Cycle Stories: ‘I come from/I am from…’ Day 12

Jennifer: ‘I come from a rather dirty floor.  I come from several dirty floors in fact, my life is a series of floors.  I come from a place of floors being important.  I come from my father hoovering religiously each Sunday.  I come from having to wear socks all the time lest my foot oil disturb the sanctity of the carpet.  I come from important floors.  I am from floors that are disagreeable, hard, cold and brook no resistance.  I come from floors that seem to be telling me the ground is not a friendly surface.  I come from an unfriendly ground and so then I must inquire how that is for me.  I come from leading myself into questions like this all too often.  I come from turning myself in circles because I feel I might get somewhere this time around.  I come from a recognition of that and an absolute inability to cease circling.  I come from hard surfaces and concentric circles. I come from several rather different ideas about space and movement.  I come from linearity and spherical motion, rotation around an axis, an axis around which I rotate.’

Ben: ‘…I am from what people have made of me. Who I am is all that has been before and all my potential. I am from the most beautiful mind set which makes me sure that I am doing the right thing even though my body protests it. I am with the world. I come from spiritual connections that I can’t separate myself from. have I lived before? I quite like to think so although I would like to be a rabbit, no some kind of primate because I like the idea or a opposable toes. Imagine having hands for feet. I come from monkeys but only the clever ones…’

Anna: ‘…I come from/I am from makes me afraid. I come from/I am from makes me feel that experiences stick and don’t slide off like you might want them to…’

Sara: ‘…“I come from” funny how much I resist this statement, how my mind keeps going in doubles, duals, in two lines at the same time the impulse which comes to me seem like the conventional way of looking at it. It’s no news I don’t want to look at things according to templates but with this simple question or statement ‘I come from’, so many things about how I perceive myself and how I believe others perceive me comes out. So if I look at ‘i am from’ well the next thing is I am from the stars, some sort of hippy statement pops into my mind perhaps we have not given enough time and effort to really go to the bottom of this perhaps I am from myself, the the more interesting question is ‘what am I from?’


Cycle Stories: ‘We are moving…’ Day 11

Charlotte: ‘…We are moving together. coming together. separately again. we are moving towards a common place that we want to share with us with other us with life and self and speak in you and me and we, us moving. making. movie making. maybe. we are moving from this time to another in now from this Hamburg place towards disparate place. when will we move together again? and when we leave what do we take with us? what does it move in us? what we? we are moving….’

Ben: ‘We are moving together, apart, against each other, towards a goal. Each goal separate but still we are together. Move me to where I’m supposed to be otherwise I will not shift, contort, trust, misplaced occasionally. Better to fall on your face. Who needs to stop moving? Every second some part of the body is firing. trying to best itself. It’s purpose for existence….’

Jennifer: ‘…Can we move in opposite directions?  We are moving away from each other, which can be a physical distance but we can also move away from an existing intimacy, leave it to shrivel in the vacuum left by our presence.  Or maybe only one moves away and then is left to nurse this bit of emotional clingingness as it slowly collapses in on itself.  We are moving and moving we are ourselves.  We are moving each other, we are moving ourselves, alone, to make others move in a certain direction…’

Anna: ‘…We are moving towards Charlotte’s 3 hour piece. We are moving with the cranes, they are lifting and landing us. We are moving towards flight. We are moving towards compost. Sometimes we are not moving towards anything. We are moving for a reason, multiple reasons…’

Sara: ‘We are moving through space, through empty black space, no it’s not empty it’s full of glistening shards of stars, light sources, all those things you imagine being inside, filling that big empty! – space. We are moving fast, the wind catching our clothes, they are moving with us in the wind of speed, we are moving and everything around us seems to be still, solitude, solitary space all around us, but we, we are moving, together, laughing, speaking very little, just moving…’

Cycle Stories: Start again… Day 7 cont’d

During our time in Hamburg, I initiated a series of improvisation scores that used the device of ‘start again’ which could be called at a point when someone on the ‘outside’ felt that they desired a change, a shift, a renewal, reset of some sort. Often for me, I called ‘start again’ when I felt that the quality of presence of those moving in the space had got lost a little. it proved interesting and useful as a compositional tool and as a way of encouraging increasing clarity, presence and engagement in every moment of each improvisation.

the following are a few extracts from the writing streams that run alongside these danced scores…

Charlotte: ‘…start again is like, come back. come back to yourself and start again. there is this thing of constantly starting again which makes me feel that i should stay with something for longer. does the interesting ‘thing’ happen when you start again or when you stick?…starting again to come back to me.’

