It it amazing what happens when we lift each other up and find allies within our field that we can support and develop along side one another. During my MFA studies at the Dance & Participation program at DDSKS I was lucky enough to attend Tiziana Fraciolla's classes. Tiziana and I worked in the past as collegues and danced on the stage together but I had never attended her classes. It became clear to me that her deep and developed research in form of a class, was touching upon so many aspects that relate to the Vertical Dance practice I train with common curiousity towards how bodies and architecture function together and in relation to one another. BUT she had managed to tap into a whole aspect of exersises, formulation and flows that so far I never found access too and had felt a longing to find- How to prepere the body and mind? How to train without a rope? How to link the technical physical preperation with an openess towards flow and creativity.
Tiziana managed to create a space for clam and mindfull listenning while edging towards the bourders of stability and instability which was mind blowing for me and filled a wish I've had for a long time to find a training base that encourages curiousity in the body whilest preparing it as well as the attention to work with the turning axis, on the vertical plane and finally in a harness on the wall and in the air.
Lucky for me Tiziana thought it was a good idea to collaborate on a Training labratory and that is what we have done!
A volenterry period full of questions and trying out with a lot of support and playfulness.
Here is the information and some photos:
In a collaboration between Esther Wrobel/ Sparrow Dance and Tiziana Fracchiolla, we have created a lab together with dance practitioners, Tanya Montan Rydell, Annika kompart and Lucia Jaen. Using Tiziana's physical practice of “(de)stabilization and connection” to train and explore it’s effects on vertical dance and in a site-specific architectural landscape at Skydebanehaven.
Editing video from research
It's a difficult task to edit a video from 12-day research. We went down several paths that caught our interests and there is no ONE order or conclusion, but several routes of interests that crossed, meshed, threaded, and intensified as the days went by. Do you try to show a little of everything? Or do you zoom in on one particular moment..?
I decided instead of one long documentation to make several short films with different topics that came up.
About part one:
SCALE and ASTRONAUTS are two words and intentions that arrived separately to the workroom and with the doing found their way towards each other to create the theme:
Tiny astronauts. Editing by myself. Tanya will be next to edit, I'm very curious to see her perspective.
Myopic time (MT)-Labs at Godsbanen
I've been taking a deep dive into the world of microgravity, or rather the atmosphere of it. It's the step that follows Moon Spot from last December. This time I was thinking where else can we go? How else can we share the weightless feeling? This time I had collaborators (YES!!) and that added a new dimension to what can be explored and the reflections that show up.
What is gravity? Gravity is a combination of mass and energy. The biggest mass around will have the strongest pull. That's why we are always pulled to the earth. Playing on these forces in dance always leads to understanding the value of weight. I have begun to think of weight as a currency. The more you have it, the more you are able to move. In the counterweight system (I still don't know what to call it, but we started referring to it as 'the system') if you are too light, you will just stay hanging with no real agency, but with the right weight, you can decide; heavy or light is a question of your patience, your intention and the full engagement from your center towards the direction you want to go. When unfamiliar, it's a confining system that limits you, but if you know it, it's an instrument you can play. The beauty of getting to know 'the system' from the inside is that it becomes 'another' reality to exist in. A reality I miss and long for. Although it also reveals how much we are used to the pressures the air is applying to us at every moment. How we are constantly compressed towards the earth, with an air pressure that keeps us put together. This pressure is something we are used to, and in it, we feel free. But every system of control can become a superpower when you start working the boundaries and discover how to fully lean into the edges and ride the waves it can offer. In 'the system' we get an opportunity to glimpse a reality where the set of limitations change and with the others in the research we started speaking about, how it can also be an empathy tool for understanding others that move through the world within a different set of limitation, whether it be size, shape, weight, function or dysfunction. Every existence is presented with a set of 'rules', a physical and spatial setup that allows and prohibits pathways for moving through the day. Experiencing one disposition that is different from your natural one, suddenly opens the door to thinking of all the other ways that others can, might, and do exist in. Our personal disposition in the world is not the same as others might have.
