MAP Research Exchange Christchurch Artist #16 – David Huggins – Blog ii

This week, I am rehearsing and choreographing more GPS dances that I described in my previous blog, from locations further afield. Although not a primary objective, I have found that the task is conducive to generating a large amount of raw material in a short space of time. I have become interested in how I make decisions when faced with different movement options.

The numbers that I use in the GPS task dictate a direction, but not ‘what’ (a limb? Head? pelvis?) or ‘how’. Sometimes I choose one movement over another simply because it feels good, or feels right. These are the moments when I have to trust that I have gained an accumulated physical knowledge that cannot always be articulated in words; perhaps this is an apt definition for dance?

I have largely abandoned the idea of analysing footage of my improvisations from last week. I was intending to extract different parts from the footage to create a solo. I may still have some use for them, but I have realised that it was the very doing of them that was useful in this process, not the outcomes I had planned for them.
The time spent improvising will have influenced my decision-making in the GPS process, and I think that may be enough. (If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m also averse to trawling through 5hrs+ of footage of myself in the studio..)
Dancers often get asked how they remember all the choreography. I think each dancer would have a different answer to this. I know that I rely heavily on external spacial relationships to orient myself in a space. In the GPS tasks, the number sequences for locations become a text, like a musical score, that act as triggers for my kinaesthetic memory.
Conversely, when I dance these, I am able to recite large sequences of numbers at the same time. It is an interesting exercise in memory. As I continue to rehearse the material, this mutual relationship will begin to fade and I will likely be able to perform or recite these two things independently. I don’t necessarily want this to happen. I want to try and retain the task within the dance, because this allows for a different, more unfamiliar relationship to the material and creates a particular performance quality.
In my video blog I mentioned the idea that our bodies retain traces of every movement that we have ever done. This is probably the same with places we have been at different points in our lives. I think in this project I am making some sort of connection between choreography and ‘place’, or choreographies being distinct places.