There are a few moments in this video which show excerpts of the film PINA editted and directed by Wim Wenders which included some beautiful site-specific moments of dance by female soloists.
I was wondering how I could present these videos in a way that would show the feeling of performing in these found natural spaces. I chose to double expose myself as a performer and the environment to create this elusion of balance which would represent the feeling of inner peace and harmony with self as well as the space I was in. Something about symmetry seems perfect, along with the improvised and natural quality of movement from my body and from the other elements of nature in the space, which in my head creates an organic and relaxing aesthetic.
Also the fact that there are two versions of me performing the same dance although improvised in that particular moment symbolises me with myself, this idea that I am happy to be alone with myself in this space and am enjoying the relaxing and meditative experience. For me this was a form of self help, so I wanted to illustrate this by duplicating so that I could show self interaction within the natural setting.
The improvisations that took place were influenced by Joni Mitchell and a band from Alabama called Other Lives. These were the artists that I most enjoyed listening to when I was walking through the nature that I encountered along my journey. I tried to keep these rhythms in mind as I was moving in the space. These are some of the key outer elements that I focus on while I am dancing in these spaces:
- direction of the wind
- the distance I am from other things that exist within that space eg, tree
- my relationship to the floor
- my relationship to the sky
- my relationship to what is behind me
- the spacing of the clouds
- the speed of the water flowing
- the texture of leaves, grass and the ground
In this way, it is like I am physically carrying out a biological observation, mapping the space with my body, measuring myself up to the weather and exploring how that affects me there and then. It is a really meditative experience, one I value greatly. I think in this day and age we tend to forget to appreciate the nature around us which we are so in connection with in reality. Technology may connect us with this virtually, but visuals are not as good as the real thing, the smell, the feel and the sounds of an environment are very powerful when you become open to them. Site-specific dance allows me to do this which I find healing.
This is a site specific performance that really inspired me to go out and find somewhere I could move but also to take time and to be slow about how I responded to the space. Choosing different moments to respond and to explore within the space that I had found and letting those to things interplay in order to make up the matter of the performance.
This is a video of Anna Halprin, the site-specific dance pioneer, working and choreographing at a similar time to Martha Graham, the pioneer of Modern dance in the 1930s and 40s. She talks about inner peace and a form of dance that includes pedestrian movements, something that anyone can do. Her dances are about reminding people to interact with their space and their bodies not in an extra-ordinary way but in a way that helps to express emotions for the self.
I found this video really helped me to have the confidence to improvise in the different places that I travelled around Europe in the summer.
The footage that made up these videos was taken in moments of improvisation, when I was travelling alone across Mid and East Europe in July 2016. I decided to travel on impulse, moving around Europe by bus across eight different countries. I chose to set myself the task of dancing in found places to keep myself entertained but also to artistically respond to the spaces I occupied and the music that I chose to listen to in each of the areas. My reasons for travelling was the feeling of saturation and being unwillingly bound to the place I had been living in. I wanted to heal and restore myself in solitude and in new environments so site-specific dance became a form of healing and rejuvenation for me.
I listened to a lot of Joni Mitchell on the buses, travelling from place to place but I didn't want to play this directly in the space I was dancing in. So instead I played it in my head and danced in silence, with the sounds of passers by and the wind. It took a lot of effort and motivation to pluck up the courage to set my camera up on my cheap tripod and plant it in a position with people watching me. But eventually I got used to it: it was quite a liberating experience to find a mode of concentration and practice that simultaneously disregarded and regarded the public.
The videos feature slow exploration of self awareness in the environments. Mapping the space as well as taking a moment to map my own body.