Monday, 15 July 2019

Extending Improvisation - a 30 year exploration and Creativity is Choices

Extending improvisation - a 30 year exploration!

Like many people in the inclusive dance world I can trace my roots to meeting and working with Wolfgang Stange*. The power of an image, and then the impromptu dramatic death solo, done by a shy, normally reluctant man with downs syndrome which was, and still is, one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen, and it was in the midst of a creative dance session.
Recently David Oddie**came to some community sessions at Liskeard  and when we were all watching wonderful spontaneous improvisations said, "You see the best work/performances in workshops."

How to enable and hold that spontaneity in performance?

In the end we also found it ( Embodied Space open Improv performance style) gave the power and creative control back to the dancers! 
What joy really dance artists.

In the approach we use everyone works to their best, it is collaborative and supportive and over the years (for some us that's a long time now), it brings familiarity in how each other moves, along with trust and confidence, which also gives the permission and ability to challenge and push each other.

This approach to performance also works with the performers who are available  on the day, so that those who cant attend due to health issues or other factors don't feel they are letting the group/performance down. This is an important aspect of real inclusion factoring in the many different variables people with support needs struggle with

Lois taylors' response to Midsummer Dance performance
"I had so many lovely comments about their work from joy at their energy and playfulness, respect for the grace and interpretation of the music to curiosity and awe about the fact it was improvised and not set.

The first set of guidelines:
Structure Freedom and Intent (and Exit - if you don’t know what you are doing get off the stage!)
Then: working on your own, working with others , or be still.- and again if you don’t know what you are doing exit

To get to this place we have various simple tasks/suggestions ie.crossing the room, shape move shape and
Workshops also have Structure Stimulus and Suggestion

Filming Embodied Spaces at Tremenheere Art Gallery, photo Zoe Wilton

Creativity is Choices

What colour to put next to which?
What shall I do now?
Creatives are often people whose brain works at high speed, and creativity endless choices, can channel and harness that brain.
In the moment decision making, which is different to planning.
Assessing the situation.
Being aware of others ( whose in the room ).
Keeping to your own decision, when it feels right.
Adapting to others needs.
Finding joy in the company of others, finding humour, pathos, connectedness.
Freedom to choose-

I stop there, we have freedom to choose not always about our situation/s but how we feel and respond -

We need support all of us - we are communal beings - our needs vary through our life - form infant to old age and in between. 

We need to be taken out of ourselves, reminded of the ‘bigger picture’, inspired by beauty and courage, art and life -

We need spaces that feel ‘safe’ and nourishing -

We need to be needed?

Arts can provide a lot,
we discussed our 3 or 4 lines for Open Improv they are:

They are:
Work on your own
Work with others
Be still if …
……in doubt exit

………………for Performance remember the ‘bigger picture’ 
and where are you in it - adding to it, not blocking or waffling or in the way

Underpinning this is…
                Where you are? Whats happening? For how long?
                You can respond, do what you like 
and Intent
                As long as it has intention ( again don’t waffle)

And under this workshop ‘rules’
Structure - where are we, what are we doing
Stimulus - music, exercises etc
Suggestions - how to relate to stimulus or how to respond in other ways /follow your own ideas in it all.

Thats as far as I’ve got.

Around that … Why do we like to dance together?
Ecstasy - dance can touch on ecstatic experience
Enthusiasm - someone once said to me, “Enthusiasm was to ‘be in joy’”
Encouragement - we try to create encouraging spaces/environments/relationships, it’s mutual, symbiotic, at it’s best.

Another question?
People often mention “beautiful and inspiring” when giving us feedback, and we don’t always have high returning audience, is ‘beauty and inspiration’ a challenge to us? And not comforting, entertaining, distracting? Does it call a response from us?
People recently say how much the dancers seem to be enjoying it, a lot of art comes from pain ( and I assure you many ‘in the room’ have their fair share of  pain) but isn’t joy contagious as the Prophet says…. ‘Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.’ ***
Last thing is people often say they are moved to tears, “ That’s good“ I say. 
I want theatre to move me - I want life to have depth and meaning, joy and sharing…
And sometimes in the right ways the Arts can give us doorways to those experiences.

David Oddie**  
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran***
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”