Lab 5 on 9th June 2016.
Once a dancer mentioned in a previous lab, ‘ when I play with an object in space it’s easy, I can make it do what I want, but when I want to play my body in space my ego gets in the way.’
Perhaps there is a way to learn from the act of ‘playing’ something, like one might play a musical instrument, like we used to ‘play’ things as a kid, as to how we could open up more dynamics and choices in expressing through the body. One takes an instrument and feeds their expression through that, the musician disappears and can be the music itself, the dancer is also an instrument in her/himself, the body as the mind as the body.
I see this malleability as a sort of texture, as breath moves through body tissues, as we move physical props, or a pianist plays his/her piano, as their imagination melts through the keys, through space. I asked dancers to note down their experiences through the lens of physical texture and material, through metaphors of natural phenomena or actions that can be applied to physical mass. Perhaps these could be ways to get a glimpse of how texture works through body experience and to access it again.
We worked through a Body Mind Centering inspired warm up, vocalising through organ or body mass, using a hissing sound to focus compression and expansion to the area, giving the body mass more agency to sense, feel, think- to move.
We played with the texture of large cushions, creating a stream of new functions for them other than their usual one…re-imagining each new idea in its normalcy, then translating this also for the way we explore our body mass. Humour too… one dancer wrote in her notes below:
Below more notes from the explorations:
Da Gu Da
Beats. A heart playing. Continuing beat and silence into an urgent pattern. The breath as agent of expansion and compression. Reaching. Then the breath deriving from an inner body part. I compress and allow the body part to move me.
Da Gu Da was a loose set of rhythm rules I gave to the dancers to explore. I was inspired by a Konnakol lesson I just had (South Indian vocal percussion using spoken syllables). Although the rhythms were not directly lifted from what I learnt of Konnakol I was inspired by the structure the teacher created for me, like in jazz score where one might have a set of known structures and then create known gaps around it to be left for improvisation. Here we looked at a basic rhythm I made up in 4/4 with a subdivided on and off beat using Da and Gu. The pink is the part we spoke or repeated.
Da (Gu) (Da) (Gu) (Da) (Gu) Da Gu Da
We explored improvising in between the pink syllables in voice and in movement.
One of the dancers mentioned she had had past negative experiences of learning piano! She was told she was bad at it, and subsequently she gets stressed now when she has to be ‘on time’ inside of a musical frame of mind… We added this into the mix. We acknowledged these feelings of being late or too early or not getting it right, as part of the material, part of the texture, which brought out the face and the eyes.
Later we explored also juxtaposing this rhythm with another rhythm that was more neutral or pedestrian or functional. Like drinking water, walking, reading a book. It gave some nice contrasts and made me more fascinated to include the complex timings of our everyday actions, as music, as dance, as material for the stage.