The Impetus

Project #4

The Impetus was developed with eight emerging dancers who auditioned to participate in the work.  Half of the dancers had technical training from a young age and were competitive dancers, and the other half gained a love for dance in their adult life.  It was interesting to observe as the tasks were investigated how the individuals without formal training explored movement organically, while those disciplined in the codified vocabulary of dance continued to return to their structured language.  This practice leveled out a sense of hierarchy, focusing on improvisational tasks to lead the body into motion.  All dancers expressive choice-making transpired into the final piece.  The level of training was irrelevant in the process of uncovering the performative.    

Open-minded strangers share in the method of mixing mediums for the purpose of creating from an unpredictable blank slate.



The flow painting and flip cup technique were explained to the participant.  Dancers were given white costumes and masks to wear and told not to be concerned if any paint ended up on them.  The idea of the white costume was that they were a canvas as well...they were a blank canvas that was going to develop a piece of artwork, not only on these 18X24 inch canvas but on and through their dancing body.  There was a sense of uncertainty with what would become of the project, this canvas, this body in costume, and ultimately the dance.  Having faith in the process through making and doing will allow art to evolve through a shared agency in all aspects of materiality.

Paint held in hands with anticipation, waiting for the signal to “go!”  Venturing into unexplored territory...there are no mistakes, only “happy accidents” as Bob Ross would say.  You can not control what will happen become of the painting or how it will turn out.  Gravity and the velocity of the paint medium will decide what the final piece will look like.  It is out of your control.  Your paint may splash on your neighbor’s canvas, just as your energy and movement choice influence others when you dance with them, so will the painting be reflective of. 

After the dancers made individual paintings and cleaned their hands on the costumes,  I placed the final four canvases in the middle of the completed paintings.  I explained that they would create these paintings all together.  The reason I wanted them to place their paintings on the peripheral of the canvases they were focusing on was because again, I wanted the act of painting and the material itself to be a shared experience.  As you can tell by the images above, the dancers may have tried to be careful to pour the paint on the blank canvas, but it was inevitably going to be splattered on the others.  From the beginning of the process, I wanted the dancers to have acceptance of the unpredictable possibilities of artistic practice through its process.  

Once all the paint was down, I asked the dancers to tilt the canvas with a partner to develop the work.  We discussed how when you work with others in a group, we need to support one another, we need to tell them what we need from each another. 

 The dancers needed to express to one another when to turn the canvas, which way to turn it and when to stop.  They started to bring attention to what they liked about the painting, why they liked it, and when they felt it was complete.  

December 2021

Let the Movement Tasks Begin

I wanted to get the dancers moving, while the act of painting was fresh in their memory and give them an idea of what future movement tasks would look like.  I had the dancers clean themselves up so they would not transfer any wet paint onto the Marley floor on the stage.  I asked them to think back to before they put paint on the canvas and the feeling of uncertainty.  When they were asking themselves what they were doing with this cup of paint and questioning how their painting was going to turn out.  This is a full-body task, moving from the inside out.



The task was to move from a space of uncertainty from the inside out.  These dancers were certainly ready to move…there was no uncertainty about it.  As it was their first task, I think they were ready to show me their movement abilities.  No one slowly made their way into developing their movement, each body fed off the energy of the one next to it and they were improvising. 


Full body task.  How did the paint travel on the canvas?  I wanted the dancers to explore movement with their bodies as if they were the paint traveling on the canvas.  The dance floor becomes this space for them.  I noticed a few dancers grasping at technique and known choreography when developing movement material with their bodies.  I expressed to them I wanted them to flesh out codified techniques in order to find new movements held within the body’s capacity. 


Paint Thrown on Canvas

Embody the action of working together and throwing the paint on the canvas.  I asked the dancers to slow down because I felt as if they had been just dancing for the act of dancing...not fully embodying the act of doing...they still moved pretty fast here.


Paint on Self

Embodying the act of painting the body as a canvas, the dancers had some unique actions in this process.  For this task, they slowed down quite a bit.  Maybe it was the act of touch, touching the body, the sensation of feeling pressure of the body from itself.

Share Movement and Connect


Evolve the Movement

I quickly put the dancers into pairs and asked them to merge the movement they just developed.  It didn’t matter if one person’s moves led into the next person’s or if one person’s phrase work led to the next, but it needed to flow as if it was cohesive. 


Gel Movement Material Together

Pairing up what I perceived to be two very different movers, I hoped to see them strengthen this new movement vocabulary with one another by connecting their improvisational phrasing. I wanted the language of movement to shape their way of thinking and for them to begin to use their actual voice in crafting the work.

Body Parts Led by Chance

For this task, I brought the tongue depressors back out for a game of chance.  I ran around the stage with a mason jar and had everyone pull a stick (tongue depressor) out of it with a color painted at the bottom of it.  Then I ran around with another jar of sticks with a body part written on the bottom of them.  The task was for each individual to map their painting, depending on the color they choose, and guide the movement with the focus of a specific body part.  Everyone’s paintings were dry today and had them prop them up on chairs and music stands.  I also asked each participant to pull out their phones to record themselves so they could individually watch their improvisational response in capturing the movement material generated.  After the first movement exploration, I had the dancers set the 30-second phrase they just produced using their camera on their phones to recall the movement.  I then ran around with the jar again and this time there were different dynamics written on the bottom of each stick.  Now the dancers needed to evolve the movement…record, improvise and set the phrase again.   


First Exploration


Evolved Set Phrase

Compose Phrases

The amount of movement material that was developed with eight dancers was so much more than what may be formed with one or two.  We needed to start to piece together the puzzle and see how we could collectively build a dance with transitions in the space.  I only had this group for a certain period of time, and there was a performance we had to work towards, as well as the filming of a screendance.  I just started to assess how the bodies would visually manipulate the stage and one by one we started to add material generated from the dancer's paintings to create a dance.



Time was of the essence.  Even if the dance was not completely clean, and the dancers didn’t feel completely confident with the choreography, I needed to film the dance to put together the dance film.  They also needed to start to live in the movement of the entire dance in order to embody every person’s movement contributed to the work.  All in all, it was successful, both the film and performance. 

End of Project #4...see PerformancesJanuary 2022