I realised that I so so so enjoy dance improvisation and that I have a lot more discipline than I thought when it comes to staying in the zone during performance. Improvisation offers you the opportunity and freedom to explore your limits but also to respond directly to the different energies in the room.
In terms of the projection, I need to make sure to export a smaller file next time so that I don't have to shorten the film like I had to do during the set up. Also, I need to get used to not having a designated dance space and to find other places such as parks to dance in, in preparation, and to have the confidence to do so.
The set up of the dance within the space in relation to everyone else's work had to be negotiated quite a bit. Initially I had small seats for the audience to sit around which worked well as it covered up the wires for the speakers and the projector. However, after the performance I feel like people didn't necessarily need the seats, although people sat down and watched properly towards the end. I don't know whether this decision was made out of fear of becoming fully a walk by scenario or whether it was because of the theatricality of the piece.
I will be going to more Butoh technique classes in London in the summer.
The set up so far in Beaconsfield has been stressful as there have been a few technical difficulties with the video. However, after deciding to use the cottons sheets, I was allocated a space against the wall where I could tie the sheets to a metal rig, so they could hang down. I had a paving slab with me too and wanted to see the aesthetic if we pulled the sheets tighter so the slab was the epicentre, creating tension which I think would support the mood of the performance. There was a debate as to whether we needed the sheets at all but through experimentation we found that the sheets showed the textures of the video better. I also decided to use 1 of the 3 LED lights because I didn't want to dilute the colours that were being projected onto the sheets.
The technical difficulties were solved but I had to chop the file into 3 different films and choose one because the file was too big to be played by the media player into the projector which is a shame.
The top three rows are with the plastic sheet and the bottom three are screen shots from a rehearsal with the cotton sheet. I prefer the cotton sheets in person - they absorb the textures of the video better. If the projection isnt full on the plastic, it looks quite cheap and messy and I thought that some of the textures looked too glossy which would take away from my performance.
For this piece I would like to dance as a durational performance, lasting for the full 3 hours of the exhibition opening evening. I have been improvising for this long in rehearsals in the week leading up to it, starting with initial 30 mins-1 hour improvs and working my way up to the full time. In terms of costume I have chosen to wear trousers and to go semi-nude as this supports the degree of vulnerability that I would like to portray. In terms of body paint I am going to apply gold and white paint over my exposed skin and part of my trousers in order to create a 'screen' for the projection. In terms of dance I also have to think about my position in relation to the projector to make sure that silhouettes are behind me.
For the soundscape I wanted to use metal material as to me this represents industrial activity and farm machinery that is necessary but can become noise and an intrusive undertone in a tranquil natural environment. I wanted to try and hint at the ringing that you get in your head when you're emotionally saturated, stressed or exhausted through this metaphor of the negative relationship between industrial machines and nature.
I recorded sounds of whisks, wine glasses and saucepans in the sound studio with Peter Williams and mashed up the different samples to acquire an ongoing drone sound. I also combined these with a few samples that I had from a previous environmental project from last year and changed them so that they suited to this purpose. The result was quite profound and disturbing.
I found a video on youtube of Vangeline Theater company emulating facial expressions that resembled that of Butoh dance and studied it, which helped me to think about mine at the same time as carrying out my movement. It was interesting to see the different patterns of development each of the different actors' faces and the moments of tranquility particularly stood out to me.
This inspiration and style came off the back of my research on Richard Long in second year. I like how his works capture the texture and configuration of the land as it is at that particular moment and thought that this tied in with my project well.
I used large cross dissolve transitions between zoomed in photographs which exposes a fusion of the textures coming through from the photo before it, making new textures and random glitches as a result of this process of morphing and transforming. Also, this process flattens the images as they transfer from one to the other, any 3D qualities are destroyed which I think fits in quite well with the mood im going for with the performance.
Min Tanaka is a Butoh dance practitioner who believed that to dance Butoh is to become a force of nature and composed workshops called Body Weather, which he taught from the 1980s until just recently, 4 hours outside of Tokyo to many students and dancers. His original training was in Ballet and Modern Dance but his interest is how the environment affects our movement and how the exploration of the setting and observations can influence our behaviour and our movement. He is particularly interested in farming and how this influences the human body - many farming choices are in response to the weather and to nature.
Minako Seki is a Butoh dancer, teacher and choreographer:
"My body is a water bag" is her quote on her website.
A mixture between outburst, rigidity and fluidity consitute Seki's movements. I particularly love Human Form, as she has done site-specific versions of this performance as well, showing the range of places that this choreography is suited. I also like her combination of organic and artificial colours within the projections and her glitch-like movements, making reference to the technological and controlled world to which we live in.
This is the basis of my dance improvisation as well as the projection video. The pace of both elements are opposing - This poem is quite choppy and cutting whereas the videos slowly morph together which allows interesting dynamics to unfold in the movement sequences that take place!
Butoh dance, also known as the Dance of Darkness, is a Japanese art form that has stemmed from Kabuki and Noh Theatre in combination with Modern dance and French Poetry. The first practitioners emerged just after World War II when Japan was in a great societal depression as well as undergoing pressures of westernisation. This poetic form of dance at first aimed to show the polarity between light and dark, visually and metaphorically as well as showing how the two elements can be closely related. The performances tend to be improvised but are based on a poetic score, conducted by the choreographer. This can be composed of photos, paintings and poetry and none of it necessarily has to be related or have a means to an end which allows the score to be interpreted differently each time it is performed. The nature of Butoh is that any body can perform it and transform it to suit them, it is a dance/art form that embraces and needs change as its main characteristic. The two main founders of Butoh were Kazuo Ono and Hijikata Tatsumi.