Tue 22 Jan
I made an effort to meet prospective participants and talk with them where possible. I had learnt from projects I’ve participated in that it’s important to to invest in relations as much as the choreography. I wanted to have a process that was attended to carefully in the belief that this was important ethically but also that it would support the content of the work.
Making 1. We did some body work, moved around the room, played with breath which turned into sounds which turned into words and then sentences – moving and saying whatever we saw or thought, changing the volume of the sounds and the volume of the movement. Then we watched a video clip of a speech and started to repeat a small gesture and then transforming it into something else before returning it to the original gesture. Then we read out part of the same speech but rearranged in alphabetical order. Finally we watched the speech for 6 minutes, moved for 6 minutes, wrote for 6 minutes and then had a discussion. Hamish, Amaara, Eva, Vicky, Colm, Matthew.
This was the first time I have choreographed something on someone else, and I was nervous about having people come along with an idea of mine.
Sat 26 Jan
Making 2. We had a conversation about what a political speech was and whether we’d seen any. We came up with list of some of the features of a dance performance (e.g. bodies, costume, intention) with a view to creating a framework for watching speeches in the future. We worked on Eva talking to an audience (me) – first with a continuous trail of thought at different distances, and then trying to communicate without speaking, then using different body parts (hand, knee, feet, arm, shoulder, nose, mouth etc.). Then we worked on embodying sounds: moving across the studio embodying vowels, then names, then freely moving and sounding, changing (sound, dynamics, size etc.) or sticking with things as directed. Finally we read 2 parts of a 3-part score based on alphabeticised party conference speeches. Hamish, Eva.
Sun 27 Jan
Colm and Hamish visited Speaker’s Corner and discussed: Why do people speak there?How do people move? How is it like Street theatre? Do the audience argue and interrupt because of the speakers or because of the situation?
See also this documentary: Speakers’ Corner: You Have The Right To Remain Vocal
Tue 29 Jan
After a catch up discussion including talking about encounters with speeches in the last week, we began with Amaara alternately moving and writing answers to four questions ‘What is a political speech?’, ‘Who gives political speeches?’, ‘Why do they give political speeches?’ and ‘What is a political speech like?’ Firstly 2 minutes moving, 2 minutes writing etc. then after answering the questions going back for 1 minute moving, 1 minute writing etc. We then watched some videos of speeches focussing on the emotions of the speaker, the speech and the audience before using those emotions as a starting point for movement. Amaara
Sat 02 Feb
Making 4. We warmed up with an ‘evolutionary’ movement exploration that culminated in moving while describing how we were moving. Then everyone moved . Everyone then alternately moved and wrote answers to four questions ‘What is a political speech?’, ‘Who gives political speeches?’, ‘Why do they give political speeches?’ and ‘What is a political speech like?’ (see last session). The answers were then used as people broke into pairs and threes with one speaking and the other(s) moving and finding variations of this. Hamish, Eva, Vicky, Colm, Martin, Sarah.
Sun 03 Feb
Speaker’s Corner. We looked for a movement and an utterance that we could replicate in the studio. We looked out for four main elements of performance – the people (performers and audience); the movement; the set(ting); the sound. We then had a discussion about these observations and some of the parallels with dance/ performance.
Thur 07 Feb
I often felt frustrated at the support that the class gave each other. I worry that as a class we had not cultivated a mature and critical was of discussing work. Perhaps part of the frustration might have been down to different tastes and ideas about choreography. But there was more to it than that. The sharings were useful practice for my performers though.
Sat 16 Feb
Tue 19 Feb
I was keen to have a process that was not solely about making a performance. I wanted the project to be rooted in research and so I maintained a blog that exploring some of the ideas I was dealing with in the studio, including with contributions from guest writers.
Tue 26 Feb
Sat 23 Feb
I also feel that my attention to the process was not enough. I think that although I wanted the work to be idea led by research and an appropriate mode of creation. But since I was expected to produce a 10 minute movement led piece in a theatre it was misleading to think that the starting point could be something else. As a result the work ended up being compromised.
Sat 02 Mar
Sat 09 Mar
Thur 14 Mar
Sat 16 Mar
I decided to use studio space at Roehampton University in the belief that dedicate studio space would create the right conditions for making work – not just adequate space but also the certainty of being undisturbed. While this worked it also meant that I got little support from Simonetta through the process and when I did it was generally by video. I did bring in some choreographer friends to watch and feedback which was some help and I also asked for feedback from people I know in the audience of the final performance. I’m not sure if this was a fair trade off. The end result was that I have little sense of the piece’s strengths and am left with the feeling that it was poor.
Tue 19 Mar
At times it felt that I wasn’t sure what was more important – producing a performance or creating a process that was something in itself. The two were in tension with each other and perhaps meant both were compromised.
Sat 23 Mar
I also got too carried away with the research. Perhaps I was trying to be to clever. As a a result (and as pointed out to me by a tutor at Roehampton University) I may have just developed ideas outside the studio and then brought them ready to the studio. I found it hard to see what was happening in the studio. This is what Peter Brook wrote in the subject:
1) What did you see? Did any moments, movements or images stand out?
Riccardo: i really like the ending section, i thought there’s a lot of potential there in using the physicality of the people “speeching” into movement. i couldn’t really connect with the text though. somehow i don’t remember any of it. what were u using? i’d like to know more about this to give u more feedback about it.
2) What one element would you remove? (it’s up to you what ‘element’ means)
Riccardo: i could not connect to the movement material at the beginning of the work. i think this is another moment where the text is really important: text is really meaningful. movement can be too, and can either distract or make text stronger. i felt that there was a lack of direction in the movement quality. were you juxtaposing abstract movement to text? where is the text coming from? it felt a bit nonsensical and the juxtaposition of abstract movement material might create more confusion or too much of it.
Lola: Throwing the papers to the floor in the last section.
3) What one element would you keep? (and discard everything else)
Riccardo: last section with notes said at the beginning.
Lola: The first image/the opening
4) What new element would you add to the piece?
Riccardo: thoughts on the physical quality you want to use/explore: i feel that speeches have to do with hierarchies, mind manipulation, convincing… i think these concepts can feed your work a lot.
speeching makes me think of distances in space and of military sequences. it makes me think about manipulating the attention of the audience as well… showing something that is convincing or voluntarily boring… i personally think that speeches are boring. so you might want to add irony in it? just wondering.
it might be about going into researching which kind of text you want to use -if you want to use it of course. you just could even explore convincing that elephants can fly… you know what i mean? one single and simple, essential, manipulation of meaning -the absurdity of a concept- could be already enough for you to create a powerful -and cruel image- to comment on the power of speeching. is this thought clear? going into a simple narrative might help. as a spectator i like to be confused, but not under too many perspectives… i think this might show more clarity of direction. personal taste though.
role play within the performance too… not only speeching to audience but among performers… variations of the same concept translated within/towards the work… clear?
Lola: A moment of explosion followed by a moment of nothingness.
5) What one thing would you modify in the piece?
Lola: In the last section, spoken section, I would work more deeply on the rhythm, add far more pauses/silences to create surprise and suspense, varying the lenght of the “sequences/phrases” in between silences.