Anna: ‘…To start again is abrupt. To start again. Starting again is to change – renew – to leave behind that which is started. Starting again is to start a new thing but to stop being the old thing. It’s a polite term for a hard thing. To start again is to be able to produce and throw away. Starting again is stopping preciousness…’

Sara: ‘Start again you said, or I wanted to have heard these words. Start again, how could I ever have forgotten, how can I ever forget, I want to forget what is heavy and painful and damaging – well the thing is, – it is not about starting all the heavy things again – it’s about starting the freshness & the simplicity again, as it is when you start again…’

discussing important things. Charlotte and Jennifer outside K3, Hamburg

Jennifer: ‘…Start again is to carry on but with a fresh breath, a slight adjustment of scenery.  Start again start and gain.  I gain in starting again.  To start again is not like a beginning, it doesn’t have the same melody as a return and it really avoids the whole problem of ending…’


Cycle Stories: Tomorrow… Day 7

Extracts from writing streams. And while I’m thinking of it, perhaps a quick note about the writing stream. I give the subject. This must be the start of every sentence. You can change the tense. Occasionally you can break the rules. You must keep writing (you can’t break that rule) 5 mins only. We time it!

Jennifer: ‘…Tomorrow is always just there isn’t it – just lurking around the corner, not here yet, it is like trying to stay ‘present’, thinking about tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a useless rather tempting concept – if I am in each day then all days qualify as today and tomorrow is one of todays that hasn’t todayed yet.  Or maybe it has – actually tomorrow is a concept for something that has already taken place in our heads – I’ve made my plans for tomorrow, tomorrow is already sewn up in today….’

Ben: ‘Tomorrow I will feel lighter, brighter, smarter, closer to the people around me. To what I want to achieve in life. but there is no end to tomorrow so that may never come, but this is not a bad thing or something to be feared. Tomorrow may prove something impossible may happen or I may eat less on a daily basis. Why do we judge the world on what not happened yet? always looking to the future, which repeats the past and yet no one seems to realise it…’

Sara: ‘…Tomorrow I want to be with you. Tomorrow I would like all obstacles that we have today to have melted away, disintegrated into a deeper understanding about ourselves, about us a unit and about how we function together and how we can function together, practically, emotionally, psychologically – tomorrow… i want tomorrow to be now, I want to be with you now, i don’t want to wait, yes i think i have a problem with ‘tomorrow’…’

Jennifer and Ben in Hamburg

Charlotte: ‘…tomorrow I try not to dwell too much in tomorrow. I used to but that was before. now I’m better at pretending to myself that I’m better at being in now and not wishing for tomorrow. pretending, fooling, right word not here – maybe i’ll find it tomorrow. tomorrow that world where I am more than today…’

Anna: ‘…Tomorrow is what we think of when writing of today but we don’t say that, oh no…tomorrow what I will want will be different. To what I want tomorrow today. Tomorrow today becomes yesterday. Tomorrow I will have all that has happened and all that has not yet…Tomorrow’s focus is being becoming and owning being and becoming today…Tomorrow is not living, that is left to today.’

Cycle stories – writing streams: ‘Keeping Going’ Day 6

Excerpts from writing streams

Jennifer: ‘… keep going on being self is a way to keep going. is there only this way? keep going on and on and round and round in circles. i keep going on and often it seems there is no end. i keep on to find the end un-end. what is there is no end?… i keep going on, running out, leaking from the cracks in my personality. a little well spring of words and movement. odd sounds. keep being safe keep being alive…’

Anna: “Keeping going, keep on going, being, be in, be in, keep on. Keeping. Keeping going, going gone. Gone. Keep gone going. Going. going gone. Being. Keeping being in going. Keeping going by being. Keeping going by being. Keep in by going. Keep in through being. Be in by being. In what though! Ahhh. Keep in it. innit. I knit. Not knit. Keeping in it. Do you knit? Being in it by being in it. Being through being. Be involved. Keep in by being involved. Keep involved. Keep being involved, Anna. Anna. Keeping going Anna. Keeping being Anna. Stop writing Anna. Being involved. Engaged. Being engaged. Being being by being engaged Anna. Going . Keeping going Anna. Keeping going engaged Anna. Anna is engage. Don’t disengage.”


