Sharing privileges

Wow its been a while, I feel so guilty for not posting anything on here for some time. Life has changed and grown and I have had some fabulous engaging moments in my time away. Moments of clarity, moments of jubilation and moments of closure. I have met with some interesting people and made new friends, I have shared my passion with others and have had the privilege of others sharing theirs with me. Below all of this is the overdue promised thoughts and summaries of the workshop I carried out on the Hoe. It genuinely feels like a very long time since I have revisited this blog because there has been so much happening since then. The most note worthy was a trip to Wales on a movement workshop that lasted 3 days with Ailsa Richardson where I experienced new techniques of working outside and reassured myself that what I am doing is on the right track. Mostly though it had affirmed my thinking and helped me to focus my line of enquiry. I will reveal the results of this very soon, but I’m currently finishing the negotiated project. Part one was the workshop, part two is a book (I finally decided on its format) and part 3 will be a paper (of which I’m procrastinating from writing right now!).

The other exciting thing I have been up to is a press trip with Adventure Temples and Chris Hewitt Photography for The Independent. Journalist Kate Simon came down to expereince a range of activities and one of them was dancing with me on a beach! We did a short dance class inspired by Pilates and Yoga (I’m also training as a Pilates instructor) on the beach at Bedruthan Steps between Newquay and Padstow. The article is due out 3rd June and her is a photograph taken by Chris during the movement class.

I also saw the Olympic torch come through St Austell today, I wasn’t going to watch it as I had lots of things to do but I changed my mind at the last minute. Here’s one of the pictures I took of the torch coming across Truro Road this afternoon.

Right now back to site dance…..Here are the final summaries from the participants of the workshop conducted on the Hoe in Plymouth.

Monika

The pieces of black plastic on the steps… In my ears the sea is going wild. Such a difference between the sound I hear and image I see.

I felt like I was 8 years old again sitting in the yard and waiting. I lost the notion of time, I mixed the past and present…I was a child again.

Rubbish…rolling/sliding back and forth…Stillness…Rolling, stopping, changing and never both together. Cold feet.

When I lost the sound….I started to listen with my body. I hear my earrings hitting my neck and making an inner rhythm…the sound of heart beating. This rhythm involves me and hypnotises. I feel more comfortable being in an open space, a space which has no beginning, no end. I let it (space) inside me….and talk to me. I get more active in the space even when I am still.

Rocks/stones become so soft, I’m going deep and deeper in to a depth of nowhere and everywhere. Feet are still cold, still feel the rocks touching my head, my back, I never thought the sense could be so strong after you lose the direct connection with the material. I feel differently…

Helen

What I notice? Sound of waves on stones, stones under my feet…smell so clear and fresh. I hear the birds and look to see them….notice this great clamping, grasping, spreading plant sticks to the stone. Every stem is thick and strong and reaches up. Drawn to the sea, gentle curling waves, splashing against the wall, shooting up and dropping down…throwing and holding. Decay – time – colour – gravity

What I see? Sailing boat/Lines of horizon/split of space. MY BAG! Like a splat on the ground, dark and unfamiliar. Crack in the wall running diagonally

What I hear? I hear the waves and know that this sound will be constant during my hearing. I hear people, chattering, about money and putting shoes on. I hear the occasional popping of bubbles in the sea, they sound humorous making light of the stressful conversations. A far away hum, I sense the sound of the wind under everything. The sun burns my skin and I wonder if its making a sound

What I touch? The small bits of gravel under my feet as I pressed my feet into the ground I slid my feet around feeling the friction and swilling. I sat down and touched the gravel; I made more contact with the step, felt more in direct. Sense the width of the step, to see if my body could fit along. I was in a coffin, squashed into the step. I stretched my legs to touch the stain above and below me. The flat parts of my body, the feeless, wanted to make as much contact. My hand feels the flatness of the steps and is surprised to find bumpy, bubbly and hard with smoothness.

Gravity internal, lines, gravel, balance…so very internal…

Dimitra

Shiny water, flowers growing on the wall, metal against stone, vertical and horizontal lines, I capture my vision with pictures….The sun is reflecting on the surface of the water and it seems like a shiny flag mooring and floating from the air.

