In the second year of Dance undergraduate study at Trinity Laban, there is a required component called “Resourcing Performance”. Basically, this introduces the students to the role and experiences of the performer through creative practical workshops, studio-based exploration and discussion. We focus on the interaction and clarity of audience/performer, on varied modes of performance (including site-specific performance), and also on issues such as proximity, etc.
On Monday (20 October), we took the whole group to the Old Royal Naval College for an improvised workshop within and around the Music Faculty. We gave the students only three ‘bodily poses’; seemingly simple, but very precise in how they were embodied. One was low (a plank), one mid-level (crouch) and one high (standing with the right arm in a wave gesture…weight transferred onto the right leg). They could play with how long to stay ‘in them’, as well as with how they transferred in and out of them. They could also shift the plane on which they were performed. In between they could also walk or run to various sites.
The duration was one hour, and they had specific locations in and around the Music Faculty to engage with during the improvisation. They were instructed not to converse with the public, but for their gaze to be as open and receptive as possible. The challenge was to stay within the simple (but specific) context of the embodiment, while coping with the unpredictability of the public and other performers.
When we came back to the Laban building after the event, there was some great discourse around a number of issues:
- The ‘conflict’ of being observed, and the feeling of being treated ‘as an object’ instead of as a person/performer.
- The interactions between the dancer’s body and the landscape of the site.
- The interactions with the public.
- The difference between the inside space of the Music Faculty building and the outdoor open spaces.
- The difficulty and yet pleasure of staying ‘in the moment’.
- Not predicting what one should do, but reacting quite intuitively within the parameters.
- Pushing the still moments into longer durations and listening to the activity that occurred around them.
I spoke to a spectator who commented that the performance seemed to be about ‘intention’. Others spoke about how even though simple, it revealed a sense of drama, almost political in nature.
Overall, a successful experience!
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Technique