Charlotte: ‘keeping going, keeping being. keep on being. Being in. Being there. Being me. Being present without the thinking about being. Less time space for thinking more going being. Keeping on is the way of forwards backwards non thinking…And what about being whilst watching. the I can’t be wishing for anything if I am truly being. Keep on going with being with what I am seeing now and now and now. this now, not tomorrow’s now. Being with these people – this Jennifer and Tom and Anna and Ben and being me with them. with less judging and more me-ness of now and now and not what was then…’

Ben: ‘…Death is the end of being …but its not because the cells that are decomposing are still evolving and becoming something new. To be, is to refresh the system constantly second by second but this could lead you to distraction and to be distracted by the world is to be a part of momentum which is itself being.’

After thoughts – ‘The Nature of Things’: what happened? what did I make?

I’ve been wanting to write  something about ‘The Nature of Things’ for the past month. Longer in fact. And i’ve been avoiding it. Sometimes in spare moments I arrange a few sentences of thoughts in my head, but then I never put them down on paper, or find enough of an order for them. How did the work start? What did it become? How did it take the shape that it did and why? Was I satisfied in the end and if so, what was I satisfied by? A lot of questions! And a struggle to find a linear, linguistic form that gives just credit to what I think the project created: both in terms of the process and at the final product.

And perhaps this struggle comes in part because ‘The Nature of Things’ is circular, cyclical, interwoven. I like lines, and we played with them a lot, indeed there is whole section that looks at this idea of line – departing from, returning to, falling out of, launching back into, re-organising, re-finding this line. And yet the work as a whole, as a being, as an organism, as an illustration of Time, presents an understanding that is far from linear . No start or end points. More being. And so this dilemma, but desire to write, reminds me of Jennifer’s difficulty with starting. And in the end I realise I can enter almost anywhere!

I return to the programme notes that I wrote for the Premiere in Eastleigh, because I think they provide a context, and an invitation to the viewing that I encouraged:

‘I invite you to let the performance seep into you – to engage with how it makes you feel. Whatever your experience is, it is the right experience – however similar or radically different it might be to the person next to you.

The initial impetus for this work came from a book called ‘Li’ by David Wade that Jennifer gave me on a train on our way back from rehearsals in Dublin in 2010. It takes the Chinese term ‘li’ (‘form’) and applies it to naturally occurring living patterns, such as branching and spiral forms; erosion and aggregation processes. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with this – to investigate choreographic structures that create these patterns – how are they established? what happens when they are put under pressure? how does change happen?

In order to present the alive nature of these ideas about patterning, I felt it was necessary for the performers to make live choices about how the piece unfolds. And so I recognised how important it was for them to communicate clearly with each other. I was also keen for the work to be personal and relational; not solely caught up in mathematics, so that the performers can embody these concepts, not to represent, but to re-encounter the natural world through dance and sound. As the work developed, it became increasingly about the individuals themselves: about how they share the space, and the ideas; about how they negotiate these patterns and structures as human, feeling people, rather than artificial simulation.

For me, The Nature of Things is full of circles and spirals, wind blowing across long grass in open fields, birds flying. It is about Jennifer, Tom, Petra, Gavin and Tom working together to organise and re-organise themselves in an expansive landscape of movement and sound.’

So, let me unpack a little further: I started with maps and tasks and formulas that I wanted to use as choreography. I started mostly in the head but with a desire to move into the heart. I think that the head thoughts provided a ‘way in’, a reason to move and a place to return to if we felt we were losing our way – gave us something concrete to talk about. Natural patterns, organisation and re-organisation, spirals and branches. This eroding, transforming, becoming something else. Systems. Orders. New orders. maths and logic. And then comes chaos, complexity theories, fractals and scale and realising that anyways these patterns are in us and with us because we are part of (not separate from) these universal systems.  Perhaps what we create exposes them more (or less), makes them more visible, a more direct commentary. But even when this is not the case, I enjoyed realising that this patterning was always going to be present/inherent on a macro (and actually micro!) scale.

