Insight into research project: Phe-NoumeNow

The framework of the creation of the piece Phe-NoumeNow is the Master in Creative practice at Laban and Independent dance, London, 2019. The module taught is performance making.

The piece is a 15min long dance piece. It is the fruit of a collaboration between 4 performers, 1 guitar player, a choreographer, a dramaturge/poet and the audience.

You may have seen or not seen the performance, you may have been part of the creative process with or without knowing it, or you may want to take part by reading and reacting to this blog.

Hereunder is a description of the research and further down, notes of all the rehearsals that took place, the questions raised, the findings, the doubts, some references, and self reflection about the creative process.

What is the research about?

The research is about identity, co-creation and roles within the performance setting and the creative process.

The questions raised are: how much do we rely on our role within the performance setting and creative process, and how much do we assume, expect, act out the role we believe we embody? Wanting to challenge ourselves (as performers) and the audience on how we position ourselves within the setting and how much these roles are taken for granted.

In order to approach the topic, we took one element that is commonly assumed as the role of the spectator: the one of the observer or witness.

As performer/makers we want to experience what it is to be an audience. We indeed took on the role of the witness and decided to expand it further into its potential and possibilities.

We dug into ways and modes of witnessing and affect. How do we get affected by the presence of others? More particularly, we used the word ‘witness’, inspired by Mary Stark House and Janet Adler from authentic movement. We also took inspiration from the book Between us, Audiences, affect and the in-between, by Joanne Bob Whalley and Lee Miller to have a broader understanding and perspective on what it is to be an audience. Few points we retained are:

-the affect defined by Spinoza as ‘the capacity to affect or be affected’

-the proxemics relations between people by Edward T. Hall: ‘intimate, personal, social and public’

Which led us to question: How is it to witness and being witnessed? How do we get affected by it?

We worked on various ways of witnessing, through touching, observing, being present and framing, but also giving feedback on what is happening or what has just happened (also present in the product). Instead of involving the audience, we used each other to be our own audience and witness. We went through the experience of being an audience and how being observed can affect us, support us, or even sometimes isolate. We experienced and discussed what it is to be witnessed, and is it possible to have no witness, not even ourselves? We worked in solos and in groups. We found out that having no witness can also be freeing.

Out of this, we defined specific parameters of the 2 experiences of witnessing ourselves and having no witness whatsoever.

It made us aware that, even when there is no audience or witness, the simple fact of thinking of how others would perceive us creates an imaginary witness. This lead me to write the choreographer’s note of the beginning, stating the presence of the audience within the creative process.

We also recognized that a part of us is craving to be seen and another part that does not want to be seen, so that in a sense we have this wish to be seen, felt, understood, received by others, as performers and as human beings, and at the same time we want to hide.

Hereunder are the notes of our research and project.

Rehearsal number 1

Laban, 13/10/19 Marc, Sofia, Louise

Process, Co-creation, Transparent, reflective, sharing thoughts, ideas,

constantly self-reflecting and self-processing, self-assessing while doing, while moving.

Research on biotensegrity

Tensegrity structures and biotensegral presence. Creating floating structures (locking: pulling and pushing at the same time).

Disruption: one at a time: say disruption. Lead to rippling effect

2 structures: locking arms and gaze. How to move from one structure to the other? (J Vardimon clock: rolling from one to the other). Create a system that can repeat

Gaze tensegrity: how can we create tension and compression in the gaze? Looking at someone in the eyes? What does it mean to disrupt in that case?

Peripheral vision.We are all connected. Even if we look at someone and this person looks at us, someone else may be witnessing?

How about getting close and attracted to one person, but look at someone else? Choreographic eyes.

Witnessing. (Janet Adler). Relationship audience-performer and client therapist. The witness is also witness of her own sensation.

The witness watches a witness, that watches the mover. (Marc)

What if we all look at 1 person?

Text by Steve Paxton(Kent de Spain) mirror hall of gaze. Glances events or phenomena.

Literally: 2 lines of gazes, and one person in the middle. (with fake audience). How about the fake audience create the frame?

Dancers writing their impressions: recap poetry

Sofia: Here’s the creation of an interconnectd system that moves effortlessly and organically. Listen

Marc: multiplicity of connection btw performer/audience member

Louise: tension in the space: chging, expanding, releasing… gaze and tension. Smile releases tension

Find out, reading: kinaesthetic empathy, strings space

Next time:

Generate material:Pelvis duet. Link with floating structure. How do the duets transform into floating structures? How do these structure dialogue with one another?

Create a system that can be disrupted…. influenced, repeated.

How do we disrupt? How does it affect the movers?

