CID Project insight Jaka Skapin

Vocal improv is one of the hardest musical practices because of its necessity for surrender and compassion, as is the same in dance improvisation. Surrender and kinaesthetic compassion are things we have explored in detail in our Dancing with Parkinson’s programme.

For years, Danielle and I have been collaborating in our disciplines – connecting closely with the idea of movement and musical improvisation inspiring and arising from each other. In this way, I had been fostering the idea of combining Dancing With Parkinson’s practice with group vocal improvisation. It just made sense. Vocal improv is one of the hardest musical practices because of its necessity for surrender and compassion, as is the same in dance improvisation. Surrender and kinaesthetic compassion are things we have explored in detail in our Dancing with Parkinson’s programme.

At one of our inspiring sessions of the CID Project at Poplar Union, the worlds of community dance (on a high artistic and expressive level) and vocal improvisation (with a group of professional singers) collided. The six singers I worked with had not sung together before, thus we met earlier and tried to fuse together as a group. From the moment the dancers arrived, they were immersed in the a cappella world that does not preoccupy itself with form or technique, but rather human expression and grace. 

Through the interface of this project, we brought together such different individuals that might not consider themselves as artists or creatives and gave them the chance to explore their humanity in a collective and supportive environment

As I said to the singers before the start of the session, we’re not here to give voice to the dancers, we’re here to reflect their collective movements back to them as sound. Then we played. After an hour and a half the singing stopped, but my mind and body didn’t. It’s hard to describe it; it was so fun and liberating to be able to connect on that level, no mediators, no technology, no wires and no speakers. We were weaving in and out of each other, creating organic shapes and communicating equally. Through the interface of this project, we brought together such different individuals that might not consider themselves as artists or creatives and gave them the chance to explore their humanity in a collective and supportive environment. Through my eyes, they’re all masters of what counts most. Being. Even if just for that hour on Wednesday afternoons.

CID Project week 6 workshop insight

One of the original collaborative relationships that initiated the CID Project was that between Artistic Director Danielle Teale and Music Director Jaka Skapin. From the outset this was to be an immersive experience bringing dance and music equally into the forefront of improvisation and creative exploration.

Featuring vocal artists:
Akeim Buck
Briony Green
Jaka Skapin
Marcia Willis
Uran Apak
Veronica Royet

As we rehearsed our work for the CID Project sharing this week, 5 singers under the direction of Jaka Skapin created sound improvisations, like a duet moving with us through the space, supporting us in a circle and following the energy of the movement we created. We were at once supported by and inspired by the sound they created, unsure as to which came first the movement or the music. This total collaboration brought about a trust, a dialogue, and also a tangible comfort, holding the space for our movement to be cushioned and embraced.

A beautiful place, beautiful people, one feels welcome, safe, looked at with kindness and respect.

TRUST is strong and BONDS are visible, touchable… so it’s easy to sing… easy to breathe and let the sounds of the intentions and movement of the dancers come out… Breathing, together… Listening beyond ears… Watching beyond eyes… Reaching one another equally in music and dance – profoundly human…

Veronica Royet, Singer

For our project sharing on 20 July, Jaka and I knew we wanted the work to be both physically and aurally original, and for the two to emerge together during the project. In week 6, the vocal accompaniment was shaped by the dancers who directed the singers in a merging of sound and movement which was all recorded live. From operatic voice, to poetry, to a complete cacophony of bizarre sounds, each group has curated vocal accompaniment for their choreography which will be shared both live and recorded at the exhibition.

Not only was the workshop this week instrumental in supporting the dancers vision for their performance, but also for the visual artists to cement their concepts for what would be offered in the final exhibition of work…

Within the dance space there is a strong sense of emotive and physical support (the term ‘safe-space’ was brought up in several discussions, but the feeling often goes much deeper than this term conveys) – both between the dancers towards each other, as well as to themselves individually. This resonated particularly during week 6, when several vocal improvisers joined the group. Their voices felt almost like a physical cushioning, that held the space for the dancers to explore their evolving ideas, and reflected movement back to them. Movement seemed to become about an awareness of individual and collective presence, of the gaps between each other, of holding an invisible expanse of trust. This is what led me, whilst reviewing the thousands of images I’d taken throughout the process, to focus on these spaces between. 

Sara Hibbert, CID Project artist

The results of these collaborations and the rich work that has unfolded will be shared on 20 July at our sharing and exhibition at Poplar Union. Please visit the website for more information and join us there!