Notions of Journeying – the threads of a new body of work is born

Hello and welcome to my blog! My intention is for this to become a collage of thoughts and ideas in response to my choreographic dance work. Initially the blog will serve to keep any who are interested up to date with my current project – ‘Notions of Journeying’. So, to start is a brief background to this project and how it came into being…

From 2007– 8 I worked as Artist in residence at Daghdha Dance Company (Limerick, Ireland) under the Daghdha Mentoring Programme (DMP). My time at Daghdha was an exciting year of exploration and innovation where I was able to unravel my personal dance practice, as well as define my present tastes, inspirations and aesthetics, within a climate of artistic freedom created under the direction of Michael Klien and the guidance of my mentor Elena Giannotti. On completion of my residency, I travelled to Ghana in November 2008. I lived for 7 months in a rural area of the Upper West Region to carry out research into how dance and music permeate everyday life in the subsistence farming community of the Dagaari tribe. My experience of everything there was entirely different and I returned with a new perspective on choreography and dance.
My fascination with the idea of ‘journey’ began in Ireland when I was travelling regularly between Limerick and England. My concern about the environment, sustainability and my personal carbon footprint resulted in a decision to stop taking short-haul flights. Instead I travelled between these two countries by train and ferry – the journey from Limerick to London non-stop takes a minimum of 12 hours (rather than 1hour 10mins from Shannon to Stansted by plane). So I spent a lot of time on journeys, and thinking about journeys were they ‘wasted’ travel days, or just as valuable as any other? The western world has become very concerned about time efficiency, we are goal orientated and we want to arrive, almost before we have even departed. My interest extended to all notions of journey: physical journeys from one place to another; metaphorical journeys either in thought processes, life journeys, emotional shifts and states. With this idea of ‘journey’ comes an interest in arrival and departure, transition, process, the desire for destination, the recognition of a gradual shift, and how the present tense is an essential ingredient in this mix of time and timing.
I wanted to find ways to denote these journeys and the passing of time visually. I developed a series of drawings ‘Mapping Journeys’ and became intrigued by the relevance of the mathematical sine wave in the natural world. The idea for this project ‘notions of journeying’ were born.

2 Strands of Visual Material

1). Mapping Journeys (image above)
These drawings are simple: at the start of a journey I put pen on a blank page and let the movement of the vehicle draw my picture. I resist the temptation of directing the pen where I’d like it to go; instead I allow the journey to draw itself. Most journeys I took in Ireland and Ghana (2008-9) have a drawing such as this. Each offer ample suggestions for movement, quality, atmosphere and intention. They provide a fascinating start point for translating into movement and dance. I intend to use them as scores available to several different kinds of interpretation – developing both a movement language and an over-arching shape for an entire piece/series of sketches.

2).The sine wave and its relationship to the change in daylight hours across the seasons

The change in daylight hours between winter and summer solstices conforms to the standard ratios of the mathematical sine wave. This ratio became the structural basis for ‘A Still Return’, the critically acclaimed solo I created on the Daghdha Mentoring Programme (2007-8), that continues to tour in Ireland and the UK. Whilst the structure/rules continue to be of interest to me, the movement I applied now seems remarkably arbitrary.

In response to this, I intend to experiment with possible ways of placing the language developed through the tasks with the ‘mapping journey’ drawings into the clear structure of the sine wave. In this way both the content – the steps, and the structure in which they are placed become necessary: both physically embody my ideas surrounding journeying, drawing together my interests in science and nature.

So this is the basic premise of the work to come. Thanks to generous support from a Dance Ireland Choreographic Bursary Award and Grants for the Arts, from Arts Council England, we will start rehearsals in earnest on Monday 25th January at Coachwerks, in Brighton. There will be open professional morning class available to all dance practioners during rehearsal weeks – more information and details to come shortly under the ‘Events’ page of the blog – watch this space!

Over the coming days I will detail some related reading material together with thoughts in response to some preliminary research for this project that I undertook in December 2009.

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