Finding an ending is always hard.

•April 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I feel that need for for a finish of some sort.

An end. A How to end

How to end connections

How to end work

How to end judgements

How to end a journeys

How to end questions

How to end predictions

How to end failings

How to end experiences

How to end my learning

How to end a presentation.

How to end to start again.

How to end and tell you what I ended

 dsc08272

An earlier Image: I saw a picture of a snowman one day after placement.  The Falling solo snowman. I looked at it and scrutinized its imperfections from many angles. Walking through Glasgow Green from the white house studios, after seeing Natasha’s work in rehearsal for the 9th time. I walked and thought: That’s me done for the day.  Go home now. I did that workshop. I created that movement. I put that piece together. I still felt lost because I don’t just want to walk someone else’s shoes. I wasn’t on placement to become this other practitioner. I was here to find out what I could take forward from my experiences. I constantly felt the need to do it perfect and do it Natasha’s way, falling into the techniques of how she successfully runs a workshop or directs a group.

 

It was never my aim to become someone else’s practice.

 

I asked myself the important question why do I like movement? Why is it important to have a physical practice? I feel the need to move. Remembering that anything can inspire. Letting my creativity speak out in ways planned and those that weren’t. Realising that a physical practice comes from attempting one and not saying may be I’m not that thing because I didn’t learn it that way.

The Image today, the last day: Its Wednesday and it feels strange. I should be in Maryhill right now getting ready for their latest project. Instead I walk up the stone stairs from St Georges Cross Tube stop. I stop and carry another three bags for a person who needed a little less weight to carry for that day. A helping hand. Being aware of my surroundings and doing what needs done at that moment (just a little something I learnt).

It is always hard to finish with projects. Sometimes you need to close the book on one chapter to start another.

MY RULES – To maintain the responsibilities,  not forgetting past experiences, to keep close connects and make your decisions when it is right for you. That way you give all that you can at each moment a new task arises.


 

What do you see?

•April 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So what is a dancer? Rehearsing and getting right. Getting right. Rehearsing, getting it wrong, Getting annoyed. Getting it right. Forgetting and remembering. When you are a dancer what are you? You are you that dances? or you are the you that person that calls what you do not dance. It seems to me that definitions are only another struggle for us to categorise interests, strengths, every day living and how we express ourselves. Trying to disregard roots and traditions such as classical ballet will only lead to more people being able to say that certain styles are more or less important. Or if you don’t belong to a style then you aren’t of any worth. I think that whatever the art for or performance making we should celebrate the process as a melting pot of personal ideas, backgrounds and beliefs. We shouldn’t witness the body not as someone who is trained or untrained. You and I should see them as a moving portraiture that brings with them history and an individual voice. BY appreciating this I feel that we can move away from categorisation that puts up a barrier between what the work tried to do and what it really is. I hope that these important points that I am starting to realize about a movement practice can be delivered to others in the presentations that I will give about my placement shortly.

Ballet dancer

HANDS PUT TOGETHER

•April 3, 2009 • 1 Comment

Comming across artifacts of the time spent with lots of people who have inluence me this term. Tawona is a poet. He has his own perfromance group called Seeds of Thought. He told me to try new things and dont say I cant ever do anything because we will do it in our own way which is always the best. It was interesting to hear how text can influence or be a stimulus for movement. Tawona is working with Natasha on her latest performance in her research lab this week at Tramway. 

 

Here is a poem we wrote together. I hope one day we can work together again and possibly perform together. 