I think about this research in a rhizomatic way, it is tangled and weaved, it is threaded and keeps leading to more and more connections. What makes sense right now is only intuitive. The tree resonates with the bird that resonates with flying that leads to aloneness and loneliness that leads to contact that leads to isolation and a wish to connect.
The structure of laying and layers seems right to the exploration of action that revolves around its axis. If up and down are under question, how can there be a clear beginning and end? Everything in the universe is drawn to being round. The sphere is the most papular shape as all the forces equally press in all directions. In MT-Labs we found the arches and spheres more and more present as we tried to push the boundaries of the system, and illustrate it in the Tilt-Brush a VR program we used, waring the VR headset while in the system and describing the movement trajectories.
The research is now open. I have learned that placing virtuosity with fragility together, has an impact on the attention in the room. A flying astronaut is out there in a distance, high above. But when we take the image of the flying astronaut (a dancer in the system) and project it on a regular piece of paper, the astronaut is tiny and suddenly needs our care and attention. We played with scale and we responded with emotion to scale. If the paper is moved, the tiny astronaut is gone.
Some key words became a usual visitor, with no order of importance, just weaving into each other and meshing:
Layers, multiplicity, nature, a tree, papers, microgravity, expanded choreography, awe, wonder, Action-Performance, Sphere, bowl.
Coming home, I found myself going online and ordering a pocket projector to continue to play with a smaller scale microgravity dance. I struggle to stay in place and reflect back. I feel the pull to dive deeper and deeper into this post-gravitational slope.
Residency took place at Åbne Scene in Godsbanen Aarhus.
12 days, divided into three periods of 4 days each between October and December 2020.
Collaborators/ contributors: Artist and film director Michelle Kranot, dance artists Tanya Montan Rydell, Lucia Jaen Serrano, and Mette Overgaard.
Help from Virtual Reality company - Khora.
additional help: Miriam Shwartz.
These days I am still thinking about how application writing is affecting the art and the artist. Therefore I am working towards writing a longer essay that digs deeper into the relation between how we choose who to fund and how that process has a long term effect on the art that gets made and the life and behaviour of the artist.
I made a facebook post sharing the poem like text from the previous blog post which led to interesting comments and chats exposing the symbiotic and almost loving relation that writing and dancing can have but also the vast differences between the two activities. Also the question of what is language came up and the struggles within academia to acknowledge movement as communication or even accept a conversation of what constitutes language, which is really fascinating and endless. Following that post I had two conversations-interviews with colleagues to get other points of view on writing in the context of applying in the performing arts field.
It's inspiring to talk to people. We have so much in common in our struggles dealing with what it means to be an independent choreographer/performance maker. I am looking forward to sharing more understanding and thoughts but at the moment I am almost overwhelmed by the amount of questions and topics that need to be addressed and defined before I can coherently share more.
So even though in my google drive folder titled WHY APPLICATION WRITING. There are already 11 pages of text discussing the issue from many different angles. The writing is tough!! Ironic and symbolic in relation to the topic at hand.
A comment on application writing
What happens to dance when the dancer is busy writing?
When the dancer is busy writing, there is no dance happening. There is no body carving through a three-dimensional space. When the dancer is busy writing there is no thinking in movement, no flexing of muscles, no collapses, no falls, no catches. There are no lines marked in mid-air and no mind-body connection. There is no blood flowing with rushed oxygen to firing nerves. There are no difficult or virtuosic actions happening, there are no random moves that will birth new ones and no accidental magic. There is no panting and no sweat, the air is still. When the dancer is busy writing no one is playing with gravity.
No warmth spreading, no surfaces touching. When the dancer is busy writing there is no up and down in spiral form, no making friends with the floor or any pressing of any kind.
When the dancer is writing her body is paused in a still posture.
