choices made in my life, how much do I want to say, where do I carry this in my body?
4 Miniatures in me
new people in today
received wonderful body work
journey from upstage to downstage with and without text, smooth, fluid and staccato
challenge to maintain and make choices quickly as I am exploring
we did a sharing that felt like a showing
props are alien to me
structure, conventions….freedom within limitations
Word associations: in twos - botta e risposta, any word
Same thing with words fertility and barren
Then we expressed the associations we remembered.
“It could be “ opened more possibiliites
Really interesting two days.
Work with Wendy has felt productive and clear. Her observations have opened other paths of practice as well as interpretations. Research, testing things, adding and subtracting as a technique and used also as content.
The struggle lending itself to getting spectators engaged…interesting point for me, helpful to allowing things to be explored without having always to achieve something.
Un – employing a performer – also an interesting and useful concept raised.
Fertility in a broader sense – we explored the word fecundity to provide more associations to growth and production.
Folk dance of an imaginary land, we all created our own folk dance and some people described it in words, then we formed groups (male and female separately). We embodied and inhabited the dance and words of others.
Basket of fruits, joy, hip, mountain, dozen
Happy happy happy, digging a hole, tapping the floor
Basque Lullaby sung as a group
Pandora’s box - Myth/tradition, social phenomenon
staging and improvising
I worked with Joanna who joined the research this week, Kip (who came back after one week break, and Scott. We stood around the box for quite some time expressing random thoughts about what to do or just memories of the story, I remembered that in another version I had read Pandora had been given curiosity as well as beauty, persuasion, and voice. Johanna had a very clear memory of monsters, dinosaurs, dreamt I think after coming to know the story as a child, Scott was thinking of the Garden of Eden and Waiting for Godot, Kip mentioned the box being a protagonist
A pair of high heel shoes, a torch and the box.Nobody in our group wanted to enact a director, we imagined a director to be in the box, the box was our hope of something to come. We walked in Butoh style towards the box that was lying centre stage, during which time Kip’s voice from outside the space pronounced the words of a game known to me as “1,2,3 stella” in which one freezes from time to time. The voice (Kip) also commented on our capacity and our commitment, which provided a shift of tone. We arrived at the box, lightning from Scott’s small torch and Johanna’s modelling clay gestures + high heels shoes in space, all alluded to the creation of an imaginary Pandora. We then re-enacted a memory of the conversation which turned into a brief song about not to open the box.
One with two directors (Liz and Rob) giving directions and suggesting lines or posing questions to two performers (Leah and Greig) and a costume and prop and sound maker (Aurora). Another was directed and performed by Fernanda and Janusz who staged a wedding with a piece of cloth that was the woman’s veil, which became a bed sheet/curtain under/behind which Pandora’ s box was made/appeared. The two then have a discussion in Polish and Portuguese about how the box could be opened but shouldn’t. Fernanda is left alone as Januzc proudly walks off having had the upper hand about the box. Fernanda’s tempation to open is visible from her expression and body language, she opens it and all evil comes out, arguments, and rage between the two explodes until a little angel flies out of the box and hope for a better following is restored.
I enjoyed watching this.
Fernanda, Greig, and Scott spoke of their idea of Pandora’s box, Liz undercut this by intervening at different times, interesting juxtaposition - in a surreal way a conversation emerged…hard to sustain the telling without responding to other tellers…this shifted to talking about hope. Fernanda’s positive comments like “hope is the sparkle in the eye” were contradicted by Liz who became the destroyer of that idea, so Fernanda continued on the line of “hope is in all of us, hope is that thing which makes you breathe, hope is colours, hope is positive”, Liz hammered hope “doesn’t exist, it’s an illusion, as you get older you’ll understand, what have you been on? Which planet are you from?”
Holding on to their conviction and yet being engaged in a conversation created an expectation of a change of opinion in the other.
Leah and Joanna…Leah on her own, very special moment when she stood to show how hope could be described in movement – she walked from one side to the other of the space and simply looked out…..
Still a challenge to stay with one response
Barrier of making mistakes less thick
Worked with a few props
A good long day. Useful to hear thoughts about practice of experienced artists, as well as seeing their practice in action. Indeed everyone’s attempts are engaging and it’s actually overwhelming sometimes the creativity that comes out…from simple things a world of imagination springs out.
Today I decided I would try to use props which have been objects best to avoid until now…. and to embody an idea…something about Liz Aggis’ statement of her body being a stage that resonated in me, …. while I was preparing for the idea with the box I imagined that I would use props hidden in the box and nonchalantly throw them out into the open space….but then the idea of transforming myself became more appealing, I had also chosen to read a fairy tale (Parsley Girl by Calvino) and just the fact of reading became a prominent action, perhaps I should have continued in simply reading it, but I did feel I had failed in my objective…although it has also been one of my goals to allow myself to fail “there’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all”.
Parsley girl is a fairy tale about a resourceful woman and that’s the idea I wanted to present or that to stand out: being resourceful. The objective was to try and do that by enacting parts of the story with props, there was also a sexual undertone in the story that I was hoping to embody but the reading impeded movement, perhaps that is something to use and enhance that struggle (going back to what was mentioned earlier in this research….there being hope in the struggle).
Fairy tale, we made one up….great fun preparing…in fact the excitement of making one from scratch left us with a certain buzz that prevented us from taking more time in the presentation of the idea..it felt rushed and unresolved. However the unexpected trickling of the fake blood added content to our geisha like walks. The reading at the end was a holding on to the unresolved ending.
