hinterlands – body/environment workshop created and run by Ailsa Richardson

Workshop created and run by Ailsa Richardson

May 2012 at Penpynfarch creative retreat centre www.penpynfarch.co.uk

My intention for this workshop was to explore and widen awareness of the intersections between bodies and environments. The environment here includes other bodies as well as the natural-managed environments we move through and are placed within. I was also attempting to find an integration of three practices which I wanted to utilise/share/offer to this end. This integration is becoming a practice focussed on strategies for the investigation of the ‘inter-sections’, the in-between, the shared surfaces and places of touching of bodies and environments.

One of these strategies is a seeking/hunting of correspondences (or co-respondances). Another is the interplay between belonging and displacement, between familiarity and unfamiliarity. This strategy of interplay inherently necessitates a disrupting of habit, of our habitual modes of sensing, moving, perceiving. The three practices are the ‘groundwork’ and philosophical approach of Bodyweather, the collaborative structures and approaches of Goat Island Performance Group and inhabiting of some specific places on the Movement Medicine ‘map’.

The site consists of a steep sided wooded valley with a small river. The woodland is varied, mostly deciduous on one side of the valley and old coniferous plantation (with its typical barren-ness of vegetation on the forest floor) on the other. There is a small lake a short way down the valley and some meadow land in the base of the valley and a few fields around and above the house and buildings. These fields were inhabited by a group of young Icelandic ponies whilst we were there.
There is a spring and a cottage ruin in the woods and the path of an old mill leat runs parallel to the river and there remain many other hidden secrets to discover. There are also the traces of many previous dance and performance investigations and workshops. The buildings and land (including a small and beautifully formed dance studio/barn conversion) have been beautifully restored and cared for with a high regard for sustainbility by Eeva and Andy who have lived there with their family for 10 years.

Memory fragments (facilitator POV):

Four bodies are deeply engaged, each in their own movement exploration, a soundscape cross fades from inside recorded music to the outside’s live score and back again as Icelandic ponies run through the frame of the high barn window.

A walking blindfolded man finds the measure of an overhanging bough, the upright body perfectly measuring the height and the top of the head touching the bough. He smiles.

She sinks her hands and weight deep into the moss : tears come at the memory of it,  “it’s like coming home”.

A small damsel fly has alighted on the back of her hand and travels with her without her knowledge.

A walking man drags a branch behind him, later he gently hangs its branches with grasses.

A woman clenches her fist around a bramble stalk, she has her eyes closed and turns her head away sharply, followed by fast, blurred repetitions of turning towards and away.

Another woman’s body, her arms flow(er)ing above her head, appears to continue the falling and curving toward earth of the branches of a willow tree.

The green, undisturbed grass on the promontory by the lake.

There is only the movement of a body of water beneath my feet, one body of water balancing on another body of water, I feel the surface tension of changing water body shape, a rolling back and fore yet not over…yet.

A single fresh green leaved sapling grows from the wall of a ruined cottage, the only deciduous growth in the dark dankness of the tall thin conifers.

She leans her weight out from one of these tall thin trunks – she is feeling for the motion of the trunk from the wind in the high branches, is it really there or beyond the reaches of perception? What we see and expect may not be what we can feel through touch. Where is the reach of our senses and sensitivity?

“I had a bit of an epiphany” (oberving the left and right sides of the body in ‘bisoku’/1mm per second walking)

The particular ‘song’ of  one foot square of the river near the footbridge. Can we use a quadrant for sound sampling?

Being led without words and having three visual frames in the landscape revealed to me.
First frame: foreground - the uprooted earth and roots of two trees, middle ground - the rusted metal frames of two children’s chairs facing me, a few feet apart, and the fallen, straight tree trunks on either side angled towards one another and receding into the distance -  bright, green forest and filtered sunlight.

A few testimonials from participants:

Above and beyond the fact that it was glorious to move freely in a wonderful environment, Ailsa Richardson's leadership really made this weekend for me. Ailsa was able to nuance her approach and tailor activities according to the evolving needs of the group: I really appreciated this. I thoroughly recommend her Movement Medicine workshop!

The Hinterlands workshop in West Wales was absolutely brilliant. The location and venue were beautiful and perfect for the purpose of wandering, exploring, investigating - both our inner landscapes and the external one. Ailsa held a beautiful space for us throughout ...  it was a transformative experience and one which left me energised, enthused, and feeling centered in my body and in my world. 

