The core part of my process emerged out of specific tasks and structures that I handed over to the performers to research together with me. I didn't necessarily have preconceived ideas for the outcome. However, I was particularly interested in what came out of the process of playing and experimenting. Once specific tasks were explored, I added new layers into the exploration and set contrasting ideas up against each other. Working in this format required a state of heightened awareness in the performers as they worked with many layers; sound, voice, text, movement and how the materials were woven together. At the early stage of the creative process, it was important for me to create a multitude of possibilities in the movement material including the references and associations being worked with.
My aim for the performance was for the choreographic material to play between structure and openness. For me, playfulness produces a lightness in the performers approach to researching. Through play there’s an investment, similarly to the involvement of child's play; with a heightened focus on the “game or task” at hand — with space for experimentation, uncertainty, and less judgement. In my process, I created situation for the dancers to watch each other play and experiment, this often resulted in heightened improvisation conditions as they were performing for each other and not just creating material.
If Only (2021)
The movement material was a result of improvisations that originated from oral instructions. Keywords that were used to develop a movement language include: structure, category, collapse, system, classification, contain, layer, unravel. These were explored as physical tasks based on associations and understandings. The words were used as verbs, taking the body into action and movement. A movement language was established through a practice with a series of tasks. It was important throughout the process to say always say words being explored out loud as it kept the performers focussed on the current task. The tasks involved: exploring what the words meant physically, how the sounding of the word affected the movement and vice versa, working in solo, duets and trios, allowing the words to trigger associations in movement and language. The words were also combined to create complex juxtapositions with contrasting effect, for example entangled category, layering collapse or unravelling containment—which affected the physical movement material. Within this there was a duality and complexity to the movement explorations that were vital to the research.
The oral tasks were set in structures with room for experimentation. The choreographic work consisted of layering tasks and intentions on top of each other. Once a layer of material was digested and applied, the performers were able to deal with new information and references. What was particularly exciting about this approach was that at a certain point, it was too much for the dancers to work with. In a sense there was an overload of information; too many things to consider and the performers would “fail the task”. At that particular point was where something changed the performers presence. This was where the heightened listening and alertness occurred. This way of working created an endless web of possibilities and directions to take the work in.
photo by: takumi morozumi
photo by: takumi morozumi
I wrote five texts in early autumn 2020 exploring different perspectives and formats of writing. The texts found their form through accumulative writing tasks, testing versions with the performers and editing in rehearsal situations. We had free-writing sessions based on the physical materials, then interpretations of produced texts. This was done individually and collectively: building a deeper understanding of the concepts being worked with. It was important for me that the performers felt comfortable working with their text, that is was close to their way of playing with words and language. Therefore, the text materials were generated through explorations around themes, definitions and understandings of the listed keywords. We explored different approaches to perform the text material; dry, questioning, statement, conversation, searching, tasting words, sounding of words, rhythm of words.
The text materials were fragmented in form and written in a manner that the audience had the potential to create their own understanding based on how they perceived the work. The texts could be interlinked, connecting layers of references, associations that reveal and unravel the context of power dynamics and hierarchy being explored.
For me, weaving refers to the interlacing of materials together, uniting in a coherent whole. Each of the modules are considered as independent ideas, with their own unified intentions. Structured as a collection of modules woven together, I wanted to create a work where an audience saw the process unfold: the unfinished business continually evolving and new discoveries being made within the pliable form. It was about making the the process visible and allowing viewers to make connections in the work as it materialised. The performers dived into unknown situations with little time for judgmental scrutiny, to express the unfinished, the unresolved and the undigested.
I imagined the work as a three-dimensional sphere that looks at how language builds, moves and is transformed. Meaning was being constructed and deconstructed through fragmentations of movement motifs and words in motion, woven together. All of the materials; sound, movement, text were equally valued in the work, informing each other.
What gets chosen
Many questions arose in the process of what movement intentions to move forwards with, what triggered my interest as a choreographer and how the choices were made. Moments that I often found interesting from the process didn’t always make it into the final cut, even though they’d been of importance and are images that I think might work better than the end choice. There have been many potential directions to take when working with a pliable form. Often the form wasn't important to me as long as the execution was clear in the explorations. In other words, what mattered to me was experiencing the exploration of the tasks within each module and discovering something unforeseeable, which arose when the performers were focussed on building together — giving space, time to each other and the task at hand. The energy, potentiality and edge that occurred when the form wasn’t set was alluring to me. Similarly to Deborah Hay, the goal of my work was not for the “performers to “arrive” at an answer, but rather to notice the possibilities and potential for movement outside of ones habitual movement comfort zone” (Goldman, 2007, p 164). I realised that the potentiality of the work lay in the moments of listening and noticing. Therefore, the materials were framed through language and oral instructions, opening up possibilities of multi-linearity in the materials.