If you were ever in search of a choreographer who can push the boundaries of an aesthetic in dance, Marie Chounaird is your woman. Her work “Body Remix” (2005) expresses the physical pain that is hidden behind the beauty of dance. The radical use of objects such as rope, point shoes, horizontal bars, harnesses, and prostheses can either be seen to hinder or liberate movement of the dancers as they navigate their bodies with and around them. Understandably, critics have offered ambivalent reviews about the work, and even though some comments are intended as negative, they actually highlight the work as superior to their thinking. I’ll use Wilkinsons’ comment as an example because it shows her closed view of dancing; “the dancers are extraordinary and do their very best with what little actual dancing they are given”. How does a critic define dance? Anyway, I love Chounairds work because of the fact that it doesn’t prescribe to dance expectations, but goes above and beyond instead.
The Artist Way
Through several recommendations, I am currently reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It is essentially a self-help book that takes you through a course in discovering and recovering your creative self. From the get go, Cameron sets readers the task of writing “morning notes”, whereby you write daily, without editing or self-censoring. My first thought from this was “great, I already do morning writing” and my second though was about how essential these notes have been to my solo practice and autobiographical performance. Cameron posits:
“Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet self-expression. We becomes original because we becomes something specific: an origin from which work flows.” (p. 82)
If art lies in the moment of encounter, then we really have to uncover the ways in which we are willing to really meet ourselves. I meet myself through movement. Movement that emerges through the practice of messy, unedited and authentic writing. What’s most fascinating about this is that, even though I have been practicing daily writing for the past two years, as directed by Isaiah Hankel in “Black Hole Focus” and several other authors, I never really understood how this relationship worked until now. I guess it is because Cameron writes through the lens of an artist.
Once completed, I’ll do a full review of this book.
Relevant to looking at the world through the lens of an artist, I have been thinking about how we can not only uncover more about self throughout the creative process, but how we can also access higher academic thinking through performance. In search of some answers, I watched a TED presentation by Gordon Poad, who discusses Practice-Led Research and how his company, Cap-a-Pie Theatre, is built on an exchange of theatre making and academia. He believes that researchers and young people, who have no experience in study, or a lot, can access deeper thinking through play, experimental theatre games and devising methods. He supports this by offering an example as to how the impact of the creative process has enhanced and altered the direction of a social geographers’ thesis. The geographer’s new-found ability to look at the research through a different lens allowed him to remain objective and to present the findings of the study in a way that is accessible to wider audiences, instead of only sharing to those who are academically inclined to social science. I can certainly confirm that my performances, based on topics such as empowerment and objectification, have engaged wider audiences, thus encourging many more questions. If you’re a researcher, consider hiring a choreographer to expose and highlight some of your themes. Their lens will add more objectivity to your research and could illuminate new ideas and solutions to unsolved problems.
I’ll be back next week with more to share, but in the meantime, you can see my daily updates by following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook