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. 

Fight or embrace?

Week 2 of the CID project saw us lead physically in exploratory tasks by Bim Malcomson to find a sense of ballet’s use of points in space, how the carriage of the arms can help us reach and trace to the edge of our kinesphere, how we can use opposing directional forces to find moments of expansion and how we can shape the geography and landscape of the space by physically relocating from one place to another. Using this acquired information, we worked on a series of tasks in pairs to create duets which we then performed to each other.

By Effie McGuire Ward

Effie McGuire Ward (Dance Collaborator for the CID Project) reflects on the second session of the project

Investigating Parkinson’s

Following our physical practice, we came together for a group discussion and reflection. One of the topics which particularly resonated with me from this discussion was that the workshop had been a safe space to embrace the condition of Parkinson’s for artistic investigation as opposed to having to fight or hide the indicators of Parkinson’s in the ‘real world’.

For me, dance very much instigates this interplay with our relationship to ourselves and provides situations where we become more aware of when we are choosing to embrace (or perhaps accept) our individual traits and choices, as well as highlighting some things we might like to change and so may choose to fight against in an effort to grow our creative offering.

What was striking in watching other people’s duets, was how interesting and individual they were whilst all coming from the same framework. There was certainly a connecting and shared collective thread, but so much space for individual contribution through this possibility that each person in the room could embrace their own self. This brought about several unexpected moments which I’d never have come up with and which I kind of wish I had!

As a collective, I feel there is (perhaps subconsciously) an ambition in the room to find, develop and inhabit our own individual movement language where we can be comfortable but also offer a creative voice as artists with or without Parkinson’s. Having a space to embrace our own individual offer therefore is paramount to:

– noticing and accepting our habits
– embracing and developing them to become tendencies in how we might choose to move
– allowing our tendencies to grow to become our own distinct style or flavour which we can contribute to the collective

*This outlook on habits, tendencies and style was a provocation offered to me a few years ago from Kerry Nicholls as part of her Performance Mentoring Programme, the discussion of embracing or fighting in this week’s CID project brought it to the forefront of my thinking again