A present for the past – 15th November

A Present for the Past 1942 by Gordon Onslow-Ford 1912-2003

It was actually not easy to prepare the session as my understanding of openlabbing is to share, practice and explore in a mutually supportive environment. But since I took on the position of facilitating, I wanted to set a framework that offered structure and freedom staying at the same time within my own field of interest. I then set a context as a starting point for each individual to expand on. The specificity was directed towards the intention and the content we were researching, not the method, form or aesthetics. After moving through an improvisation score, we began an investigation into the notion of our history, truth, sense of time, being alone and being with others. We questioned the many aspects of our experience that had just been, such as how repetition affected out performing self, how we related to our sense of truth when we noticed the boundary between our performance and representation began to blur. As much as I felt the need to participate in the activities, I was compelled (and extremely privileged) to witness a creative process being transformed into pathways that connect our somatic awareness and the creative impulse.

What if the swindlers are actually weavers? — OPENLAB session on Friday, 22 November 2013


Today we were: Susan Kempster, Tara Pilbrow, Alina Popa, Thelma Sharma, Bea Theiler and myself. We gather around a circle, sitting on a platform made of aikido mats to protect us from the cold floor at Chisenhale’s small studio, whilst I read aloud Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes (I read it from this translation in: http://www.hca.gilead.org.il/emperor.html).

I tried to have another go, in a different way, to the session I facilitated earlier this month but adding the twist of Andersen’s tale this time. Once I read it and without entering to analyse the moral of the story, I asked “what if the detail in the story are inverted?” Something like: 1) the swindlers are really weavers, 2) nobody sees because they don’t [yet] understand and 3) the kid who points the emperor in the end of the tale says: “look, it is really a precious and colourful cloth made with the most wonderful threads forming the most unexpected patterns!!!”

I’m not suggesting to change the tale (it is wonderful as it is) but it seems to me that the paradox emerging from accepting both versions could be a very interested one…in the Andersen’s version people proof themselves stupid for being ashamed of being honest and admit they can’t see, but if the swindler were real weavers, disregarding their cloth as just a myth will prevent us from see it ever. Maybe a mid-place position towards it would be a more interesting one. Maybe we won’t see the clothes we were promised but something totally different and unexpected.

Following this logic and after practicing some authentic movement, and variations of the form with open eyes and simultaneous moving-talking being watched, and watching-talking whilst witnessing I ask people to come in and out of the space and try to have the  binomial question “what do I do?/ what do they see me doing?” both whilst moving in the space and watching others move. Andersen’s story and its antithesis seem to place us in a perfect place to let go from the binomial question and the conflicts between the possible binomial answers, at the same time that letting go is not synonym of fading it into oblivion.

Reflections and decisions: OPENLAB session on Friday 8 November 2013


Leading the session on Friday 8th November, I was interested in looking at what happens in our mind while performing, making or improvising.  Therefore I suggested working with a series of reflective ways and seeing what that makes to our performance and how it affects the decisions we make.  We used reflection upon reflection upon reflection upon reflection…  We reflected while acting (doing/moving), and then we reflected (by writing or talking) on what we acted, and then we reflected (by writing or doing/moving) on what we had reflected (by writing or doing/moving). We focused on ourselves, we watched, and we were watched.

Collaborative Dance Research Opportunity with Colleen Snell at Movingeast this December


Movingeast is seeking volunteer collaborative artists for a dance research residency to be led by Canadian choreographer, Colleen Snell 2nd – 20thDec. This may be of interest to those keen to gain further experience as part of their professional development in partner work and contact improvisation.

Potential collaborators should preferably be available for the whole period. The Research Residency will take place at Movingeast 10am – 5pm every day Mon – Fri. We understand that some people may have part-time work commitments and are willing to negotiate around these.

Anyone interested should send a short email to: colleen.snell@sympatico.ca, introducing themselves, stating clearly their availability and attaching their CV.

I would appreciate it if you would forward this message to the appropriate contacts.

Many thanks,

Colleen Snell & Paul Douglas (Director, Movingeast)

OPENLAB session on Friday 1 November 2013

Antonio laying down blindfolded

Photo by Eleanor Sikorski

Things don’t always quite work the way you have planned them…

I have planned a session entirely based on couples working together, alternating the role they are performing. As it happened, we were only 3 people: Manou Koreman, Jan Lee and I.

I have planned to be a stopwatch bitch and keep timings tight. As it happened, I have arrived late after our daily commuting crisis and I was so tired that couldn’t even keep tight by inner mental wanderings.

I have planned. So well I thought I have planned it. As it happened, while I’m facilitating the season the order of events, the instructions, etc. seemed to be so inappropriate.

I promised a session connecting the concept of ‘space’ with the concept of ‘visibility’ and I can’t tell if I delivered what I have said I would.

Time to reflect then… I see the potential, but more planning will be required… I am curious about knowing more about what the other two experience beside this technical side of facilitating a session.

I won’t talk about what we did as I will have another chance to facilitate this session on Friday 22 November. This time I will allow myself to be satisfied with what the session is… for this reason I don’t promise anything. ‘Space’ and ‘visibility’ will continue to be my inspiration; inspiration but that’s it.