CID Project week 3 workshop insight

This workshop insight contributed by Sally Varrall, supporting artist on the CID project, offers thoughts on visibility within the frame of seeing & being seen, in the week 3 CID workshop led by Casson & Friends.

In the exploratory phase of the workshop we were invited to work with a partner, with one dancer beginning the spatial journey of an imaginary thread, making clear the end of the journey enabling their partner to continue.  This also became a group improvisation with three dancers initiating a thread weaving a journey, finding stillness, until the thread was temporarily accompanied by a different dancer. The exploratory nature of these improvisations brought heightened awareness to the moment of connection (for me) with another dancer.

In that moment I am seeing and looking with different eyes, through an inquisitive lens – and delight in those unexpected shared moments where decisions are made in an instant that knowingly resonate, and are seen in that intimate moment between the two dancers. It seems the dance allows for a momentary suspension of time. I do not know if in that moment anyone else sees what occurred. The magic is in the shared moment of feeling visible.

Sally Varrell

In the performative phase of the workshop we were invited to share the dances we made (our morning breakfasts) in a fairly formal format (in front of black drapes), set up to allow for the dance to be filmed and the dancers to be visibly captured on camera – capturing our dancing identities.

In this experience I became more consciously aware of being seen; of our dancing being seen. This sense of being watched brings more attention to my physical presence in the space and I become particularly vigilant of my relationship with the person I am dancing with – how close our hands come together and whether our fingers overlap as we are physically tracing the thin slices of sourdough bread my dancing partner ate for breakfast. I was consciously aware of the circular turning motion as we wrapped our arms around ourselves, and rotated at different speeds (peeling the oranges of the marmalade). My internal eyes were on my partner; my external eyes sensed us being seen. Unbelievably it was these moments that were captured on camera!

Sally Varrall

Discussing the essence of identity, Fraleigh (in Carter, 1998) refers to the process of looking at dance reveals its identity – its individuality. This has resonance with the focus of this project on Collective Identity, and more specifically suggests the dance we made provides a consensual, collective experience within which the dancers show their distinctive individuality. 

A dance for two…

Week 3 of the CID project saw us play together with the concepts of narrative and storytelling led by Casson and Friends artist Chloe Mead. We developed close personal duet material which we shared together for the rest of the group.

We connect through the body, senses and eyes. I learn about you. You learn about me. We play together.  Moving, connecting, smiling. The more we play, the more we understand each other. We begin to take risks, pushing the other with a sense of lightness and intrigue. Respect. We begin to bend the rules, finding our own language and code. Rewriting the rules to our very own game. We share an understanding. An experience. A connection. 

Play provides space for rich explorations and meaningful connections. I encountered a genuine sense of play throughout the session this week. It allowed me to connect with the other dancers with lightness and curiosity as we played together. Providing a safe space for personalities and identities to emerge within the room.

by Ella Fleetwood

Ella Fleetwood (Dance Collaborator for the CID Project) reflects on play as practice in the third week of the CID project

Visibility

One of the values underpinning the CID project is bringing visibility to people with Parkinson’s and their contribution to the dance community. This has been a featured topic in our discussion groups at the end of each weekly workshop.

I found it difficult to talk about the project to others afterwards, difficult to convey how special it felt. So (as we discussed in the feedback session) visibility feels especially important. Many of us know what it feels like to be embarrassed by the effects of Parkinson’s and the feeling that we have to hide the symptoms. Here is our chance to do the opposite: to stand up and be seen, maybe even shout about it. The fact that we are working towards a final sharing event which perhaps includes some kind of performance means that, if the telling is difficult, we can show what we mean.

Kate Swindlehurst, dancer

The visual arts element of the project was designed to bring visibility to the work and to reframe the dancing body through the artists lens. In week 3 of the CID project we experimented with framing portraits of the dancers during the workshop led by Chloe Mead. The workshop focused on individual storytelling and narrative, and the resulting images bring a personal insight to the dance experience, connections we have made, and the willingness shown by our wonderful dance collaborators, to share and be seen.

Images by Sara Hibbert