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.
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.
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.
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…