 

HANDS PUT TOGETHER

silhouettes in stilettos

joining hand in hand with other similar shadows

turning heads, but looking straight ahead

walking without asking

and asking about nothing

upbeat, download

upstroke, reload

listening to the same rhythm of ‘achy breaky heart’

dancing to the memories before they depart

meanwhile my mind unfolds all the letters i never wrote

my regret retraces all the steps i never walked

my longing trails on tired heels

going frail against the fired wheels

my eyes relax

i let it work its magic

through grey and greyer spectrums

i see life map its tactic

i’m on target

clock strikes any time now

the cannon sounds

i’m sticking around

imprinted on the screen

the wheel

the ground

question marks retreat

from advancing defeat

filled with blank spots, freckled eyes

mutual tides continual

number eleven, all the legs

counting down, adding up

subtracting recurring thoughts

my blind spot

the epicentre

of all things loved, wanted, loathed

all strings tugged, twisted, locked

bounded here with you

The last

•April 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Finished the final performance the other day. At least it ill be the final of many other final performances in my life I’m sure. Standing next to the girls who I have come to know not just as dancers but also other parts of their life. Seeing them every Monday and Tuesday and knowing what day of the week I was on. Sitting in the room and many others when I tried to learn and did and at other times thought  I wasn’t learning anything at all. Right now Im thinking to successfully communicate what parts of this process have been the most beneficial or what is important to share at all. One thing is for sure I hope others who take on placement’s with those who they are passionate to work with as there will always be something of value and most of all enthusiasm in the work you will witness and share with that partner.

Just thinking

•March 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Firstly: I am rubbish at blogging. I haven’t written to you in ages.

Secondly: Yes I have been learning

And No: I haven’t been thinking abut nothing.Technically I have found that if you try to think about nothing then your thinking about ‘nothing’ and therefore thinking about something. If this is already confusing for you then forgive me I may be passing on my stress and worries via blog writing, which is unavoidable for me at the moment.

 

Firstly: I would just like to list the things that I think or feel when I move or dance: not thinking, my boyfriend, sun, Ollie laughing, Sitting on a hot stone wall, own a giant helicopter, satisfaction, frustration, eating melting ice-cream, pain, heart beat, exhilaration, breath, feeling of importance etc. These have been just a few things I have noticed myself writing after or during class. You could say these things are important or less important. However I am also sure that your categorisation would be different to my own.

Secondly: What is community dance? Coming to the end of my placement I am returning to the one of the most important questions that I seem to be continually asking myself: What is community dance, who is it for and what part do I have to play in it? I never thought it would be way to answer this question. But the experiences and responsibilities that I have had while working with and along side Natasha have been invaluable. I have had the chance to facilitate as well as participate, which has allowed me to see the benefits and set backs of working in so-called ‘community’ environments. At the moment I am trying to figure our what classify something as being a community project. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary a community is a “the people with common interests”. Other definitions use the word “gathering”. Why is it then that we day those who are not trained or practice dance on an-untrained level/ un-professional (what ever this means also) are community dancers? Surely a group of dancers from the Scottish ballet are also community dancers, since they have come together specifically to achieve the same goals and share the same interests.

And No: I don’t know all the answers to why people are so called MOVED to dance. I can only so far speak from my own involvement and interaction with others. It definitely seems more than just the achievement of skill, precision and perfection but more about the personal satisfaction that comes from expression in a form, which doesn’t occupy our lives on a daily basis, yet manages to speak out on personal tones. Better yet, it Like in film scenes. Where the character is unable to speak the words he/she means and the director relies on the dance sequence that takes the character and audience through an emotional journey, revealing insecurities as well as personal.

 

Going for a swim

•February 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

“Lets all do our swimming motion now”

“Arms stretched, big circles, one leg kick now the other…be sure to touch the top of the ocean, now lets swim as low and tiny as we can”, as she said with a big smiley face. 