The sound of the sea created a very calm feeling on my body, I felt like wading and floating around, hearing just that sound. The sound of some birds create some happy breaks, like someone poking me to move – float a bit further away. This is a sense of meditation for me, it is a chance to calm, to breathe, to hear the sound that makes me wobbly and elevated.

The cold wet sea, touching my bare feet, the rocks pinchingmy toes. The warm rock against my body evening the temperature. Summer is close by, the sun bravely touches my face. Three different sensations in the same body, in the same space.

  1. Feet that feel the urge to move all the time
  2. The body relaxed against the wall
  3. The face wanting to open more and look up!

Stacey

Wet footprints….crashing waves, the sound…shape and colour of railings…archway structure….bumpy walls…difference between bricks…curvy wall…shapes…open space…rust…lines – stairs, structure of arch ways….Architecture.

The stones – The Sea – Brick wall

Bright Blue – Something in the distance

Silver metal frame – Steps – Sun reflecting on wall

Green – Shadows – Dust

Lines – Grey – Rust

I felt supported, comfortable.

I fitted within the space.

My back and head pushed against the wall

I squeezed into the confined space.

My weight shifted, my body was supported by the structure.

Cold against my skin.

Calming

I sunk into the space

It felt right

I liked the space I found

Voices overpowered at first but then became echoed. Crashing waves the sea also made a soft twinkling sound. I wanted to hear that more. Vibration sound constantly in the background/in the distance. I think I only heard this because I had my closed and was concentrating.

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A reason for silence

Forgive me for not posting anything for nearly 3 weeks! There is a very good reason…. Today saw the launch of my new company –

Red Yew

Red Yew is a small dance production company creating performance and film, offering dance to a wide audience and working with other like minded professionals. It aims to capture imaginations, awaken the senses and document space for audiences, communities and individuals.. In addition, Red Yew acts as an umbrella for research into site dance and spatial communication, dance classes for the community in mid-south Cornwall, commissioned work and educational workshops.

The launch has gone really well, I’m so pleased. Its taken me 2 weeks to design the website and then I wanted to choose a local company to host my site, so I spent about 3 days researching the choice of hosts. I finally chose Spring Media Design, who have been fabulous. The advice given has helped me so much and its really honest advice.

I left Exim in March, the travelling was getting too much financially as well as time, and my health was not great. Also my research started taking over and it was necessary to make some changes. Leaving was a hard decision, but I hope this new venture will be just as exciting as Exim has been.

Translated poem

I’m still writing an article for the site sensing day, its not finished so I don’t want to publish it yet. However, I heard from the Cornish langauage partnership, my poem has been translated!! So I want to share it:

Minions

Gans Stacy Herring, 11 bloodh.

Tewl hag askornek erbynn ebron growan

y sav an Minions

koth ha prout.

Meyn revnys gans gwyns ha glaw

Bedhlennys yn niwl

ha kevrin

Avel tarosvan a splann yn feuredhek a

Ven dhe Ven

An Hurlysi a dhons yn

kylgh a bystri

Hag an gwyns ow hwystra

ton ankoth.

An Geuswask a sav uhel avel moos kowr

ow kortos dalleth an wledh!

Piw a wra nesa dhe’n wledh?

Martesen tarosvan Krug Reslegh

A wra dhe’n sensys kosa der own?

Tir hag a berthi prevyans termyn

yw terrys lemmyn ha skwattys gans

hwithrans denses nownek bras

rag rychys.

Jynnjiow brywek

a sav avel meyn-kov a

Dhysmygyans ha krefni denses!

Py lies tarosvan a worwedha yn-dann

an dor goliys yn

kowfordhow kepar ha koneri?

Ny wor denvyth kevrinyow

Minions, a syns an tir

yn skruth, own ha marth!

Stacy Weeks (Herring)©1992

I’m so pleased and can’t wait to hear it spoken out loud. I’m already picking up rhythms when I try to imagine the words being spoken. I just hope it can be read without rushing in 90 seconds!