Her position hovers in silence while her mind is active. She is imagining. When the dancer is busy writing there is dance in her head, there are imagined movements, structures, and meetings. There is a wish for a dynamic, catch and decent. There are concepts forming and connections made. But there is no dancing happening.
When they finally meet again, lagging from the lack of recognition, from imagined to real. They cut through the cobwebs of their distance. The dancer and the dance together again and slowly they get back in shape, they communicate and shape the inside and the outside. But it’s hard, time and time again. It slows the dance and it slows the dancer.
Why always such a long break? I was busy writing, says the dancer to the dance, so that we could meet again.
Dreams and real life
My daughter was born. We named her Ella. She is gorgeous. She managed to do a 180 into breeched position just a couple of days after her due date, which is a difficult task for a baby unborn, to use so much power to unplug a fix in hip head and head, head-strong in the wrong direction! Maybe she will be an artist too... someone very determined that is only guessing which way is the right one to go.
On the dream topic I mentioned last time, I managed to collect two interviews. Both reveal the flying as a natural act for the person while in the dream and an addition to their physical memory that could answer the question - What has your body experienced?
This matches my flying memories from a childhood dream. I knew what I needed to do to fly, which was standing on a chair and then spiral my body into the air, like swirling upwards in water. Another notable thing is that no one so far has flown in their dreams in a way that mimics film flying (horizontal lying with arms spread out, ala Peter Pan) So there is a point to follow that the flying seams like a personal inherited ability which is not copying directly images that have been seen outside of oneself but are following some kind of physical unconscious intuition of HOW to elevate, which vary, each person finding a different technique.
Reading: I'm spending time with Deleuze and Guattari's 'A thousand Plateaus'. Trying to understand the rhizome concerning the notion of the tree. Have we been obsessed with trees and tree structures? so much that it's all that we see, and the connective structures/growing around get cut off and even whipped out to give us a 'clean image' of a single standing tree, branching up and rooting down and that's it. I let my eyes go down to the grass and trace the way it spreads, creating a multiplicity of connections and entry points. I appreciate it.
Flying and imagination
First of all, I just want to say that it has been really cool getting positive responses on Facebook to the first post from this blog. It's already been helpful in surprising ways; for instance, Jeff Friedman from the USA suggested his chapter in 'Bodies of Evidence: Queer Oral History' on "how non-gravitational based movement creates a certain movement signature that has ramifications for cognition.." Sounds fascinating and relevant and probably not something I could find myself. I look forward to checking out his work! And I hope it’s also interesting for you, reading this, to check him out.
The topic I wanted to write about in this post is connected to the role of imagination. I have been thinking of the presence of imagination, both in the Moon Spot experiment but also in general in aerial dance practice. It is very hard to dance on a wall if you don't to some level convince yourself (imagine?) that the wall is a floor and that the rules of up and down have shifted by a 90 degrees flip. Once you do that, the body aligns, it gets organized by this new understanding and then dancing and playing can begin to happen. Meaning, from my personal experience, the technique of dancing on the wall and the ability to be imaginative are intertwined and co-dependent. I recognized a similar use of imagination in Moon Spot, where the imagination of 'being' on the moon, informed the bodies on how to behave. The anticipated moonlike gravity encouraged the participants to explore and play in a certain way that was seamless and technically quite advanced. So the imagination contributed to a speeding up of technical understanding and capability.
I’d like to follow up on imagination and technique as two corresponding elements in a practice that involves alternate gravity, how would it be to investigate a bit further this connection?
As I'm only days away from my due date, I can't go to the floor anytime soon. But imagination and embodiment can exist on other planes of consciousness such as in daydreams and also in dreams. A while back I wanted to explore people’s different techniques of flying as they show up in their dreams. This seems like a perfect time to follow up on that lead and dive a little deeper into the experience of alternate gravity in our imagination in another conscious state... and see what comes up.