 

Over the last two weeks I have been writing and facilitating workshops at Nursery schools, for ages 3 – 5 years. These workshops have been based on the book My Many Colored Days by Dr.Seuss. The aim for these workshops has been to allow the participants to learn beginner dance skills through stimulation of learning about colours and animals. By doing so they have began to develop and build on their vocabulary of movement. BY having a book as a stimulus it has been helpful for us as workshop writers to develop half an hour sessions on a particular set of activity and them fit skills into this that are important for the participants to try. Every week the participants walk are encouraged to complete a warm up session which is familiar to them. By doing so this allows the participants to demonstrate their knowledge of remembrance skills and also practice movements which they can improve on every week, e.g. balancing on one leg. Y doing a warm up in a circle it also allows the facilitators to keep and eye on the whole group and encourage participants. When working with such a young age group it has made me appreciate how the facilitators role to demonstrate and also to use their facial emotions in relation to the task is important. For example the participants responded well to what they were being asked to do when I told them that what I would demonstrate they could try straight after me, while asking them to sit on the floor in front of me. This clear set of instructions allowed the participants to feel relaxed and watched intently because their knew they would have a turn to show me straight after the demonstrations. Another example of successful communication skill is they way I chose to describe the movements they were being asked to do, using more descriptive phrases such as “move like a bowl of jelly”, or “lift your knees to touch the sky” seemed o be more effective and understandable for the participants. 

A response to

•January 25, 2009 • 1 Comment

“We all seemed to be greatly disturbed that our art form has recently changed: extreme physical accomplishment overshadows true artistic quality.” 

(Mind over Body, the development of the dancer and the role of the teacher, Maria Fay, Black Publishers Ltd, 1997, p.180)

I find this to be deeply worrying. Mainly because it talks directly about dance used in community arts. To me this talks about how in today’s society dance productions are still judged on the execution of dance skills rather than quality. Just because a dancer can perform a triple pirouette or a box turn doesn’t make the piece successful! Surely the process of the work and the delivery of it from the performer need to speak out to the audience and/or be of some worth to the performer. 

dance is not valuable to those who are experiencing it for the first time.

  • Is dance only meant to be enjoyed by the elite?
  • And if a performance using dance based skills is executed with un-professionals, is it not high quality?
  •  Most importantly if dance is used, whether as a professional (i.e. a trained dancer) or a non-professional what is the works purpose? Surely this is the most important issue at hand?

It is my belief that the work is successful if the outcomes are met, disregarding the physical standard and level of dance training.

Any other responses to this? 

‘One Up, One Down’

•January 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The start of a new term and a new Project! Natasha has secured funding for Research and Development at Tramway over these last two weeks. Spending time in the new Tramway studio I witnessed three female performers execute new comical material through dance/ movement style. This material will hopefully lead towards a performance in the near future. Natasha is interested in dance theatre being highly performed and characterised. This is highlighted in this new work with each performer having qualities that resemble and fight against each other. The work aims to reflect the life of one person by bringing alive her three personalities. Already the aesthetic of costume is being highly considered. What will bring together this one character? What will separate each personality? What will audiences relate to as the stereotypical and the unfamiliar? Not only do the performers have to dance, improvise and create movement based material but also approach a new style of work that involved poetry, quick witted text and most importantly the delivery of performance through spoken text. This is foreign to these performers because their background is strictly dance based, some have trained at Laban and other prestigious schools. This makes me wonder what a ‘performer’ is required to do and what we are trained to do? Is an actor trained only to be someone else other than themselves or will they fight against this? Will a dancer choose and be capable of just dance or can they act? (what ever this definition of acting may be?) Do they have the right or the training to do this?

Seeing a new work being moulded and tested, existing as a sample of the real finished work makes me realise how early a process starts.  You have to consider the finished product right from the beginning for a chance for it t exist as a piece of work. Production pictures and marketing shots have already been taken to publicise this work to venues across the UK. This is important so that this performance can be put in the diaries of venues for next year, two years from now etc. It is hard to imagine that  you/ Natasha/ me etc., as a performer has the responsibility to keep some sort of ‘feeling’ of what the work will be just from a photograph.

What to say?

•November 24, 2008 • 1 Comment

Dear Blog,

What to say when you don’t know what to say!?

I am writing to you because I have been neglectful. I have spent the last few weeks or so thinking about all the things I wanted to get  done rather than celebrating the things that I have learnt or achieved. It is so easy to get caught up by the personal thoughts of ‘the unattainable’ rather working with your situation.