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performance colaborativa e vídeo
collaborative performance and video


Video: Marcelo Monteiro
Collaborative Performance: Carla Vendramin, Cibele Sastre, Darjá Cardoso, Luis Gutierrez, Marcelo Monteiro, Tatiana da Rosa e Vanessa Berg.

30th March 2012 at Estúdio Hybrido
Porto Alegre

foto Marcelo Monteiro

foto Felipe Gaieski

foto Felipe Gaieski
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Oficina no Centro Meme e Parque da Redenção em Porto Alegre, Workshop in the Meme Centre and Rendenção Park in Porto Alegre Brasil

Oficina no Centro Meme e Parque da Redenção em Porto Alegre, facilitado por Carla Vendramin - Janeiro 2012.

Workshop in the Meme Centre and Rendenção Park in Porto Alegre - facilitated by Carla Vendramin - January 2012.


Gabriela Canale
Indiara de Souza
Josiane Franken 
Julia Duda
Letícia Coelho
Paulo Guimarães

O ambiente modifica o corpo... experimentando as suas propriedades, usando os sentidos, estando atendo à percepção e definindo parâmetros específicos de trabalho.

The environment modifies the body... experiencing its properties, using the senses, being attentive to the perception and defining specific parameters to work with.

Moving Walls and Rolling Floor
How does the body moves from the kinestesic outside input related to a specific arquitecture?

Paredes Móveis e Chão Rolante
Como o corpo se move a partir de um input cinestésico de fora relacionado a uma arquitetura específica ?


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experiências no parque da redenção - "never ever be the censor"

"never ever be the censor" imagens de Letícia Castilhos. Edição de Gabriela.
publicada originalmente em Multigraphias.
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Improvisation Laboratory

It's been a week now since the end of the intensive impro lab. I am still thinking about what happened and will be updating the linked blog with more as I go. For now, a video still.
This is me in scaffolding being used in the daytimes to re-tuck-point the Fremantle Arts Centre - a convict built ex-asylum.
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Marnie Orr and Rachel Sweeney

body | land | relation

Immersive Physical Laboratory for dance and visual artists

Adaptation took place in Dartmoor National Park between 6-11 April 2010. Adaptation was a residential intensive for professional dance and visual artists, exploring immersive approaches to site based movement and visual performance practices.

Facilitated by ROCKface interdisciplinary performance research collective, Marnie Orr and Rachel Sweeney. Using body mapping | micro and macro site exploration | topographic movement training, and durational inhabitation processes, they steer an interdisciplinary performance investigation into perception, proprioception and perspective, exploring the relationship of body and land.

Morning research in the studio

Guided walk with Dartmoor Geographer Willem Montagne
Photo Carla Vendramin

Performer Llewyn Maire / Photo Carla Vendramin

Performer Carla Vendramin / Photo Rachel Sweeney

Performer Rachel Sweeney/ Photo Marnie Orr

Performers Lisa Newman and Manuel Vason
Photo Llewyn Maire

Performer Lisa Newman / Photo Llewyn Maire

Performer Katie Etheridge / Photo Carla Vendramin

Performer Marnie Orr / Photo Carla Vendramin

Performer Marnie Orr / Photo Michelle Outram

Performer Carla Vendramin / Photo Manuel Vason

Performer Michelle Outram / Photo Manuel Vason
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SL Warm-Up: Stretching the Iliopsoas and Piriformis muscles

The piriformis and iliopsoas are two muscles often hard to access by basic stretching and exercise. When tight, both muscles independently have been known to exacerbate or be responsible for sciatic pain and/or lower back pain.

The standing stretches outlined below enable deep access into the pelvis and free up the spine, making the series an ideal lead-in for Bodyweather MB training. Although this standing stretches series can be exercised on their own, they are most effective as the final of a number of series that make up the full 'SL Warm-Up'.

The SL Warm-Up was developed by Stuart Lynch (hence, 'SL'). Stuart Lynch is a Bodyweather practitioner and theatre director in Copenhagen. I trained and performed under Stuart in Sydney 1999 alongside Tess de Quincey, as well as on a couple of short intensives in Europe.

The standing stretches directly engage the iliopsoas (major psoas) and piriformis muscles, and with regular application enable a deep opening of the hip joints. Working these muscles in an MB preparation situates the body as extremely available, enabling the individual to work strongly but safely in the MB.

