Here I am, back in the studio post-tour, and enjoying myself by getting stuck into the relaxed solo raving again 🙂 This is the third recording of a series of improvisations leading to my thesis performance in mid July. I think this one confuses the senses somewhat, which I enjoy, so I put some silly effects on it to make it a bit more confusing.
I started off thinking about doing something ‘subtle’ for my thesis performance, since I’m a contemporary dancer and this is ‘dance as high art dahling’ (bleurgh, excuse me while I puke at my own bullshit). Whilst contemporary dance is quite clearly niche, in usual black sheep fashion I’ve found myself taking up residence in an even smaller niche.
This is, nevertheless, a very lovely little niche full of release-based dance, somatic practices and improvisation. It’s where my heart lies, alongside a growing appreciation/love for African dance (which will probably be the next thing I explore after this project). All these practices reflect my most pleasant philosophies on life and wholeness, and how it can be if only we’ll all play nicely and nobody gets hurt…
HOWEVER, nothing is perfect and everything in dancing isn’t ‘nice’, just as choreographer Miguel Pereira said to me a while ago. Relaxed solo raves is a project about wholeness and integration. I’m making a bid to integrate some of the many sides of my own current self through ther medium of dance, and I can only begin from the starting point, which is now!
I may have turned into part contemporary dancing poetry-loving prancer, but I’ll always be half salt of the earth Yorkshire lass, hailing from a reasonably rough Northern town full of pebble dash and pubs! I’m one part bit of a princess, one part pikey. My head loves knocking about in the clouds and being a stray, unpredictable thing at times (it’s taken some taming but ultimately I’ve learned that there is always a psychological silver lining), butI do my best to keep my feet in the earth where possible.
I wish I was more disciplined, but I still love staying up all night sometimes and being a responsibly irresponsible rebel. I’ve stopped smoking countless times, but I always seem to start again. I am certainly imperfect, and I would now like to share my imperfectness with others 🙂
What I’m saying is this: sod the subtlety just a tiny bit. In homage to this, it now seems that I’m leaning towards getting some projections, crappy disco lights/strobe and a bit of haze involved in the performance. I’m thinking, start off in somatic-sensory world but then transform the space so it becomes progressively more rave-like as the piece goes on…!
It’s an ongoing balancing act between my love for the experimental, yet also wanting to do things that imperfect people like me can connect to. Warmth is important, and I’m now slowly learning to enjoy silence, empty spaces and down time, but the urge for ‘freedom’, adventure and a not-so-healthy bit of chaos is in ongoing dialogue with my more contented, calm, harmonious self…
Lately, I’ve watched a few good videos of kiddywinkles dancing (everyone loves ’em, it’s wholesome, feel good, and better than kittens!!). Watching these lovely little movers brought it home to me – it’s such a natural thing to want to move your body and explore it’s possibilities, and yet that playful instinct is slowly socialized out of us.
I’ve just spent five years training to be ‘a dancer’, but I agree with Steve Paxton when he says that getting into dance was more about ‘finishing my movement development’ than the ambition to become anything. (PS. Have a gander at my response to Steve’s ‘about reasons to be a mover’ here.)
This little man, whose video went viral on facebook, was a particular inspiration – so much so that I did my own version. It’s the first thing that happens in the video at the top of this post 🙂 but you can check out his original funky maneuvers here…
Relaxed solo raves are quite clearly about the relationship between music and movement. Watching the band Goat perform an amazing gig of wacky world fusion music (despite being from bloody Sweden!!), swathed in festival colours and an assortment of patterned garms from around the globe, I sat there and wondered if contemporary dance could also be that much fun?!
Can I do a solo thing that doesn’t take itself too seriously? Isn’t it ace when watching dance makes you want to spontaneously dive out of your seat and do the wild dance of abandon yourself?!
Asking what comes first, the movement or the music, is like talking about the chicken and the egg. Movement is life, but music and movement do go hand in hand. It’s usually only the trained dancer who has been taught to work against the music, or to discover their own internal rhythms and impulses without pre-set steps or even sounds to work with.
For most, music is the access point used to spontaneously enter the flow of the dance state! It’s unfortunate but understandable, given the society we live in, that a large proportion of adults also require the presence of several stiff drinks, simply in order to get uninhibited enough to shake their ass a bit. I was also that person before I started training in dance…
So now I’m wondering about the dances that go un-danced as a result of this, and also the secret dances and social dances, from dad dances at weddings to more rave-like scenarios… to how you might bust a few moves in your kitchen (if you have a big enough kitchen) while cooking and after caning a bottle of wine meant for the stew and comandeering the wooden spoon as a microphone.
I want to channel some of that feeling (see Johanna Channels Aretha), so that even though I’m dancing on my own there might be some sense of feel good sharing. I want to half act the clown and be over dramatic in the way that six year olds dance at a party. I am hugely inspired by the kid in the film Little Miss Sunshine, and her heart-warming Superfreak dance at the beauty pageant.
Due in part to my background, and due also to my preoccupation with empathy, connection and a belief that life is relationship, I am all for performance as communication. I’m not necessarily preoccupied with providing some kind of finite, concrete performance, but with sharing an experience or creating an atmosphere.
I guess that’s why I want to keep it a little loose and improvised, so that I’m free to be responsive in the moment, and because I think that the atmosphere improvisation can create has something vulnerable, open and on the edge, in a way that set material rarely achieves.
Although I’m choosing to practice being physically alone in my solo raves (are we ever really alone? see my original post on solo rave numero uno), I’m also hoping that the audience will be with me in spirit – but somehow without having to get them involved in engineered audience participation. Maybe all this has something to do with making myself vulnerable?
Performance poet Candy Royalle says vulnerability is the new cool, Kate Tempest is preaching radical empathy, and it’s also something I can see in the work of Theo Clinkard (man of the moment for the contemporary dancers-in-training).
I love weight, the feeling of falling, the experience of flow and engaging with space and time. I have learnt the value of following sensation, embodied knowledge, and that there’s a wisdom in the body that my conscious brain is always one step behind. I love all those contemporary dance things and learning about them is opening up possibilities that I never knew existed.
Ultimately though, humanity interests me just as much. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it’s no good rolling around on the floor on your own (or only with other contemporary dancers) all the time...
“As a creator, my artistic ethos is this: I create in order to connect. I seek to connect in order to remove the idea of “otherness” that divides us. By removing the division of “us” and “them”, I try to highlight those things that actually bind us. Here is where our connection is found”. (Candy Royalle)
Cheers for reading/watching 🙂