So if you ever experienced a flying dream whether in the past or in the present (or daydream about flying) and you feel like sharing your technique and experience with me, I would be very happy to hear from you, and make a little interview! so please let me know, I'll be here:-)
why a research diray blog?
As I am pregnant and just went on maternity leave I find myself in a unique situation where I have more than a year before I will submit my final thesis in May 2021 of a dance-based practice MFA at the Danish National School of Performing Arts. So I have time to reflect, read find a direction, research and write (the other 5 artists in my program will submit already this May 2020!). I don't want to get lost in time as I'm also becoming a mom of two and life has its way of filling up. So in order to keep a thread of thought alive in this curvy thesis process I'm venturing on, I've decided to start this blog diary page. Here I will share the process as it's coming along when it's coming along and anything else that turns up relevant. I hope that the transparent blog format will be helpful and engaging also for others, and am welcoming reflections and comments from anyone that would like to engage.
I'm posting here a video 'sum up' of an artistic research project I did this past December (2019) Which is the first stab in finding a direction towards how to share alternate gravity and how to explore its experience and values.
More explanations and thoughts below the video...:-) thanks for visiting this blog!
Leading up to...
My interests continuously gravitate towards pretty big and abstract concepts such as perspectives on reality and its perception, gravity and it’s ‘alternate options’ and using vertical dance to explore concepts of the body relating to the space it exists in. Huge terms always need further definitions in order to be explored and communicated, So I needed to zoom in on a specific topic in order to begin. For this research, I have been focusing on the idea of sharing the experience of being in an alternate gravity state. Instead of performing for others as I normally do I constructed a one-on-one mini-lab and invited persons of various backgrounds to have a taste of how it is to work in an aerial dance system that can play and alter the sensation of gravitational forces on the body. This exploration is a way to come out of the intimate but also a limited shell of the performer/choreographer role that I have often where the experience is quite deep but also only within, and to explore what are other peoples experiences? How do they explore and play? Do we share similar reactions? or do people respond completely differently both in the negative and the positive?
Why the moon…?
During the planning stages of the experiment, while I was trying to figure the HOW of the sharing, my thesis supervisor Camille Buttingsrud dropped me a note to check out the book A neurophenomenology of Awe and Wonder by Shaun Gallagher et al. This book explores the concepts of Awe and Wonder from the perspective of astronauts orbiting around the earth. The astronaut’s interviews include vivid descriptions of the view on earth and of the overview effect that has the potential to be life-changing and spiritually/emotionally impactful. Shaun and his team recreated an astronaut’s experience in order to explore further the overwhelming feeling one can have when placed in front of such a unique viewpoint as your home planet. Two things drew my attention, the first was the observation of how well do we humans know about what it’s like to be in space even though most of us have never even come close. The familiarity with space is due to popular culture, films, photos, media reports and so on. The second thing was that in Gallagher and his colleague’s research when they decided to make a recreation of the astronaut’s experience in orbit, they chose to focus primarily on the visual sense, that they deemed as most relevant and recreated the same view that one would see from space. They did not make any attempt to include the sensation of microgravity which would be the ‘air’ the body’s of the astronauts would be immersed in.
This made me think, maybe I could do that part of the research. Like a little sister from afar, without permission, I could follow similar steps and questions the Awe and Wonder team followed, only I would focus on the microgravity. The advantage this would provide would be a clear idea of ‘where we are’ when it came to alternate gravity, instead of trying to come up with the right instructions, concepts to describe this alternate gravity in the aerial dance system, I could simply adjust it to be familiar. We will go to the moon. Now an image comes to mind and it could be much easier to invite participants to enter the experiment.
So I built the experiment around the idea of an image and imagination rather than a technical construction. This choice gave both me and the participants a clear frame, as well as the freedom to enter and explore.
Going forward I have to figure out if I’d like to stick with the moon and go even deeper, explore other types of spaces or venture towards other types of experiments altogether. It all depends on that chore question which should lead the research, a question I still can’t figure out what is!! As I have become only more curious in much more than one direction...