Create 2 more floating structures. And how do we move from one to the other.

Material: crescent rolls, pathways, spirals

Witnesses:experiment 1 individual being framed, being watched. (eyes close???). Framing can create geometrical shapes. Hall of mirrors. Being one’s own audience/witness.

Individual/group:how can the individual voice be framed? enhanced? Isolated?

Living biotensegrity, Daniele Claude Martin

Tensional continuum- movement, even the smallest, engages the whole body- multiple qualities of movement felt and expressed as a harmonious logic in their flow through the body-elongation, opposition, counter movement, rebound, momemtum p104.

Bird flocks formation (McBeth)p 120

Tensegrity system: t. icosahedra. Short range repulsion mechanism , long range attraction mechanism to the cables. Flock formation: stable volume: balance between embracing (continuous attraction) and the local discontinuous repulsion

Biotensegral body awareness, p95 -Body architecture, dynamic, but also sensory key . Ideokinetic

Relationship space and tension: loaded structure stiffer and stronger: restricts vol. Rel space/strength/resistance

Rehearsal 2

18/10/2019

Maya- Marc, Danny, Sofia, Louise

Influences: authentic movement, biotensegrity, the role of the audience (in between). CI Steve Paxton.

References: Polish director: Tadeusz Kantor

Process:our inner discoveries and self-reflection nourishes and inform the next task, or the next time we work on the same task. It feels like a constantly self-creating and co-creating process that keeps reinventing itself.

Experimental, try out options without having a result in mind. Trying to correlate the elements, what has been said and incorporate it into the whole, like a recipe.

Share, state difficulties, unknown, questions.

Process and witnessing/being witnessed

Constantly thinking of how the audience will see it. Being seen. Audience present in the creative process.

Biotensegral structures:

Danny/Sofia, Maya/Louise

Duets exploring floating structures, tension and compression. (resistence)

Creating a system, a phenomena that can repeat and reverse itself: from tension to compression. Include the gaze and relationship gaze-space.

Locking line

Marc, Danny, Sofia, Maya, Louise, Me

Looking ahead, at the audience. ‘Disruption’ going back and forth. Question: going back to the line feels like a default mode. Rippling and waiting effect.

Line can also be used as ‘an audience blocker’ (while someone is not being witnessed)

Crescent rolls and helix

Tensegral structure (inner tension, equilibrium, spiral, maintain the shape)

Solo and framingwith helix and crescent roll standing

Crescent (Marc), 2D, line.))))))))  being helped by others: where is the center?

Danny solo structure: helix phenomena

Start biotensegral gaze everyone, then framing Danny, then potential duet Sofia, then helix floating spiralling structure, floating trio with eyes closed?, no witness: blocking line.

Winessing, being witnessed, no witness.

No witness: sense of freedom in comparison to being framed.

Solo witness:how to be a witness of our own dance?

Versus no witnessing at all! (in order to know what is no witness, we have to witness). What is it to self-witness? Is it being aware? Bringing consciousness to what we are doing? Tracking? Feeling connected? Sofia: maybe have meditation to lead us into it

Impossible task, intention brings quality of presence.

Questions: how much of a process/versus product do we want to show?

Eg: trio with eyes closed

Commenting:

Camera can comment

Camera presence:change when being seen, not a person but a recording devise.

Other:can you hear the change of temperature?

Audience:

Etymology- Latin

audiēns (genitive audientis); third-declension one-termination participle

1-hearinglistening 2.attending, paying attention to  3.acceptingagreeingobeying

late 14c., “the act or state of hearing, action or condition of listening,” from Old French audience, from Latin audentia “a hearing, listening,” from audientum (nominative audiens), present participle of audire “to hear,” from PIE compound *au-dh- “to perceive physically, grasp,” from root *au- “to perceive.”

Affect: Spinoza: ‘the capacity to affect or be affected’. Relation: between the an affecting and being affected. Does not separate passivity and activity. Affective state, p16. Political dimension. Bodily state informed by the act of witnessing

Wikipedia

phenomenon (Greek: φαινόμενον, phainómenon, from the verb φαίνειν, phainein, to show, shine, appear, to be manifest or manifest itself, plural phenomenais “an observable fact or event”. The term came into its modern philosophical usage through Immanuel Kant, who contrasted it with the noumenon. In contrast to a phenomenon, a noumenon cannot be directly observed. (wikipedia)

Philosphy :

In modern philosophical use, the term phenomena has come to mean ‘what is experienced is the basis of reality‘. In Immanuel Kant’s inaugural dissertationOn the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World (1770), Kant theorizes that the human mind is restricted to the logical world and thus can only interpret and understand occurrences according to their physical appearances. He wrote that humans could infer only as much as their senses allowed, but not experience the actual object itself. Thus, the term phenomenon refers to any incident deserving of inquiry and investigation, especially events that are particularly unusual or of distinctive importance.

