playtime (week 1) 1

It’s funny to now come back to this, over a week later. The intensity of it is still there, but there’s also a lot of pain in my soul now. I want to go back to that intensity, and discuss that, rather than the things that have come to taint my memory of it. It’s funny isn’t it? How we hold memories as solid beings but they’re total fluid, shifting with time and age.

The above is several moments from my first day in the rehearsal room. My making has a loose structure; playtime, formation and finesse. Playtime is the heart of my forthcoming work; it’s where I can work through ideas and questions, and most importantly, make mistakes. As an improviser failure is core to my dancing; without it I am a feelingless bag of bones shifting my weight around the space.

So it’s play; it’s silly, it sometimes feels directionless. I implement rules for guidance, but like any good playtime, I break them a lot. Here I posed myself several impossible questions, or tasks, to move through, against and beyond. This as a process is something I’ve adopted from Deborah Hay, whose work propels itself from the same starting point. She said, of Nora’s Where Home Is:

‘I am interested in choreography that does not look like anything and is performed by exceptionally astute and experienced dancers.
Their behavior disorienting, comfortingly spare, right in silence. Gone the predator, no do-gooders around, everything moves, inextricably bound.’ –
(Deborah Hay, 2018)

This thinking draws me out of myself. I still face my own limitations: I am uneasy moving in silence; I sometimes find myself attempting things my body knows no how to execute; my mind wanders, a lot. I have no solutions for them yet, only a desire to overcome them.

There was one task and one question I worked through during the above session. The first is draw a map to something you’ve lost. The impossibility of it draws me out of my body towards my own words. I didn’t find it, but now, a week later, I’ve actually lost something, I wonder how this might be different.

The question rambles on: what is the force of a map, if the map is made by the moving body, and those movements are at a tension between their birth and vanishment? I like the layers of it. I like force, as a giver, a pusher, a doer in the space.

There are several images from the above I might return to, but one that leans into pedestrian movement is the action of skimming stones. You’ll see it, in there somewhere. It struck me, as my body began to curl and throw an invisible stone into an invisible body of water. The repetition, exhaustion, over and over, definition growing and growing. I like this idea that the marks of a skimmed stone are the memories of it, impressed into the water momentarily, before being carried away into the heart of the lake.

My final thought for today comes back to Where Home Is. This work really strikes me in its collision between abstract movement and authentic feeling. One of my fears for the work I am making is a fear that if the map is just for me, why share it with an audience? I don’t have an answer, but I am slightly consumed by a heightened awareness of how to make it emotionally accessible. I feel I must come back to myself, to the why, to the feeling. That’s what the moving does, so I’ll likely keep doing that.

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