I’ve also edited Bleak for the BBC big screen, so hopefully they still want and are now able to screen it. Once its been given the ok I will share that too. Overall, despite feeling rather poorly it has been a relatively good day so far.

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Today is the day

Well I can quite honestly say it couldn’t have been a better day! The sun was beaming, the wind was calm and for the first part the space was quiet and free from sunseekers.

The Hoe, Plymouth

We all arrived and walked down to the site to begin the exploration, having been there before and had a ‘play’ I wanted to conduct the experiments and document the journeys that each individual made. Each participant brought something interesting and similar to the table two actors and two dancers, but the responses were all completely different, affirming my previous confirmations that perception is very very individual.  I waa left thinking about the name of this blog, I notice what you notice but I do not and cannot ever see what or how you see. No one can, our minds filter what they want and I am beginning to think that a lot can be understood about people after working in a site in this way. A very personal portrait starts to appear and you begin to see how other people process the space but you don’t see it as they do. There is something rather lovely about individualism here that is innocent and not exploitive or egocentric. There is no bravado, just you and what you see. What can be done is this: I can watch you and ask you what is making those impulses, what the sensations are, what are you thinking and how are you feeling? Then I can try and understand that within my own body and begin to explore how my body behaves to what you have shared. All in all its been a great day and I need a couple of days to reflect on what I have witnessed today and its the annual Spring Flower Show tomorrow at Boconnoc as well as having a day with my family, just a shame the weather is on the turn as we have a BBQ planned!

A few pictures from today:

 

Site visitation

Finally the site has been finalised for my observed non assessed part of the negotiated project. The Hoe in Plymouth has a wealth of spaces but the one that appears as the most playful is the old Lido area under thr Tinside cafe. Lots of places to engulf yourself in some sited experiments. Visted the site with H on Friday and played with some movement and ideas to help shape the experiments for this coming Friday.

Proposal for final project has also come back with a big tick indicating it has passed, a few minor alterations recommended but so far today is shaping up pretty nicely. The weather is absolutely glorious here in South coast Cornwall, beautifully sunny and a warm (ish) breeze fluttering in and out, its days like this that I remember how wonderful iving here is. The middle gardne becomes a little sun trp and working from home today means sitting outside, working on the laptop enjoying a day of office work! I had the sudden ureg to dance around the garden in pyjamas this morning as it was ever so still and quiet, which made me think back to Isadora Duncan and her infusible nature, dancing in gardens and woods. The freedom in just moving outside is a valuable expression of emotion, it really allows you to interpret space the way you wish with your body, not formally walking through parks and gardens but actually moving for yourself in a premeditated or group activity/sport/tour. What I mean by this, walking through a park you see people engaging with each other or following the routes laid down by tourist boards so you only see what they want you to see. Its the occasional glimpse of a child playing on their own in a tree or walking along a beach and seeing someone painting. These are the people that are interpreting the space, engaging with the environment and investigating place.

Thinking back to Body Sensing this was my impulse (slightly childish I know but was too tempting not to):

So Friday is quickly approaching, my thoughts for the experiments are now as follows:

Approximately 1 hour starting at 10.20am.

1. Pychogeography task – walking and noting the space.

2 Meditating space – settling oneself in space and noting what you see with a time bounded exercise.

3. Hearing space – shutting off sight and touch.

4. Touching space – using only the fibres of nerves with the skin, how does the site feel without seeing or hearing.

Discussion on what we have found so far , each exercise will be followed by a witnessing if appropriate.

Approximately 1 hour.

5. Reaction to space – how do we respond to site. Choosing any medium on offer or negotiated with the session organiser, respond to the site and then analyse the response using body sensing.

Sharing our findings – end.

This will be followed by one to one responses/interviews with the participants as a discussion to how they felt the experiments hekped them or not to engage with the space.

Really loved the distressed appearance of this lock. H loves locks so this picture is for her.

