As I walk into the space, I’m reminded of the words by the performers in Tino Sehgal’s This Situation (2007). “Welcome to this situation!” they intoned in unison. It is a situation indeed, and I really have no idea where to start or how to start. How did I get myself into this? Julia?!
I’m acutely aware how out of practice I am in making. Of course, I consider the act of dancing a form of making as well, but this for me happens within the context of someone else’s practice. I have not had to express or explore my own choreographic concerns for a long time, and for clarity, I have consciously put much of this enquiry on hold whilst I work with Dance Exchange. Working in the studio feels a little like trying to coerce an animal out of its cage.
Move. Just start.
I decided prior to coming that I would commit to an hour of improvising every day. The decision to improvise was made precisely because of my aversion to it. I don’t mind playing around in the studio, but improvising is a little like the practice of meditation; I’m not disciplined enough to persist when my mind begins to wonder.
I flit about from one somewhat familiar movement to another, overthinking what I am doing, and eventually get bored. This is especially the case when I’m the only one in the space. Still, this seemed like a useful place to start; a way of uncovering my movement habits and maybe finding glimpses of something interesting.
I have filmed all of these improvisations, and will attempt to break them down into different themes that I can identify. I am not sure yet what criteria I will employ to do so, but I’m hoping I’ll recognise them when I see them. These will then form the building blocks for solo material that I will explore next week.
The remainder of the time in the studio is spent on a choreographic process similar to Trisha Brown’s Locus (1975). Where Brown assigned the alphabet to points in space, I have assigned numbers to the sides and corners of the room. This allows me to create dances from any string of numbers. I have chosen to use the numbers that make up specific GPS locations of places I frequent whilst here in Christchurch.
Perhaps it’s an attempt to ground this material (and myself?) in a specific place. This place. The process feels paradoxically clinical and intimate at the same time.