Social phenomenon

Group phenomena concern the behavior of a particular group of individual entities, usually organisms and most especially people. The behavior of individuals often changes in a group setting in various ways, and a group may have its own behaviors not possible for an individual because of the herd mentality.

Popular usage

In popular usage, a phenomenon often refers to an extraordinary event. The term is most commonly used to refer to occurrences that at first defy explanation or baffle the observer.

Next time ideas

Maya being framed : listen and not listen.

Rehearsal 3

20/10/19

Maya- Marc, Danny, Sofia, Louise

Inner process (for me): Having the confidence to move towards something that makes sense. How the patches and layers make a whole and create a common sense. Doubting myself, but trusting the process. Trust for the performers, that there is a coherence. I need them on my side.

Discussion and sharing notes about ‘witnessing and being witnessed’

Danny: what speed is observable? Nita Little (move at the speed of the attention of your partner). Knowingly patronizing the audience: close your eyes.

Maya: you should know you own heartbeat (when you slow down). Relative. D. Leahy.

Meditation. Present. Now.

Marc: helixes and crescent warm up body and mind. Transition and structure

Finding a definition of witnessing and dance. Witnessing: Let go of consciousness

Challenge as a dancer: comfortable enough not to be moved or influenced by others.

Louise: Command and response (comments), support and interruption.

Sofia on non-

witnessing: Running myself out. Movement is a consequence. Pay no attention of details.

Movt precede thought?

Witnessing linked to time (speed), space (distance) , senses: touch…., listen,

Crescent rolls and helixes to warm up.

Work on phenomena: learn duets Danny/Sofia and Marc/Louise

Unisson to break down, switch roles

Impro:break it down. Biotensegral gaze (changes the quality of presence and the relationships),

Events: anyone can be a witness at any point. Maya in the center: play the guitar, she is performing for us. Swap with Marc. Danny comments.

Question: what is the focus of attention??????

How to create tension in the space?: through gaze, rhythm: catching each other, acceleration, deceleration: moving at the speed of your attention , or faster. Suspension. Surprise/disruption

Recap poetry:

Sofia:

Witness and sensing: light smell, hearing, touch

no witnessing. I try to pay no attention to details.

‘I move fast so I try to outrun myself. I let one thing carry me to another until a space of just’ that is wat it is now(……). Movement is simply a consequence now, and for few moments, as far as I’m concerned, nobody’s witnessing. I’ve earnerd this.

Marc: The crescent and the Helix were a good warm up, both for the body and mind. They could also help with transitions and structure.
We explored the idea of witnessing our own dance.
It felt like definitions of words such as witness and dance are worth discussing and agreeing upon.

I enjoyed witnessing/focusing on my movements and the space inside and outside of my body.
I was listening, watching, paying attention, noticing and moving in relation to these information.
The next stage we started to explore was to let go off some of the self-consciousness and potentially some of the consciousness. However, we all had different understanding of the task, which made it interesting but also harder to share as a group.
Is one challenge or goal as a performer to not be moved or influenced by the fact that we’re being witnessed?

To the audience :

I am going to read the choreographer’s notes :

Thank you so much for having been part of our process for the last couple of months. We have been thinking of you the whole way through, and your presence has helped us finding a witness in our research.

You have been the noumenon of our phenomena, the unseen part of our visible processes, and sometimes of our unwitnessable trials.

It has been challenging at times to let go of your presence in order to carry out our research and have the possibility to be unseen, unfelt, untasted. (or noumenon)

We would like to have the opportunity today to be your audience, the witness of your presence.

And we would like you to be our performers, by making your witnessing phenomena palpable.

I hope we enjoy your performance.

Next time: Score

Score 1:Impro (switch roles, parameters). Quality of presence: witness, no witness, frame, isolate, support, disruption.

Choreographer: disruption, frame

Define beginning and ending, duration.

Score 2: structure trial

Framing:either enhances or isolate

Floating structure:disruption=injury: adaptive or maladaptive compensatory pattern (coming back to neutral? Default mode?). Equilibrium.

Locking line:small dance. Biotensegral gaze.

Witnessing the audience. Walking back. proximity: intimate, social, public

Noumenon

a thing as it is in itself, not perceived or interpreted, incapable of being known, but only inferred from the nature of experience.

that which can be the object only of a purely intellectual, nonsensuous intuition, the thing-in-itself (Ding an Sich).
an unknowable object (as God), the existence of which is not capable of proof.