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Clearing the visual mind – exercise one

Its recently come to my attention that Spring has finally arrived! Late I know but today I actually became conscious of the new beginnings and freshness that evolves and grows so naturally at this time of year. Now this may be the work of planetary conjunctions, the spring equinox or just seeing a space with a renewed vigour. Spring is definitely here in all its glory and it is showing us new energy in the world around us.

My line of thinking has gone to the negotiated project coming up very soon and how the experiments are formed and the usefulness and relevance of them. Based on my renewed affinity with nature I am left thoughtful on how I am seeing and what I am seeing. So here goes at a rough interpretation: The journey to Plymouth has recently changed, the grass is greener, trees are starting to dress themselves and animals are producing progeny. I am becoming far more aware of my surroundings than I was before. Having a conversation with a friend, I starting picking up on a force of a backdrop of trees, suddenly I turned around and they became very domineering and almost ominous, until I looked straight at them and analysed them. The height and size of them are what struck me initially, all very thin trees closely packed and restricted, small avenues for light to pass through but when you look closely you can see a route through them. My body wanted to mimic that feeling by growing and then move in very linear restricted way. Whilst reading a blog article on body sensing I can now split those feelings into the four distinct categories suggested within the article:

  • Thought
  • Feelings
  • Sensation
  • Impulses

Heres a few mental notes from the tree/convo encounter:

Thought – Tall, reaching over, pulling, shrinking

Feelings – Fear, Foreboding, judging,

Sensations – anxiety, distracted thoughts, tingling in the stomach, shortened breath, tightness of body

Impulses – move away, confront, placate, turn around to face them

Its this self observation that I wish to explore during the negotiated project. This event in my life was not as an exactment of engaging with the space, but a sense that started randomly. I think it is a direct result of the way my practice is starting to infuse my self. By centring the body in a space using phenomenological and somatic techniques, a person will become more tuned to the environment they wish to explore. Its all in the fine tuning, clearing the mind and then relaxing the body so the mind can listen. This relative dichotomy is something relevant in most relationships, listening, stabilizing and balancing. A meditative approach to relating with a space.

It just struck me as funny today that I am taking far more notice of the things around me than ever before. What I like is the words that have been generated from the categorising exercise. This is definitely one of the exercises I wish to explore next Friday, as they can lend themselves to the generation of movement, words or pictures.

Draft Exercise:

Exercise one (5 minutes front/5 minutes back) – stand, sit or lay down in the space.Put in headphones/ear plugs Close the eyes. Identify one key sound in the site and lock into it. Clear the mind of anything else (similar to the OHM in meditation, which can be used if needed). Feel the weight of the body come aground so that the body is no longer just upon the ground, it is part of the ground. When ready, open the eyes and look ahead only taking in what is directly in front of you. Look left to write or right to left until the space has been evaluated visually. Repeat facing the opposite way. Only write down or draw what you have discovered in the first trip, categorising what you have collated.

I think this could be used as the basis for all the exercises, shutting off all but one of the senses as we go along. However, I want to make each one different so that the participants don’t get bored with what they are doing. The next few days will look at how to ground the body in space, how we hear space and how that can be defined through movement.

Hilarious discussion on blogging… completely laughed at some of my own posts shortly after reading this….

Snotting black

I was eating a PB&J out of tinfoil during class and thinking about blogging, as I often do. I had recently read a friend’s blog that he just started a few months ago and doesn’t update very often. Its future doesn’t look good—a few more months it will likely become another blog corpse silently occupying net space.  As I read his first tentative posts, I was reminded of my own blogging beginnings that stretch back to my senior year of high school.

It was a secret blog, called The Drevet (now deleted), and I posted a mere two times. The first one was the obligatory and awkward, “Hello world,” in which it seemed I was preparing to face all of humanity and be utterly rejected. It was the kind of introduction that set the bar so low even I couldn’t reach it. After only two months I stopped thinking about…

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A thoughful St Patrick’s Day morning…

