Starting Point feels like a pretty apt title; it calls to mind the hesitancy over the first mark in a new sketchbook. Perhaps i should explain, bar sporadic Ballet classes aged 12, dance and I haven’t had much to do with one another.
(As a part of the 60|40 Starting Point Series, I’ve been asked to respond to Siobhan Davies Studios (the building of Siobhan Davies Dance).)
60 40 Starting Point Series exhibition now up and running.
Exhibition runs untill 23rd September.
To hear clips of the artists talking about their work (me included) follow the link below:
I had a somewhat complicated notion of using carefully placed mirrors, periscope style, to frame these everyday dances, but concluded that film would give me more possibilities and scope when it came to capturing these movements: I could use the observational movements and edit them as a way of choreographing. This decision felt right. It felt truer to my intention, but perhaps also because editing a film is hands on and thus a process more akin to my approach to making.
I also wanted to appropriate the sounds of the office. Making the most out of these instruments would help to frame these everyday movements as dance, and hopefully draw attention to the stage that is the office.
More mulling and a few weeks later, Iris and I came back together again. I had now moved to London for the last month of the project (I live in Germany, so it’s a bit of a distance to commute). So with one month to go, it certainly felt like it was time to take some decisive action. Having had some time to reflect, I realised that although the office space, with its inherent stage like qualities, is ripe for a performance, it didn’t sit right with what I was trying to achieve. It felt odd to be choreographing a dance for this space, when my observations had led me to realise that there was, already, a daily dance of the everyday in this office: I needed to show this.
The next few meetings between Iris and I were essentially trying out the office movements to get a feel for what was working. I hadn’t really worked out what the ‘purpose’ was yet, but I hoped that through playing we would get an idea of the direction the work should take.
We quickly realised that any movement happening whilst sat down at a desk would be easily missed by the audience.
This meant that we could choose to ham it up or that the dance would have to include more large gestures; standing up and moving around the office space; gestures which didn’t necessarily define or signify the office specifically. Neither of these options felt right. Were these the only ways to ensure that people were aware that this was actually a dance?
These conversations with Iris opened my eyes to the fact that, even within the constraints of an office based performance, there were seemingly endless ways of taking the project forward.
Would the performance be with or without sound? Would it just be a one-person performance? How would the performance take shape? What would the narrative be?
We exchanged a fair few emails over the following weeks, and what became evident was that there needed to be a purpose for the movements in the performance, whether they be real or constructed: I had blithely thought we could just reconstruct the movements into a dance: Iris, knowingly, needed a reason or rational- It needed to feel right.
This was, a confusing aspect for me. As an uneducated observer, I hadn’t until this point thought about how dances come into being. I had seen dance as something which was/is essentially judged on its ability to entertain: I had never given much thought to a dance’s methodologies, thinking and concept. I am aware this must sound vastly philistine-esque, but feel it necessary to confess. I really should know better; I am often plagued by the knowledge that most people see jewellery as a purely ‘decorative’ ‘craft’.