Noumena are the basic realities behind all sensory experience. According toKant, they are not knowable because they cannot be perceived, but they must be thinkable because moral decision makingand scientific investigation cannot proceed without the assumption that they exist.

Rehearsal 4

Friday 26/10/19- Sofia, Marc, Danny, Louise

Structure:

Warm uphelix (other way round), crescent roll

Impro on self-witnessingusing words to well from: conscious. Sensing, tracking, perception. Paying attention.  Time: slow, controlled, sustained. Space: distance and relationship

Senses: light, temperature, sound, taste, smell, kinaesthetic awareness, proprioception

Turned into quartet locking line:

-First: develop the impro, with audience, saying what they cannot see, what you feel, hear, sense.

– create 3-4 movement-sentences. Important: don’t say it before the action. (either talk during or after)

– I can (feel, hear, sense, taste), can you?, you cannot

– put it together in a line. Overlapping text.

– idea to link it with the locking line, small dance. Poem from Pete and echoing.

Quartet phenomena:

Include helix, proximity and distance (intimate, personal, social, public)

Then transformed into 2 duets: choreography starts from the eye connection. Tension between people.

Danny-Sofia. Marc-Louise

Process: Now shift in the approach. Instead of going from exploration to creating more material, we need to go from a structure into fitting the elements in, and developing the elements from the structure, finding links, transitions and meaning, Relationships.

Rehearsal 5

27/10/2019- CDS research studio

Marc, Danny, Sofia, Louise

Plan: Putting a structure together

Warm up:crescent the other way round. Helix as a line, a biotensegral structure. Who is leading? Keeping tension in the body

Structure

-Choreographer’s notes. Reaction from performers.

-Duet camera Louise: camera a 3rdperson. Where do we look? What do we see? (zoom in and out, helix spirals)

– Swap roles: me with camera (cue for performers to come in)

-into Marc in the middle. Transition? Cue? What? Space? Delimitation. How do we move him? 1st: listen. Plus when give space to breathe, go into holding hands

-corner him, isolate

– into escaping into floating structures: always look at each other. Or be aware of the gaze, look at something (not necessarly eyes) Danny inside: architextural spaces (spread out and become witness)……Marc says: as…..

SILENCE: swap Myay-Marc, and Camera Pete

– witnessing Danny: Wittguessing, wittgenessing, tissue, tension, listening, …..

– then come closer and witnessing touch

-quartet touch skin: (go in one direction?), interrupted by helixes

– transition Danny and Sofia’s duet: take only snippets (pointing and spiralling)

-three people observing and feedbacking onto what just happened.

– transition into quartet phenomena: look at material: crescents inside, inner rhythm, gaze floating structure.

-Locking line: beginning? Middle? Repeat? Include Pete’s poem.

Add some darkness?

Still the same question, where is the focus, what are we looking at?

What we missed: Un-witnessable solo exploration

Next rehearsal: clarify space, each section individually.

Eg: My camera duet, while sofia-danny

Camera duet: spirals, helix, selfie. Turn around me. And then into spiral. Lift?

Add more up and down spaces in the quartet.

Clear gaze and what we are focusing on: create connections between people.

To add: duet slow mo and sustain PeMa: with Impossible part.

Idea:

End: Crazy solo Maya in darkness. Then last stanza of the poem: Are you, with me?

To think about: costumes and lights!!!!!

Rehearsal 6

7/11/2019- Laurie Grove

Marc-Sofia-Danny-Louise-Tomas (audience/performer)

Quartet:

Incorporate material: lifts and spirals (lift on the shoulder, kneeling, around the back, while walking…). Phrase with hand stand and floating arabesque)

duet Sofia-Marc and Danny-Louise

Choreogaze:

Recap biotensegrity, tensegrity of the gaze and the space, plus

Define the parameters of choreograze:

  • Look around, englobe the whole space
  • Eye to eye contact (create tension)
  • Let yourself be affected by others
  • Let yourself be affected by your own moves
  • Include the audience as a performer!!!!! Don’t cut them out

Question around the audience: a mass of people. Sometimes passed by and don’t recognize or don’t include them. Assume they are audience members and not performers, but what if we shift our attention to create an interaction with them, where we completely integrate them as performers, but without creating an audience participation setting?

Findings: trust the touch, trust you are interrelated through touch and space.

We experience what it is to be an audience

Transition choreogaze into floating structure:

See it as an extension of the gaze, creating tension, compression and elasticity.