Happy St Patricks Day! The sun is (currently) shining and the weather looks settled for the week. Hubby is off work so I anticipate getting the gardening gloves out tomorrow (after I’ve visited my mum for mothers day of course) and getting stuck in to tackle the weeds that are slowly engulfing the garden. So today is MRes day and business and tomorrow will most defintily be for R & R in the garden. Its the spring flower show soon and the veggie patch needs to be ready ASAP! What has been the most beautiful moment so far this morning is sitting in the kitchen writing this, the sun is streaming in through the wide French doors and all three dogs are settled and enjoying some quiet time in the kitchen. I wish I could share this moment with you visually, but its more of a sense than a picture. Both the Border Collies are wrapped up around my feet and Max (he is his own beautiful breed) is laying down and soaking up the warmth of the sun on the rug, he will be 10 in June. There is a real sense of calm and stillness, and for the first time in a long while a grounded feeling.

The overall togetherness of the pack is really apparent, the youngest one is 11 months old next Thursday and her presence has for a long time been quite disruptive and chaotic. Since she had her first season though, she has calmed down a lot and her personality is now starting to form. I know I am humanising my dogs but  it is my way of relating to a non human animal, I find their mannerisms and abilities fascinating. For example, Chace, the middle one, is the joker in the pack, always doing the most silly things and acting up. He has a sparkle in his eye that makes him appear rather cheeky. He was referred to as a chocolate box dog the other day! The lady thought he looked like he should be on a cover of a calender or a book and likened him to the thatched houses on chocolate boxes. He is a beautiful dog, but that is down to his excellent breeding (Brueway Chasing Dreams is his KC), if only I could get to behave in the show ring! He has a tendency to ‘flirt’ with the judges, exact words from one judge ‘How old is he?’ Me: ‘just over 3 years’ Judge: ‘3 going on 6 months then!’ Me: ‘Yes you could say that….’. All in all it is a wonderful morning in this household, a feeling of contentment and healing is circling the space, so now is definitely a time to think, get a cup of tea and evaluate both play and practice, for home and my work.

My thinking is leaning towards a recent assignment for one of the MRes Dance modules at Plymouth modules MARE500. The task was to read a short passage (pp. 8-11) from Saul Frampton’s book When I am Playing with my Cat, How do I know she is not playing with me? (2011). A short review of Frampton’s book can be found here. I found this picture on Google and I think the illustration is fabulous.

It has started to clarify my thinking towards this term site-specific and battle with its relevancy. Here is my response (please note this is my interpretation of the text in reference to site-specific dance,  it is meant as a presentation and all other references are listed in the Bibliography page of this blog.

Montaigne presentation Thursday 15th March.

My research practice lies within the realm of dance, namely sited dance performance and communicating space through movement.  For quite some time now I have been struggling with the the word specific and the notion of perception. Specifically, the way in which the word is used to describe a piece of dance outside of a theatre. The term site-specific dance has become a phrase associated with the highest elevation of this practice, in 2005 Camille LeFevre, a dance writer/journalist, suggested that (quote) ‘the sites unique cultural matrix of characteristics’ (unquote) must be employed to be part of the specific category. The Oxford English Dictionary offers up the meaning of the word specific, in its adjective form (quote) ‘clearly defined or identified’ (unquote) and as a noun (quote) ‘a precise detail’ (unquote). This term site-specific dance, with both these statements in mind, would then suggest a series of thoughts that encompass every precise detail so that if you performed the dance somewhere else it would have no meaning at all. This reading regarding Michel de Montaigne and Rene Descartes has led to a new insight in my thinking about the word specific and the term site-specific dance.

Depending on what side of the fence you sit, the term site-specific dance can be studied equally by both these philosophers based on how Saul Frampton offers us both perspectives. On the one hand you have Descartes who would quite literally dissect every minute detail to understand the certainty of this phrase which Frampton describes as (quote) ‘the intellectual principle of division’ (unquote). Whilst Montaigne would examine what brings this term together and find the similarities, within the phrase, the site and the movement. My thinking initially is that Montaigne would say site-specific dance does exist and Descartes would disagree as the variables, once each part has been broken down, would not necessarily fit back together. The essence of my enquiry is probably clarity, for me I need to understand how this statement can work and be applied. The word specific seems personal and that I should stand on Montaigne’s side and explore myself knowledge and my relationship with the site so that what I make is specific to me. However, so far I have been dealing in the extracted realm of Descartes, illuminating my presence within the examination and trying to pin point exactly what it is that can make the phrase ‘site-specific’ true or false.