Bennita’s story presented with Ruth moved me, tears were coming down and I could sense other people in the room were experiencing a similar reaction…snuffling could be heard. Something about the delivery. Two women faced the audience and sat next to each other. Ruth began with an image of an infant covered in olive oil and cotton wool between skin and clothes… A juxtaposition of facts and emotion. It still provokes something when I simply think of it…
life lived and told.
Showing or improv was very enjoyable this time for me. It felt more fluid, and it was less of an ‘extraction’ to be on the sides than coming out of the space… It also felt more of a group experience rather than different individuals doing their thing only, it was certainly more of an organism going through shifts of form. Also the presence of the children I think aided us as a group to expand our listening … Challenge to feel confident in choice of duration of the act and also progression, repetition helps for this... Images that have stayed with me are the children’s work with the men, a diagonal created by Fernanda and Johanna, Janusz’s being washed by Leah, my interaction with Leah felt satisfaying…and Liz …all I saw her do had a visual and contextual impact for me.
Working with song with Toby Park
We each worked on writing text for a song..
Work of this kind is very new to me and I was intrigued and challenged at the same time
Absorbing as much as I can of the new
Different forms of songs ….a hymn , a “come along” song about growth that actually never takes off and degenerates, the song about the perfect man, and about hope.
Come along little sprout
Let me watch you pop out ------ whispered sat on a box….with a making of a flower coming out of a root…..idea transferred to simple standing with 2 other women whispering to their bellies …..
Ta taaaaa tarataratara’ – we must seek solution for our kind!!!
Music contest improvisation – group from Russia, France and Japan…
Interesting and different feelings of safety and claustrophobia
First improv ‘grand finale’ turned into a movement (post modern style)…
The seriousness of that shifted the tone, we opted for a safe domain perhaps as a finale and yet did not all feel prepared to take it to at least a humorous level as previous part had been.
For my part I certainly went into automatism,I could have enhanced that intention more.
Then we improvised narratives as groups through song in a rock style, opera, and musical theatre and greek tragedy
This proved more challenging than I thought…partly because I relied on text and remembering the narrative of Pandora…my narrative thinking in performance is slow, I am more comfortable when I don’t have to make a decision about what lines or what words…but it’s not even as simple as this, making quick decisions without knowing if it’s the action that drives it or the thought behind the action.
Final exercise on producing a song from a previous exploration done in the research….despite my initial frustration with a technical problem….I presented something mediated from an interview on feminism in Polish, it sounded fake ‘orientalist’.
General final thoughts
It has been enriching to be part of a research here with VDT and collaborators. The process has helped me to cross boundaries. It has raised and clarified aspects of a practice that I want to engage more with. I have met wonderful people and professionals as well as talented children….has been great to be in a team environment again
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
I have had a week, to step back from the world of 'Motherland', and like a dream seemingly pertinent images and thoughts have begun to slip from my head, to leave the gristle and the gold that really made an impression on me.
If my eyes were a polaroid, many images have been burnt onto my retinas and left to develop in the pink blob behind it, Here they be:
Black dresses.Open legs
Small blood stained footsteps
Anxious trusting feet. Before the jump into open arms.
Writhing black shape in the corner of your eye
Clatter of heels
Following hands map out landscapes. Listening to words that slap you in the face.
Women have the choice not to get pregnant.
Shadow of a person
Hope rhymes with Pope. Indeed it does Liz.
A child in heels
I am evacuated
I am a child
I slept on the Heath.
The improvisations that happened throughout the week, created some hauntingly poignant images that materialised like an accidental jigsaw falling into place. But what was most interesting is how these came about and at what speed. A concentric concertina was bellowing saturated busy images, then focussing into a small moment/tableau, that either juxtaposed with other happenings in the space or concluded it by framing a simple action or picture. A sensitivity in the group allowed space for these moments to sit. A breath was allowed.
I feel these patterns in the improvisations may be coming from where the piece sits and how it is possibly viewed by the audience. At present for me it lies in an interesting purgatory of Installation/durational and live/performance art. Ritualistic actions and slowly developing images, made me question how to enter and leave the space. At times it seemed intrusive and voyeristic to enter someone elses frame. An intergrity was being built and it often felt the image would be jarred or diluted by another prescense in the space. And then at times the space felt like a bubble, and all reference of audience was forgotten, you were on your own personal exploration, and when this reached a close. A feeling of immersed submission rose in me. Just to sit/lie small and watch the others lose and find themselves in the Labyrinth of the subject.
Friday, 5 August 2011
It was an abundance of humans.
Small bodys being hoisted aloft, reminded me of Oklahoma or seven grooms for seven sisters, or some such. Funny fecund folk dances. Groups of boys and groups of girls, like in the ballet or the west end.
Also, a kind of 'theatre' context this week, and a telling of peoples personal stories. Creating the context for holding a listening frame, for someone to speak in. Or testify.
Dialogue. Listening to people speak. Speaking. Reiterating what one heard. hearing ones words reiterated.
Also, the returning of previous images reimagined and in new context. High heeled shoes, and period dresses and jackets, chaulk boards, overhead projectors,bloody cotton wool, left over bits from puppet shows, small stringed instruments, prams, boxs, objects in boxes, microphones, microphone leads. ash (which has been found to be a potential health hazard, and removed). The replacement substance for the ash looks like kitty litter. Also, the snow has not been appearing so much any more in the space. I wonder if the snow and ash, have just been to ungainly, and make to much of a mess.
So, it all seemed pretty much a fecund abundancy, of fertile feminist findings. funnyfecundforms.
Maybe like Summer Arts/Theatre Camp, with diverse populations, for a better understanding of arts in community, as it was a microcosm of a kind of diverse(ish) community, in the context, of arts work.
nobody seemed to have gotten hurt.
theatrical work was accomplished.
some more people went away, some other people came, and some people stayed.