Jennifer recently sent me some new notes on chaos and scale and so there will be more on this later (the next entry I think). .. In very general terms, The Nature of Things aligns itself much more readily with current understandings of natural patterns emerging, transforming, erupting by ordered disorder – the governance of chaos and complexity theory: “Over and over again, the world displays a regular irregularity”  James Gleick

And so as the programme notes imply,  I moved/we all moved away from the head and more towards the heart. The Nature of Things became as much as anything about Jennifer and Tom and Petra and Gavin and Tom. Their relationships with each other, with the space, with me. Was that enough? I think so. And still the spirals and the birds and the circles, cycles, morphing, transforming, alive decisions were tightly embedded/ woven into the fabric of the heart of the work and I think that the people who saw it shared in that.

They felt part of the world. Part of the outdoors. They felt that it was light and white. Spacious. They could feel the wind and the circles and the great flapping of wings. What more could I ask than that they felt these wonderful things.

It is always tricky to quantify the reach of any work. How much did it change things for the people that it touched? If part of the aim of the project was to make a contribution towards the breadth of work that raises awareness about the environment, climate change and our engagement with the natural world around us, how far did it manage that? I am inclined not to try and analyse this too deeply in terms of absolute numbers. What I do know (from people who wrote to me personally, spoke to me, spoke to others), is that the work did touch and continues to touch and to live.

I continue to be surprised by people approaching me to say how much they were touched by the piece. It is encouraging. I like to view this touch like a rain drop falling into a large lake – the water it touches ripples out to the next spaces of water and the next and the next until that ever expanding ripple is absorbed into and has contributed to the whole.

The process touched the people who engaged with it directly. That changes their interactions with other people that they meet and touch and so on and so on, and this is how the world changes!  And yes, it is both small and simple and absolutely huge and totally epic!

The quotes that follow are here not to big up me and what I /we did, but rather to give a flavour of the range of (written) responses that I have received from colleagues, audience members, collaborators. In moments when I lose the energy and conviction to push for the work to be seen more, to share it with more people, these comments remind me that we have something important (dare I even say crucial?!) to share.

‘I heard sea, sand, wind, breeze, clouds, waterfalls, rustling of leaves, things growing up and wilting down.’

‘What I love about your work is that you hold me in the moment. Give me long enough to see inside the dancers and want to know more. To be engaged in them as individuals and their relationships between each other.’

‘I saw something beautiful and elemental. Made you want to join in. With the breath and the wind. Stillness rushing, swirling – closeness – apartness – wonderful sounds.’

“the connection between dancers and space is really seamless, they´re somehow of the space rather than in it. And of each other somehow too. Integration is happening. It´s smooth. In a thick way that´s also transparent. I want to see more. I want to know what happens next. They´re beautiful movers, really, but you see the integrity of the work – they´re in the same place. They look like the way I want my relationships to be.” Alex Swain

“I felt inspired to see beautiful dancers moving with a coolness that in my opinion comes with being at a place where you are beyond impressing or finding tricks (not that they weren’t impressive). It was a real treat to see and feel…it made me feel in my own body…” Carrie Whittaker – Lila Dance

Jennifer: ‘From my situated perspective as a mover, I find it difficult to imagine, and indeed, have had little experience of, a richer environment.  This has a great deal to do with the particular resonance and chemistry Charlotte and I share, whereby much of the communication takes place intuitively.  Still, the atmosphere is one in which I thrive.  Mutual trust, shared ethos and aesthetics and a valuing of process inside and as product all contribute to this.  I feel that my particular talents and skills are both respected and challenged in a very vital way, that my sensibility and perception as a mover is woven into the work that emerges and is itself changed over the course of it.  In a highly changeable and disposable global economy, I feel my worth as an individual artist through the work, both as it is created and in the performances of what is created.’