At the moment I am working intensively with Natasha on the project for ’16 Days of Action’. This is an interesting project because we are all women performing in the piece. It seems that we all have information and material to share about situations that make women feel vulnerable and insecure. By performing and contextualizing this information through movement I find it is easier to disconnect the emotional connection you can have with the material. Instead we are using our bodies to create images or promote feelings of vulnerability or terrifying nature of the subjects such as violence, rape etc.

As a participant and acting as a facilitator through the rehearsal as a participant it is easier to build bonds with the other performers. By doing so it has allowed me to communicate my ideas and experience how to work with non-trained dancer’s compared to other such as training with Natasha’s dancer’s in the touring production of ‘The Blank Album’. Having this opportunity to see Natasha’s workshops implemented after discussing what she wishes to do with the group, it is invaluable because it allows me to see how Natasha executes her ideas and how my suggestions may be taken on board. It is useful to see how one facilitator may change or rearrange the way he/she will communicate with the group or ask for material to be created compared to may be the decisions I would make or example. This reminds me of an exercise where we were asked to repeat a series of movements in a figure of eight. After trying this for several times and noticing how complicated this was proving to be I would have stopped and moved onto something else, most probably taken it out of the production. However Natasha continued to repeat this exercise, finally stopping when it seemed about ok. Each session she would make us repeat the sequence. Now this is a manageable and enjoyable part of the production that reinforces previous material in the show. This has proven to me that trial and error is sometime unavoidable but you have to keep pushing through if you have a vision that you are positive will make sense for the performance. Only by trying you will be able to see results! 

Over the last two weeks we have used material that have been created through warm ups and routine. His has then been placed into more narrative structures that allow individuals to share their own devised material with the audience through spatial decisions. By see that material can be created right from the start of a rehearsal process it has made me appreciate how ANYTHING can become something in a performance. Also when working with individuals who are less experienced with how material can be created or performed for an audience it is important to make them feel secure and comfortable with the work. Natasha has achieved this by teaching smaller versions of a larger routine right from the start. I have also notice that Natasha will structure her workshops in a safe and familiar environment, highlighting a rehearsal routine so that the participants walk into the room, knowing what will be expected of them. For example participants are asked to stand in a circle as quickly as , while music is playing but most importantly Natasha will already be encouraging the group to move with her and copy her movements.  

While working on this project it has become more and more aware about how working with Natasha is a social network for this group. This is a group of people who are coming together because they have something they would like to share and dance/ e is an appropriate way for them to do this. It is a time where crèche is open, women are carefree, we are allowed to express our feelings, we are allowed to focus on something new, we can create our own material or work with others, we can share tea and fruit, chat, laugh and most importantly do something together – DANCE. When else have we had the excuse today to just get up dance? In the warm room in Maryhill us 16 girls have a need and right to dance. On the 10th December we will share with others the material we have e to use that will challenge women’s rights.

I’m sorry again blog! Mostly I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you what has been going on in my head sooner. I often resort to dancing in my room alone in front of my laptop rather than my fingers on the keys.

 What to say when you don’t know what to say – There turns out to be quiet a lot!

Love Steph xxx

What, When, Why???

•October 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I understand that this is only the start of my journey on this placement but I want to ask…


What is it to take a journey?

When should self-direction take place?

Why am I interested in the trained performer?

 

These are such complicated questions. Ones that I have only just started to respond to and try and answer for myself. Monday 6th – Tuesday 7th October I travelled to Aberdeen in the search to answer these questions and to find out how Natasha works as a director. I witnessed a technical rehearsal of Natasha’s touring production “The Blank Album” and a rehearsal of the curtain raiser, performed by a group of young people who are aspiring dancers from the Aberdeen community. Because I have only just started to probe these questions for some meaning, I feel it is necessary not to get too caught up in settling on one set idea but too keep a continuous stream of thoughts while sorting and organising.

Please see the video of “The Blank Album” in my Vod Pod to the right.  

