I have been thinking about my methodological approach for studying solo performance practice and, so far, I can see that to seek oneself through examination of behaviours within solo practice requires a dual methodology; practice-led research and autoethnography. My experiential understanding suggests that when one undertakes “practice-led research”, particularly in the form of solo work, where the self is integral to the practice, the research becomes autoethnographic by default. For instance,

In practice-led research the practice might be under scrutiny to gain understanding as to how the self becomes apparent in the movement; can movement show self? Another question might be based on what particular creative method allowed you to see your self in the movement? How does your body respond to autobiographical tasks? Or, to flip attention to audience, you might “practice” to find out what tensions arise from a reduced proximity between the audience and your body.

In autoethnographic research, the self is being brought to the fore, studied, analysed within a particular culture (the solo practice); here, you may focus your own responses from having your body viewed in motion? How do you feel when you perform the dance? What happens to your performance when your work has been viewed by audiences in comparison to rehearsal?

In both instances, the practice or culture (the practice), you will almost always be forced to reflect upon who you are as a person and why you have made the decisions you have made. For instance, if I look at all the work I do with regards to objectification and power, I see that I am deeply curious about what it takes to feel powerful inside and outside of the domain of performance, how the notion of power can be both physically and emotionally manipulated to express agency in performance, and, finally, what objects can be called upon to impact that process.

All of the questions above can overlap between the methodologies, as can the methods for data collection; video documentation, journal entry, peer review, survey or dialogue with audiences. The methods of data collection will triangulate data to produce objectivity, so, although seemingly a solo process at first, a practice-led and autoethnographic process will eventually requires the voice of others, via engaging with peers or audiences.

What I am Reading

Revisiting The Explicit Body in Performance as it offers so much in terms of erotic art, performance art and how sex workers who have used their body to create art. Much reference is made to the work of Annie Sprinkle and Carolee Schneeman. What is most fascinating is the underlining of how spectators engage with the explicit body in performance. When a spectator gazes upon the body of a female performer who overtly conveys messages through her body, the objectified gaze of the audience member is projected right back at them, provoking an internal dialogue of their own. A clear example of this is when audiences were invited to look at Annie Sprinkles vulva through a speculum with a flash light. Those who participated were left wondering if it was ok or normal, right or wrong to see a woman in such closeness. Whether it is right or wrong is subjective to each person, their cultural background and their experiences of viewing women in (non) artistic contexts.

What I am watching

Building blocks for devising by Frantic Assembly – a short, but very useful way to develop duet choreography.

What I am listening to

I am listening to specific song is Ritual by Massive Attack. I choreographed a contemporary pole dance to this for one of my workshops and have being using it for warm up improvisations. Also enjoy anything by Philip Glass for writing.

Rowena x

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