Over the past two weeks I have been part of a wonderful choreographic lab with an incredible dancer, choreographer and all round top human being Brianna Kell, who was looking for 5 dancers to be part of her experimentation. The choreographic lab was situated in Shopfront Theatre for Young People and was organised through a NSW dance organisation called DirtyFeet.
Kell’s experimentation centres around the concept of resonance, physically and aurally. The process of finding that resonance was organised in practice through various improvisational tasks and sequences. Resonance can appear in many shapes and forms and consequently we had hours upon hours of awesome material that could be archived for Kell’s experimentation. I was amongst 4-6 other dancers during that time and we were given a little window into a day in the life of Brianna Kell. If I was to describe all of the tasks you would be here for days and this blog would turn into a thesis, which I could gladly do in the spirit of reminiscing, instead I’ll pluck out a few which really connected with me and I’ll try and explain my experiences of them in good old dot point format.
- Rag doll – one person would stand, eyes closed, ready to be manipulated around the space by the rest of the group. In this time the dancer in the centre would relax and be pulled, curled, lifted and dragged, limb by limb, in a nurturing and safe physicality. Being in this circle where unknown limbs moved your elbow, head, hips and legs, I felt like a soup being stirred or churned and it’s a really nice way to warm up.
- Forehead discovery – in pairs we would take turns to guide a partner across the space just using our hand against their forehead. To read the small instructions given by a hand isn’t as easy as it sounds – and the concentration/submission to the hand became something very meditative both viewing it and participating in it. The pair would then separate and the receiver of the instructions would then dance from the memory of the hand.
- Monster organism – involved contact improvisation in a tight, huddled group, allowing for little gaps to be present. The five of us were to slowly seek new surfaces where we could put weight on and fold into or be carried across from one location to another. Being in this movement was very heavy and warming – I found that 5 bodies melded into one and my limbs were taken across unexpected territory amongst the group. There was an unknown whereabouts of each other despite the constant contact. The product looked quite menacing itself as limbs and faces intertwined, twisting and forming unknown shapes. What I think made it really haunting was the soundtrack we moved to which was used from the film Sicario. If you’re like me and have ever seen Sicario you’ll remember walking away from that film in trauma. I’m a firm believer that music will heighten or minimise the drama of any visual stimuli, and in this case it really brought images of the alien, destruction, poverty and primitive to the movement. In saying that, this was possibly one of my favourite movements both spectating it and experiencing it.
- Wash journey – was a series of movements that rippled, dragged, rolled and peeled across the floor and back. Each movement was carried out in an order yet was still spontaneous in its structuring as we weren’t placed in positions each time. In this sequence Kell ideally sees 80 people carrying out this movement along a marbled room. Which I would LOVE to see and be mesmerised by.
- Sydney on acid – name of the accompanying song but apt to our movement as Kell guided us to let a simple movement infect our bodies through repetition and have it grow larger and less controlled into something much more wild. We made 3 of these movements and Kell gave us 5 of hers to remember and we moved through at random. Whenever executing this I was surprised where a movement would take me because not everything was mapped out precisely and the exploration into bigger/faster movement was always really satisfying.
- The hear and say dichotomy – oh my this was hilarious. Using headphones, we were to listen to a recording of someone reading out text, quite quickly, and our task was to say what the recording was saying – at the same time. Being too fast to interpret what was being said, I found that I just amalgamated words into ahhhhsaomthingwaypeoplegoingsrilankanhappeningsplacesforgoodfoodsirpluck. I couldn’t help but laugh while trying to enunciate and failing. Obviously. Try it.
- Foil fortress – in one afternoon with two microphones, we were each given a roll of tin foil and told to “go, do, make.” This is where 5 year old Alex appeared from the depths of pretend adult maturity and took full control over my body. All of a sudden I was making robo superman costumes and crumpling foil over the microphones while making verbal noises that replicated the sound of the foil. The 5 of us made a fantastic environment full of foil. Kell recorded the good hour of noises we made and took a few photos and the recording became our soundtrack for the Wash sequence. Genius.
While I’ve described 7, there were still so many different avenues we explored! The description of each of these phases were based on my experiences throughout the two weeks, and I’m really grateful to be a part of the process, it’s important to mention though that each individual will have different perspectives of the movement. As such, the movement was constantly shifting and never the same, which is again something that adds to the aura of the experimentation. I believe that this provides Kell with a skeleton of her desired framework on which she can choose to develop on, deconstruct or entirely retrograde.
I guess the experimentation was to find where resonance was most apparent. Being a part of this process I can say that in each task I felt resonance. For me, I felt there was a certain frequency of energy that was sometimes influenced by the music or by the other dancers, and it would absorb into my movement or mood causing resonance. As a spectator however there is more of a distance between the movement and sound and so resonance may be harder to find. I cannot begin to describe the withdrawals I am experiencing now that it is over. It was truly a great experience, both meeting like minded dancers and exploring new ways to connect movement with an idea. Brianna Kell was exceptional to work with as she radiated bubbliness, encouragement and so many creative ideas, I am really looking forward to what she will produce in the future !!