SOME THOUGHTS ON…….

 

JOURNEY

The body subject to its surroundings

The body subject to its surroundings

This one was not the first

This one was some things I predicted

This one was some things I didn’t predict

This one I had conversations with people I knew

This one I had conversations with those I didn’t

This one I was surprised

This one I was enlightened

This one was therapeutic

This one I had new thoughts

This one I had new aims

This one I found more passion

This one I had the drive

 

SELF DIRECTION

  • It is only you that can decide when the time is right, or if any at all to offer your opinions and questions.
  • You must have the courage to speak with intent to further your own knowledge and provoke others to speak theirs.
  • At no point must you feel that you don’t have the knowledge or capacity not to do something but you must also acknowledge your action within its surroundings when choosing to speak out or take action. 

 

THE TRAINED PERFORMER

 The http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ says: to be ‘trained’ is to educate for ”a role or function.”

To me: the term TRAINED can be read as something fixed and permanent. On the other hand – To TRAIN is something ongoing.

 

I want to ask: Why do we never say, “he/she is training to be a performer”? Especially when he/she has already graduated and is working and living as an artist. Surely the performer is always undergoing training? It is clear to me that performers have to maintain and continually hone their skills. They are continually trying to push their bodies for performance and always strive to be their best.

These are some of the things I’ve been thinking about. Please add some thoughts of your own.

The 1st move.

•October 5, 2008 • 1 Comment

Welcome to my site! Please join me in my exploration of the body in constant motion.  

Body in constant motion will be a six-month placement with Natasha Gilmore, a Glasgow based dance artist. I was interested in having the opportunity to assist and observe Natasha’s practice as she is at a very exciting stage in her career. She is an established artist who has strong roots in her strict dance theory background. After seeing Natasha’s work “The Blank Album” and “Songs of Home Songs of Hope” I became fascinated with the way she allows the human qualities of each performer to shine through, whether they are experienced performers or not. By working with one particular artist I hope to deepen my knowledge of how to use ones particular skills to collaborate with experienced and non-experienced performers. I want to investigate and challenge how different ways of moving can be explored through the body intentionally or by mistake. I want to explore the boundaries of when we call something dance, movement, performance, theatre.  Why do we struggle to classify at that utilizes the body as the soul purpose to entertain, inform and challenge those who watch it?  

At this point you are probably wondering, well why? Why am I interested in movement as a performer?

The expression and theatricality that the body is capable of expressing captivates me. It is the complex vocabulary of movement that each of us contain, with or without realizing it that forces my body to crave a deeper understanding of why we choose to move and what makes movement such a powerful medium of expression.  This query alone will be difficult one to pin down and understand, but I believe that by questioning our fascinations we can only enrich our understanding with the power of performance and inevitably the world we live in.  

In this blog you will find myself sifting, deleting, managing, expanding and exploring my own thoughts in a way to categorize my own learning by immersing myself in another artists work. Whether this is through observing or taking on responsibilities within the world of this artist.  I hope to widen my knowledge about movement and its meaning, especially in direct relation with my ever growing fascination with the body’s attempt to break out and at the same time conform to the environment it is in. Even now, I sit here typing, moving, and putting to use the capabilities of my body to communicate to you. All around us our body attempts to accommodate and mould itself to the digital world.

…I came to see that movement is one of the great laws of life. It is the primary medium of our aliveness, the flow of energy going on in us like a river all the time, awake or asleep, twenty-four hours a day. Our movement is our behavior; there is a direct connection between what we are like and how we move…As people begin to move in their own way, they are faced with feelings of surprise and delight and often of anxiety and embarrassment. Judgments, corrections and explanations are of no use. It is their movement, and it happened just that way.

Mary Whitehouse

 

I hope that during my time with Natasha I can use film and photography to enhance my exploration of movement.  This site will be a laboratory for self-exploration and development of an artist who is drawn to the body in constant motion. 

Mp3Raid music code

•February 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 
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