Discussion with the dramaturge about archive and temporality:

How do we pass on the poem and the process of creation? What do we do with the recording of the performance by our witnessing camera? Since the process started with the audience earlier than what they are aware of, shall we make the process last longer and involve the audience into further research? We can create a blog with notes, images, making of, rushes of the process. There the poem can also be accessed. This would be a way to activate the audience curiosity and sustain (pérenniser in French) the performance into a more substantial research.

Next time: try being influence by others through touch, pushing through water, mouldable, integral (in opposition to isolated).

Create 3-4 stable floating structure and change gaze. Look towards the audience or…connect gaze

Quartet: keep the strong moments of tension and compression, add some balances, FS. Work on the space!!! How to create and draw the space?

Rehearsal 7

Friday 8/11/19- Laban st 9

Maya- Louise-Danny-Sofia

Reading/inspiration: the qualic exchange. From Between us, audiences, affect and the in-between, by Joanne’Bob’ Whalley and Lee Miller.

Qualia is linked to subjective experiences that cannot be transmitted through verbal communication (eg: the experience of pain). Talking about performance, absence and presence in reference to Ann lee by Tino Seghal. The qualic gap.

Also relate to phenomena: something that is experienced.

Wikipedia

Daniel Dennett identifies four properties that are commonly ascribed to qualia. According to these, qualia are:

  1. ineffable; that is, they cannot be communicated, or apprehended by any means other than direct experience.
  2. intrinsic; that is, they are non-relational properties, which do not change depending on the experience’s relation to other things.
  3. private; that is, all interpersonal comparisons of qualia are systematically impossible.
  4. directly or immediately apprehensible in consciousness; that is, to experience a quale is to know one experiences a quale, and to know all there is to know about that quale.

Music: Today’s rehearsal, we included Maya, the guitar player into the equation, thinking of how the music responds, dialogue, juxtapose, intertwine, provoke, outrun and catch up with the dance. How to create tension in the music? using acceleration, deceleration, catching up, distorting sounds and varying the tempo to unsettle the dance. Irregularity versus regularity. Is the heartbeat regular? The heartbeat fluctuates, is permeable to emotions and feelings.

Music while the poem is being said: take the melody and the rhythm of the words.

Question about when does the performance starts? Does it start once the audience is sat? The performers can be ushers, so they are part of the entrance, already interacting with the audience, taking the role of the ushers, welcoming people and letting them know this performance will be filmed. Giving them option: sit on the top row.

Duet Sofia/Danny:Edit, cut, copy and paste. Take away and repeat: pointing and eye contact. Transform: lift from low to high table. Play with the music and how to ‘stimulate’, trigger each other.

Choreogaze:Adding some parameters: zoom in and out, change perspective.

Floating structures: find more stability and change of gaze 3 times. Include each other and the audience. Some structures go into tension, leaning away from each other, and some structures go into compression, leaning towards each other.

For Maya to do: practice, research and record, to play more with extremes and taking risks. Find the ending: What it means for her to be ‘un-witnessed’

Next time: learn first 2 verses of the poem. Work on the quartet from the duets: how to include Louise and Marc into Danny and Sofia’s duet?

We still have the question of how to make sense out of the space, how to navigate spatially through the space for it to have a coherence with the piece? We can play with the elements of distance (proxemics relations by Edward T. Hall): intimate, personal, social, public. Helixes and spirals

Costumes: theatre goers, formal. Shirt. Individual aspect: patterns, shapes. Color code: Burgundy, yellow, blue or dark blue, dark green.

Process crisis and questioning

Sharing with Performance making group on 11/11/19

Feedbacks from tutors

The question was: what do I want to communicate with the audience?

The answer was: witnessing, being witnessed, can the audience be perceived as a performer? without making the audience participate, but by making them aware of the simple impact of how witnessing and presence can be transformative. We worked on various ways of witnessing, through sensing, presence, feedbacking and self-reflection (also present in the process/product). Instead of involving the audience, we used each other to be our own audience and witness. We went through the experience of being and audience and how being observed can affect us, support us, or even sometimes isolate.

The embodied tools we used were based on the concept of biotensegrity.

The critic was: it does not show in what is being shared. The layering and complexity of the piece is hard to read. I should choose to focus on one aspect of the research. I should narrow it down. The poem is a piece of art to be decrypted in itself. There are too many elements.

My questions: shall I reduce the complexity of my research in order to fit what is expected from me, based on how people receive the work in progress? Is this sharing representative enough of my research at this stage to have feedbacks that can also read my intentions? (knowing that I showed only 2/3 of the piece, it was video-taped and 2 performers were missing?)

How much is the process and is the research understood and taken into account within the parameters of 10min showing and 5 min of feedbacks?

After thought: my conclusion is that I need to articulate better my research and make it more central to one approach, or one perspective, even though I may have used various tools and approaches to apprehend it.

