Day #3 Wednesday 23rd January

Movement & Sound Workshop with Rachel NíChúinn
I had the pleasure of co-facilitating this workshop with Rachel this morning. I’m interested in her vision of sound as movement and thought her approach to listening and finding sounds would be a welcome addition to the summer school programme. After a brief stretchy, vocal warm-up we looked at printed sound scores created by composers such as John Cage. Rachel and I invited people to listen to different recordings she had made, and we discussed the dynamics of sounds and the correlation of sound and space.P1100834

The recordings Rachel had selected were in contrast to each other stimulating varied responses from the group. We set them a listening task (and everyone chose to go outside!) and write their own sound scores avoiding descriptive heavy writing, instead using dynamic words or shapes. They returned and exchanged scores moving on to interpreting the scores into movement phrases. The group worked for some time, alone, and then under the guidance of their partners. It was exciting to see them performed in groups at the end. Thanks everyone for coming to our workshop today!

Anna Carlisle Living Architecture Workshop
Anna set the tone of the workshop today talking about embodiment. She used an example of how we can learn the basics of a dance genre, say Tango for instance and learn more and more steps. But it can take years to embody the style. What it means to live the dance. To feel it and to know it. As a starting point for her workshop, Anna introduced the Dimensional Cross, carefully pointing out it’s relation to Geometry and how Laban related it to the make up of our physical structure.

Rising through the line of my centre.  Dimensional Scale
Sinking downwards towards the ground
Prepare to close across the body
Feel the sensation of opening out
Return to centre to retreat
Now I advance forward and come ‘home’.

Effectively, the Dimensional Cross allows the body to connect levels, connect with the space and with each other, and to ground oneself. Anna positioned the dancers closer to one another, facing different directions encouraging them to feel a sense of togetherness and harmony with each other. The groups progressed to making choreographic choices, manipulating the sequence, using unison and canon.

What struck me from my perspective as an observer is the immediate benefits of the Dimensional Scale as a means for refining ones own movement (the scale requires strength and precision), taps into a wealth of contrasting dynamics, develops sensitivity to shape, the space and with others. It is very effective in doing this and students may ask WHY? WHY do we have to do this? My answer would be that it’s imperative for the tutor/facilitator to encourage all of these elements in an effort to EMBODY the Dimensional Cross, and not simply move through it unknowingly. To understand that the scale, or adaptations of it are invaluable to what Anna talked about, embodiment; and that spatial awareness and dynamic qualities are not diminished to an after thought that may or may not happen. I witnessed the group in front of me really embodying the scale, and their variations of it. This was a joy to watch.

Anna provided a print of a Matisse double portrait as the stimulus for the next part of her session. After lunch, her and the group reconvened and made preparations to take the work outside. As is always the case with selecting suitable sites to work in, there are obstacles. One can take the guerilla approach and attempt to make work until you get noticed by the authorities or you can seek permission. We suggested the former rather than the latter, and sure enough working in Anna’s first choice, the the large main square on campus attracted the attention of the grounds keeper and we had to re locate to the orchard. Groups quickly got to work in the new space, with the extra shaded areas providing relief from the very hot sun.

By the end of the workshop, Anna invited people to watch the work that had been created. It was a beautifully crafted piece performed with sensitivity between the dancers and with their environment.

Colm Gallagher Dances from Small Things Workshop
I joined Colm’s workshop half an hour before the lunch break. The dancers were surrounding an assorted mix of coloured ribbons and elastic on the floor and he invited everyone to arrange the shapes in turn, then move around it and come up with a title! Suggestions were firing from the floor from the very literal Ribbon Rush to some more conceptual interpretations…..Messy Bedroom // New Map of the World // Murder // On the Edge// A Song to the Wind //Chaos // Florist Shop // Playground //…..

Colm led everyone in a group improvisation accompanied by really cool music and paused, throwing the above titles at them then asking them to create those in smaller groups, quickly and without too much thinking. The variety of choices and interpretations are limitless and Colm provided opportunities for everyone to mix and meet one another and exchange ideas. There was an enthusiastic round of applause at the end of the session before the lunch break.

After lunch, Colm got the group up on their feet moving hands together to some lively music. They weaved in and out of each other using the whole space creating bridges and trains passing through and around each other. Colm’s work celebrates intuition and he sets up movement activities that encourage very quick, immediate responses. It requires the participant to BE in their bodies and not get caught up too much whether they are right or wrong. There is no room or acceptance for error. Every choice is celebrated. Large sheets of paper and coloured markers followed with participants being asked to make their mark on the page. Encouraging movement of the colour over a known or recognised symbol. Art work was reviewed and titles given from one group to the other. These were to provide the stimuli for longer investigations of movement scenes that were shared at the end of the session. Colm ended the session with a choice quote from writer Michael Harding about the preference for simplicity. Sometimes this is key, as evident today observing this work in practice.

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 The Kildare Dance & Movement Summer School runs until Friday 25th July at NUI Maynooth