In order for me to erase all uncertainty I believe a mixture of both these philosophical principles need to be examined to ascertain the compatibility and the application to my practice; the self-reflective principles of trust offered by Michel de Montaigne and the dissection that Rene Descartes concludes. Combining both the methods offered in this excerpt from Saul Frampton a deeper enquiry can be achieved and possibly an outcome that will not leave me sat on the fence. (END)

Frampton, S. (2011) When I am playing with my cat, how do I know she is not playing with me? Faber & Faber Ltd: London.

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The presentation was received well, of which I am glad as I struggled with this assignment to begin with. I need to project my voice more, though not shout and the lecturer Roberta Mock gave some great tips on how to present a paper to an audience. It was a valuable and entertaining session. I found wearing my glasses to read helped (obvious, yes, but wait for it)….my glasses are just for reading and computer work, but when I look up the peoples faces are blurry so I can’t see them! When I read I can look around an audience with confidence as I cannot see the reaction on their faces, so it looks like I’m making eye contact and engaging with the people listening.

My Negotiated project will utilise the methods of both these philosophers and I presume that the evaluation of element 1 (experiments in a site) will help inform element 3 (academic paper on site dance, specificity and its relationship to Cornwall). Element 2 however will try and capture the spirit of the exercise of element 1 and portray it as a visual stimulatory document for site practice.

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A great deal of strength

There are days that go by with no worries at all and then there are days that pose the beginning of an end, a very large fly in the ointment or the start of something fresh and new. This week is turning out more akin to the latter statements those that pose. The frustration is born out of not knowing when to let go, when to begin and how to manage. What seems fair and reasonable to some is contextually wrong to others. There are some big changes coming and I need to ready myself, its about creating not finding….but the focus and grounded feeling I’m having lately is very positive. I seem to be coming back to my roots and pulling on things that I had long since forgotten. Sensing is obviously having a great effect on me.

This notion has led me back to perception. Perception is fast becoming a love hate relationship it keeps popping up everyhwhere I go, thwarting my every move and poking me in the ribs! I can’t wait to get element one of my negotiated project done, I think it will throw out some interesting notions to play with in the future. Today though I had my usual early morning drive to Plymouth for class, and picked up J. J and I are in the car and every time we drive we usually see hoards of magpies, so much so that the superstitous part of us wants to close our eyes and not see them, because its gauranteed that we will see at least one. For those of you that don’t know the modern ryhme, it goes like this:

One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver ,Six for gold, Seven for a secret, Never to be told, Eight for a wish, Nine for a kiss, Ten for a bird You must not miss.

The older version is slightly different:

One for sorrow, Two for mirth, Three for a marriage, Four for a birth (or death in some parts of the country)….and so on as the modern.

Where has our superstition come from? So here comes the P word…..Perception perhaps?

What is standing out for me, from these non experiments is making me understand how I see and how I process spatial information. I see trees, water, animals, birds as well as particular buildings and natural formations. Then I see the definition of the item, so the way the trees branches are structured and the movement of the tree. A tree with no leaves is far more interesting to me than a tree in bloom.

Based on what I’ve just written, my perception is stronger towards structure, form and movement. I notice the building and the lines and in the sea I notice how it moves. Its not for me how pretty the landscape is but what makes the landscape pretty to me.

My latest obsession

Nothing to do with site dance today.

I’m prone to having small obsessions on certain things: Cake, chocolate, knitting really useless items like apple cosies and today I can successfully add another one to my list. Pinterest! I had my invite over a week ago and yesterday I chose to delve into the realm of the virtual pinboard. My only criticism is that you can only pin pictures and videos, I would like to add poems and make connections but hey ho you can’t have it all can you (unless its real cake and then you really can have some then eat it). So here is a link to my Pinterests

http://pinterest.com/bleak2011/

My question now to you is this: When procrastination becomes productive is it no longer procrastination?

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