I want to make the difference between the research behind the work, and the product. I call the product the assessment date and how it is received and read on that day. The product embodies one aspect of the research. The research encompasses the creative process, pre and post production, selection of the performers, discussion with the dramaturge, research and experimentation time in the studio, the self-reflection process and questioning, sharing with the performance making group, the poem, reading, and the online blog. The research has a longer time-frame. My idea is to drop in some elements of the research within the product, for example to tell the audience they have been part of our process because we have been including them and thinking of them from the beginning. Giving out the poem to the audience is also a way of inviting the process within the product. We also have some elements of feedbacking/commenting on what we are doing during the performance.

The research is about identity, co-creation and swapping roles within the performance setting.

The questions raised are: how much do we rely on our role within the performance production (as usher, dancer, poet, musician, choreographer, audience….), and how much do we assume, expect, act out the role we believe we embody?  Wanting to challenge ourselves (as performers) and the audience on how we position ourselves within the setting and how much these roles are taken for granted.

Out of this question, we decided to focus on 3 aspects:

1) As performers and makers, we want to experience what it is to be an audience. We dug into ways and modes of witnessing and affect. How do we get affected by the presence of others? More particularly, we used the word ‘witness’, inspired by Mary Stark House and Janet Adler from authentic movement. We also took inspiration from the book Between us, Audiences, affect and the in-between, by Joanne Bob Whalley and Lee Miller to have a broader understanding and perspective on what it is to be an audience. Few points we retained are:

-the affect defined by Spinoza as ‘the capacity to affect or be affected’

-the proxemics relations between people by Edward T. Hall: ‘intimate, personal, social and public’

Which led us to question: How is it to witness and being witnessed? How do we get affected by it?

We worked on various ways of witnessing, through touching, observing, being present and framing, but also giving feedback on what is happening or what has just happened (also present in the product). Instead of involving the audience, we used each other to be our own audience and witness. We went through the experience of being an audience and how being observed can affect us, support us, or even sometimes isolate. We experienced and discussed what it is to be witnessed, and is it possible to have no witness, not even ourselves? We worked in solos and in groups. We found out that having no witness can also be freeing.

Out of this, we defined specific parameters of the 2 experiences of witnessing ourselves and having no witness whatsoever.

It made us aware that, even when there is no audience or witness, the simple fact of thinking of how others would perceive us creates an imaginary witness. This lead me to write the choreographer’s note of the beginning, stating the presence of the audience within the creative process.

We also recognized that a part of us is craving to be seen and another part that does not want to be seen, so that in a sense we have this wish to be seen, felt, understood, received by others, as performers and as human beings, and at the same time we want to hide.

We also had the role of the camera, the external eye, or archive eye, encrypting the dance. Again when the camera is watching us, the researchers, we tend to either discard it or act out in front of it. Our attitude changes and it affects us. It is very similar to having an audience that watches and archives the performance in their memories, through filters of meaning making, judgements and interpretation.

The topic of the audience being watched or being filmed is also very sensitive, linked to ethics but also to personal preferences, boundaries and privacy. How does the audience react to being watched, observed, filmed?

2) The embodied tools we used to create material and connection between us were based on the concept of biotensegrity, and playing with tension and compression to create stable and unstable structures. Biotensegrity is the make-up of connective tissue within us (fascia, bones, ligaments, tendons…). Tensegrity is more related to the space outside ourselves. It defines inter-connection through a network of tension and compression. In a biotensegral structure, the body, as well as in tensegral structure, that can be a floating bridge for example, the tension put upon a part of the structure will affect the whole structure and balance itself out through the network of inter-connectivity. These structures can therefore be considered as harmonious as they constantly create a balance.

In the process we used our bodies as tensegral structures that we later on called ‘floating structure’. We used helixes and crescent rolls from Steve Paxton, Material for the spine as a starting point to create some structures and some material.

Linking it to the witnessing and more particularly observing, we experienced what it is to have a tensegral gaze, that later we called choreogaze. We defined some parameters of choreogaze: zoom in and zoom out, change perspective, eye contact, let yourself be affected by others, let yourself be affected by your moves, include the whole space and the audience.

Considering the performing space as a tensegral structure, we believe everyone present during the performance and all the people who participated in the process are all co-creators who keep affecting each other.

3) The fluidity of identity and role swapping.

We worked collaboratively with the performers, dramaturge/poet, musician, choreographer, filmmaker, and self-audience, thinking of our role as fluids and interchangeable.

The performers had the chance to voice their experience and opinion, write down notes and share it with others, also becoming co-creator and dramaturges.

