Project #8

This was my first international project, including dancers from four different countries.  One dancer moved to England from Hong Kong four months before working together.  Another dancer flew to Liverpool from Germany to participate in the work.  One dancer was local, and the final dancer had transplanted from Italy for school.  It was exhilarating to have the opportunity to work with dancers in another country, and grateful they wanted to participate in the study.  The dancers were all a part of a Dance Collective and had varying levels of education and experience.  These levels ranged from studio experience to a Ph.D. in the Arts.  Our time together was limited. We had one day for painting, the next for tasks and materializing the movement, one day to rehearse, and one to perform and film.  This was the shortest time I ever had with a group, but I knew I had to trust the process.          

My Movie

Painting Challenges

The day we painted, it was extremely hot.  The UK was going through a heat wave, and our building did not have controlled air.  The paint was not behaving as I hoped it would, and I felt it was a combination of the heat and the products I used to mix the paint with the medium.  As I was in another country, I used the acrylic paint and glue they had at the art supply store.   The paintings, however, did dry very quickly, but the texture of the painting on canvas was not as I hoped it would be. Two of the dancer wiped their canvas clean and started over.  The dancers loved how their paintings turned out, and I loved that they were all unique!   


I explained to the dancers that the methods we would use to materialize movement would come from their paintings.  From my research, I learned of dancers translating other people's artwork but not the dancer creating the visual art and then using it to develop choreography.  I would not feed them choreography; their painting would be the impetus to stimulate movement in their body.

Tasks of Chance

The tasks included chance methods that would assist in finding the dancer's starting point to map their painting.  Depending on what color stick they chose determined what trail they would begin to follow.  The next stick they picked had a word written on it, deciding what body part would initiate the movement.  The dancers did this once through and set a phrase. 


While working through the tasks, I noticed two dancers jump in without hesitation.  They took to the prompts and started moving, not questioning their physical response.  Another dancer closed their eyes the entire time.  I asked them if they were truly reading their painting or responding to the image in their mind's eye.  One dancer looked at their painting for a long time, unsure how to move without guidance.  Once everyone was engaged in the process, the improvised composition of co-gesturing possibilities emerged. 

Task 2

We repeated the process of task 1 and created new material.  Then I gave the dancers an additional chance stick to evolve their phrases and add a dynamic to their material.  As the dancers design diffractive articulations of aesthetic negotiations, I sense the theory of agential realism through transforming rearrangements of matter as bodies in space become an intra-active phenomenon.  It is not the will of the dancer but the inseparability between human and non-human materials shifting movement through this open-ended practice. 

MDI 1st

First Day, Final Rehersal

I only had one day left to work with the participants to compose the dance with the material they produced before this project ended.  We worked together to string the phrases together one by one.  I asked one person to lead, and then, as a group, we decided whose movement would feed into the next.  One by one, we pieced together a dance.  I played various music with different timing to see if the dancer would speed up the pace or slow down, but they did not.  They were aware of one another in the space and worked together as their movement led the way.

Task 3

Image Translation 

I asked the dancers to find three small images within their paintings that stood out to them.  I then asked the dancers to translate these images into physical shapes within their bodies.  I wanted to add this structure to the beginning of the choreography.  I had the dancers look at their paintings as if the canvas was the dance floor and place themselves on the floor according to where that image was in their painting.  This would be how the dance would start and then move throughout space as the paint traveled to where the next image on the canvas for them to translate. The dancers did this until their final image, where they happened to end up in a straight line to begin the dance.  The photos below are of the gestures developed by the participants translating the images onto their bodies.

Final Composition

In creating the final composition with the dancers, I examined their paintings, movement choices, and the images within the painting they translated into their embodied response.  The collaborative interaction that emerged from the improvised study affected unpredictable organized phrase work.  As someone from the outside looking in, I wanted to invite the dancers as co-collaborators while providing aesthetic orientations.  Letting things flow, enabling a creative happening across content and a processual moving between threads of expression, modes of experimentation were still taking place.  Each participant's experience within the practice supported creative energy in the making.  Including the paintings in this creative journey, they were all capsuled into this final composition. 

November 2022