Creating Where People Are
Connecting through art – dance, theatre, visual arts, music – was traditionally done by bringing audience to artists-performers, gathering them in a theater, a gallery.
Through all sorts of new channels, today, this connection has become multi-ways
Creating and exploring my art in site-specific, on-screen and workshop settings is an opportunity to connect with people where they are. An opportunity to widen our range of connection.
Site-Specific: Connecting Physically
Creating, performing and teaching in outdoor site-specific conditions build a sensing connection:
- from a variety of textures and weathers
- to different relations with/ reactions from passersby.
After years of performing and creating indoor, this physical connection is renewing, refreshing, reenergizing my Landscape Under Skin Theater.
By creating in different outdoor settings we are engaging differently with people and our environment.
Site-specific creation (rehearsal and performance) allows a wider array of encounter qualities with people and the world.
Nested: Lean & Rise gave us – in time of COVID-19 – space, connection with each others, creative movements and nature’s beauty.
By being performed in a sculpture by Troy Moth (“Standing Figure #10”) in downtown Nanaimo, Lifeline brought awareness not only to the addiction problematic but the physical space and the sculpture itself. It created a new and enhanced connection between people and their surrounding (including myself).
It allowed a new point of view.
New perspective that is also part of Troy Moth’s creative process:
- using discarded, unwanted roots from the wood industry
- and bringing them back to life
- transforming them into walking, sheltering creatures.
For me, this transformed root represents the image of discarded lives I am relating to in Lifeline – drug addicts, mentally ill and homeless people – who can become “alive” again, connect again from a changed point of view.
On Film: Connecting Through the Distance
The idea of creating a short film simultaneously with the live performance Lifeline came from two things:
I had a desire to connect with people living in the street who would not be in a state to witness the live performance. The film would (and still is) meeting them where they are, when ready (through local groups).
Also, through filming in different locations – downtown back alley, gravel parking lot, sidewalk, field – I had the opportunity to embody a certain experience of living in the street.
For example when we were filming in a back alley:
- it started raining hard,
- owners of shops came to ask what we were doing,
- a concerned security guard pulled up to ask the same,
- a group of homeless men hung out for a while sheltered by trees beside, observing and commenting…
All these different encounters built up layers of memories resurfacing when I performed live as well as transpired in the film.
(Lifeline short film: Genevieve Johnson with support from Holly Bright)
Because of my hip injury, I have to change the way I train, create and perform.
What is the most frustrating about degenerative osteoarthritis is the reduction of my range of movement. Over the past year, it has been narrowing everyday.
This narrowing of movement range feels like my whole world is narrowing with it. Instead of a wide panoramic view I am now accessing just a narrow strip of the world.
Creating dance on film is giving me the opportunity of editing these strips of world together and rebuilding a wider world view for my self.
A changed view but wider.
It supports my creative process: fragmenting body and space in order to reconstruct them in new ways – different, unusual, imperfect.
The fragmenting camera is becoming my investigating tool to unearth the mysteries of the body, of my transforming body.
I made a micro-short film reflecting on human relationship to nature and how we influence each other. It has been selected by Dance Victoria for their 10 days of celebration of dance (January 15 to 25, 2021). A different short film will be presented each day.
Here is a trailer of my film Impermanence.
Workshops: Sharing Connection
Landscape Under Skin Theatre, Poetry in Motion and Butoh workshops (live or in the form of this blog and online exercises) are about sharing through connection.
We share our embodied knowledge with each other and the space through creative movement exploration. You, me, the space… we receive and give throughout the process. This experience allows change, transformation and renewal.
Through connecting together and with the world, we create empathy. We open our mind, our body, our heart to differences through the “becoming-other”.
Inspired by the first blog, Renee Poisson explored the Tree Bizoku Exercise and send me videos of it.
I was so inspired by your blog I went out into the rain storm in my rain gear and did some tree work! (…) I had been thinking that the winter was no time for outside work and then reading your blog about working with whatever is there made me go out into the storm and see what I could do. Moving in my raingear is very clumsy and awkward. I decided that was all part of it.
Yes: it is all part of it. Clumsy, awkward, stormy… are all states and qualities worth exploring. The different is transforming our perspective, opening our mind, creating new connections in order to unearth empathy and change.
(Video and sound garden: Renee Poisson)
Connection Towards Empathy
When working with the transformation principle from the becoming-other, you are putting yourself in the shoes of others: other people, other beings, other elements…
You allow yourself to receive and give from another point of view, a new perspective that makes you embrace the differences encountered.
Kimono Walk: Exercise to Bring Forth Empathy and Care for Others
(I use a kimono but you can use a long coat or robe with an opening in the front.)
Thread one of your arms across both sleeves from one wrist opening to the other. With your other arm take the bottom of the fabric. You are now transporting an unconscious person: a loved one, passed away or alive, known or unknown, invented or real… someone you care about…
Sections of the walk sequence:
- transport kimono-person with care
- the person wakes up: stands on ground beside you
- dance together as two entities
- put half the kimono on: be half yourself half the other
- put kimono fully on: become the other
- take off kimono: become yourself again filled with your experience as the other
As the walk evolves, build a relationship with the person in your arms:
- do you hear sounds coming from the person
- are you attracted and/or pushed away from them
- do you embrace each other, fight with each other, create tension between you two
- is the person becoming a burden, a good or sad memory, a joyful encounter…
- how can the other take over yourself
- how can you become the other, dance the dichotomy between being yourself and the other…
(Here is a video example. Every body has a different kimono walk. Mine is slow. Yours might be fast and percussive… Find your own.)
(Video: Genevieve Johnson)
And it starts with a part of “self-empathy”, where you can accept you being you, quieting your inner critic: widening your connections within and without with a caring heart.
being my own
tapping the unknown
with my own differences
do without fear
be without fear
assuming my uniqueness
consciously embracing my own
as a springboard to discovery
Enjoy a week of dance on film January 15 to 25, 2021: Watch short screendance movies at www.dancevictoria.com and let me know about your experience.