We have not pushed this research to its limit though due to time restriction and not having the time and resources to involve the audience fully as performers for example. Or to have the performers becoming choreographers. This is something that can be developed later on though.

Post-crisis. How to carry on and narrow things down

Rehearsal 8

14/11/19. Laurie Grove st 6.

Danny, Sofia, Marc

Discussion as a group about the tutor’s feedbacks:make it more readable, allow more time for things to sink in, trim out, clarify intentions, what do I want the audience to understand and see?

Outcome:

We have 3 main things

  • Witnessing
  • Biotensegrity
  • Swapping roles

We decided to focus on witnessing.

Rehearsal:

  • Sofia led a game around witnessing only with the eyes. 10min. Witnessing and being affected by it. Findings: we tend to copy each other. Copying is a recognition. It reminds me of Janet Adler talking about authentic movement: being seen by one’s parent is an important part of the child’s growing process. It is about being recognized, it gives identity.
  • I asked the dancer to self-lead part of the rehearsal so that I would be a non-witness to their process. They set the beginning of the choreogaze:

1stwatching the audience, then internal focus (witnessing on emotions, sensations, thoughts), then look at each other (recognition), then look at the space, which leads into taking the space, spiralling into floating structure.

Findings: the orientation of the body in relationship the gaze: when the performers face the audience as they look at them, it seems more confrontational.

To bear in mind for contextualising: include CI,

Commenting and giving feedbacks, observing is also part of the C practice: Nancy stark Smiths.

Self-reflective questions about the process and about the piece being made:

Who?

We are a group of 7 creators/performers/witnesses inter-relating in our triadic roles of making, performing and receiving. From a choreological point of view, we indeed explore our triadic potential, using various modes of engaging in the process: mixing the notion of intention, impression and interpretation that are commonly and respectively attributed to the maker, performer and spectator.

The team includes a choreographer, a dramaturge/poet, a guitar player and 4 dancers.

What?

We have been investigating modes of witnessing and how witnessing affect the person being witnessed.

What do I want the audience to understand?

I want them to be aware of their impact in the performance setting and in the performance process as observers.

My research is not directly involving the audience or making them participate, but rather ask them to be the witnessing eyes of our research. We also offer them the experience of appreciating their presence by provoking our absence.

How do I achieve it?

I achieve that by exploring ways of witnessing amongst the performers, playing with the presence and absence of a viewer and how this has an impact on the person or group being observed.

The modes we used are repetitions of a same motif with variations of witnessing modes: being seen, being felt through touch, being commented on, being framed using proximity and distance, being ignored. In order to

What is a witness?

We defined witness as a viewer, a presence, a person. Witnessing involves perception and perceiving. It is connected to someone’s senses and way of apprehending the space and apprehending the world.

The senses are not only limited to hear, touch, smell, sight, taste, kinaesthetic awareness, proprioception,

In the performance witnesses acts as proprioceptors, feedback-er.

What or who is being witnessed?

The space, the architecture, the people in the space, the audience, oneself, phenomena.

We created repeatable patterns that can be experienced through the senses, phenomena. Phenomena, defined by Kant, are things that can be directly experienced or observed. It involves the senses and perception.

What is not witnessed?

In opposition to phenomena, noumena cannot be directly experienced or observed. (to be completed)

What is a self-witness?

Witnessing ourselves is self-witnessing. Through our research, we defined parameters of self- awareness, consciousness, proprioception… (to be completed)

What is the motif?

Working methods:

Exploration and embodied experimentation through improvisation, reflection and self-reflection, writing, sharing of experiences and feedbacking

Which setting do we use and where is the audience placed?

We decided to use the conventional theatrical frontal setting, having the audience as one reference point, one spatial perspective to dialogue with.

Blurb:

Phe-NoumeNow

Have you ever wondered what is a piece when the audience is not there to witness it? In which way is the audience involved in the creative process and making of the piece? In order to find out, a team of performer/makers took on the role of the audience, becoming witnessing eyes, ears and senses. They played with modes of witnessing and how they get affected by it, sometimes supporting, freeing or isolating.

They experienced and discussed what it is to be witnessed, whether it is possible to have no witness, not even ourselves. They worked in solos and in groups.

Phe-NoumeNow is a co-created research piece that questions the impact of the audience in the making and performing of the piece.

It dialogues with witnessing and affect, with presence and absence of repeatable events and with the temporality of a performance.

Notes: defined by Immanuel Kant, a phenomenon is ‘an observable fact or event’, in contrast with a noumenon, that cannot be experienced or observed directly.

 Rehearsal 9

Friday 15/11/19- Studio 9. Maya, Marc and Louise

Going deeper into proxemics, from Wikipedia:

Proxemics is the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behaviour, communication, and social interaction.

Edward T. Hall, the cultural anthropologist who coined the term in 1963, defined proxemics as “the interrelated observations and theories of humans use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture”. In his foundational work on proxemics, The Hidden Dimension, Hall emphasized the impact of proxemic behavior (the use of space) on interpersonal communication. According to Hall, the study of proxemics is valuable in evaluating not only the way people interact with others in daily life, but also “the organization of space in [their] houses and buildings, and ultimately the layout of [their] towns”. Proxemics remains a hidden component of interpersonal communication that is uncovered through observation and strongly influenced by culture.

We took it step by step, adding material and seeing how the piece is evolving from the choreogaze beginning:

Witnessing the person being witnessed. We kept various modes of observing, different for each performer: witnessing oneself, the audience, the architecture of the space, other performers. Then hearing the music.

Topography. Creating a floor pattern. Diagonal going into the distance: refers to distance and proxemics.

Circling around each other.

It feels like afterwards, once the music has started, we should have some spatial interaction. Including speed, acceleration, deceleration….

Material from the locking line: create solos and interaction.

We ended up having a structure. From solos, to line at the back with words, to line at the front without words????

Working with Maya and the music. What is her solo at the end about not being witnessed?

How about including the poem? Choreogaze.

Rehearsal 10

Friday 22/11/19 Studio 9, Laban

Louise, Danny, Sofia, Maya

Discussion again about the plan for today. There seems to be disagreement about what we keep, what we take away, and what the focus should be. Shall we keep the material? Shall we take out all the biotensegrity thing….??

Sofia: what we do is really clear. But what do you want to focus on?

I realised I didn’t properly communicate to my dancers how the theme and research has narrowed down and evolved into something more specific: We want to experience the role of the audience: what it is to witness and how this affect the ‘object’ of witnessing.

From there onwards, we were able to simplify and start only with one person being witnessed to make it clear: Danny. And we would use various modes of witnessing and see how this affects Danny:

Impro on witnessing

No witness, self-witness, change perspective (close     by), framing and proxemics, Then open the eyes, commenting, taking the attention away from Danny: come back to no-witness, then comment from the choreographer: can we all look at what Danny is doing?

Question:what does make Danny open the eyes? A comment that has been made?

I am now giving the cues for each sections, but how can we make this happen? Change of lighting

Next rehearsal: also explore what it is to isolate?

In which way are we supporting or limiting as witnesses?

Rehearsal 11

24/11/19 Laban studio 8

Maya, Danny, Louise, Sofia

Taking the same structure of the last impro with Danny being the center of attention.

Then go from 2-3 sections at the time, refining the intentions of each sections, what I am looking at, what works, make the performer aware of what is happening so they can come back to it.

  • Danny witnesses the audiencecoming in
  • Shift to inner focusno witness. Quality: fast, weight of the pelvis and falling quality. Careless, unconscious, inner impulses.
  • Change of light: shift to Self-witness. Quality: Sustain, floating water, proprioception and sensing the distance between Danny and the space around him. Linked to biotensegrity. Floating limbs. Awareness, transition.
  • 1min after change of light: performers look at Danny. Go into Change of perspective.

What we like: Museum watching. Curiosity. Awareness of others in space and create opposition: distance, if one is up, the other is down….zoom in and out. Use each other to create structure to lay onto. Important: anticipate! Make the decision before you go. Maya starts playing, it is the cue for Danny to shift between modes of no witness and self -witness.

  • Skin touching: accumulation: Sofia then Louise then Marc???

curiosity of kids wanting to touch what they see. Touch with hands body and legs. Move the centre even if only using the hands. Then add the rest of the body to give more surfaces to touch. Slightly restricting the movements. Danny opens the eyes at the end.

  • Framing-proxemics: Dynamic spatial relationship. Don’t focus on the movement. Always have the same distance between Louise-Danny and Sofia-Danny. Possibility to let Danny move away, but keep the distance constraint: Danny doesn’t have to always be in the centre. No stalking
  • Commenting. Commenting should be about appreciating, making comment, but don’t involve Danny or don’t direct him!!!

Danny’s presence is more performative. Like showing off. Opening to the audience and to the fact he is being observed.

  • Taking the attention away: focus on the audience and on interacting with each others. Integrate more senses than just seeing: hearing, smelling… Louise can keep Can you hear me playing the guitar?

Maya: play more with physical engagement. Proxemics. Change of perspective.

For skin witnessing: use tactile sounds with the guitar.

Question raised: how sometimes witnessing can be opening, freeing, or limiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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