Standing stretches series:
the front and back thigh muscle stretches, are stretched with the following poses:
1. Bring the right knee toward the chest to take the ankle in the right hand. Working in alignment as much as comfortable, swing the tightly bent knee to the back of the body. Draw the calf in toward the back of the thigh by gripping the left hand
over the top of the right hand's grip on the top of the foot. Keep the knees together. Draw the shoulder blades toward each other, but keep the sternum soft (receding). Breathe.
2. Swing the right knee to infron of the body, and draw it toward the centre of the chest, cradled in the right arm’s inner elbow. With the left hand on the shin, further draw the leg across the chest and increase the stretch. Hold and breathe. Make sure the pelvis stays level and aligned.
3. Water Skier – Draw the pelvis forward as you move the right arm around the knee to grip the shin from above. This will release the right knee away from the body somewhat, until the shin sits horizontally. Hold with shoulders down, chest open. Gaze is 45degrees above horizon.
4. Slide the right hand grip down the leg to take the left ankle with the left hand from underneath. Turn the foot out to expose the underside of the foot as much as possible. The foot is sitting high on the thigh of the standing leg. Release the right leg. Hold and breathe.
5. Use your right thumb and finger tips to give a dynamic pressure to each toe individually (on the inhalation only). Start on the upside and work through the toes, then continue on the underside. Release the toe stretch on the exhalation before starting on the next toe.
6. As you bend your standing knee, slide the right foot down the standing thigh to sit above the left knee. Give a dynamic pressure (on the inhalation only) by placing the right hand on the seat of the inner knee. You may wish to increase the stretch by bending forward closer to the knee and using the right elbow on the right knee instead. Release and swap legs.
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'Slant' on 10/09/09

Julie Cleves, Carla Vendramin and Kimberley Harvey

the ceiling on my feet

my feet escape sideways

and my arms now oppose ceiling and floor

change points of reference

again and again

until even gravity could appear to happen in different directions

until it is just an arbitrary decision

wishing to be a non-decision

wishing to share power within space

and between our bodies

Carla Vendramin

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My artistic collaborator Deborah Black and I are beginning work on a new Dry Earth production, Childress. In this work we will be simultaneously presenting the embodied ecology of a small North Texas town (USA) AND the story of a young couple starting out their lives together during the time of the Great American Dust Bowl.

In our last rehearsal, Deborah mentioned her interest in exploring the methods used by the impressionists, and translating them into movement practices. The Wikipedia entry for Impressionism alone has stirred my excitement in this research direction:

Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles.

I will report back on what scores/practices/discoveries/frustrations come of this.
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Encounters within my process...

by Carla Vendramin

I arrived in Llandecwyn – Wales for the body weather workshop 11-17 June/09, stunned by the beautiful landscape! The workshop was a great opportunity to find space to delve a bit more into processing my work, my dance, my training, my life. We went through a series of walks and experienced a series of proposals led by Frank. We also had, every day, a moment allocated to developing a personal project. My personal project was an encounter(s) with a tree(s). It is something that I was already attempting to research but just hadn't yet had the time and conditions to fully start. I was also thinking about what I refer to when I say that I work within a 'notion of corporality'. So what clearly am I referring to? I refer to corporality as what my body processes, retains and loses; the body's fluxes of information processed by the living, moving and sensory experience in association with the assimilation and response to the environment. Corporality includes one's, identity, culture, history, memory and, obviously, this is present either in a performance, training or daily life experience. A notion of corporality is to acknowledge that my training and performative body is not dissociated from my daily body and so my work happens through all these three situations. This is a philosophical foundation of my work but is this a visible practice? Is it visible in a performance as much as it is in training or daily life situations?

photo by Carla Vendramin

body/landscape workshop - Wales /June 2009
Led by Frank Van de Ven

Day 1
Walk to studio
Breathing – studio, 10 minutes to observe and lead breathing to parts of body (solo and in pairs)
Open circle - studio
Bag of bones - studio
Slow movement
Walk back home
Work on Personal Project (PP)

PP day 1 : walking on top of the wall
− surfaces: uneven and moving, element of risk
− trust: trust that the body will sort out whatever it needs to do
− falling: - oscillating: work on breathing and internal organs
- muscle tension: holding and letting go, oscillating

photo by Lucy Turner

Day 2
Walk in silence
Walk inside a river
Breathing – on hill
Joints proposal – on hill: (duets) to move up to 6 joints at the time in various directions – point to joint to move / brush to stop. How do you concentrate? How do your patterns happen?
Bag of bones – on hill: empting out / recognition of tensions and of the ability or inability to go deep into the body.
Walk and talk about PP in duets
Practice PP
Walk back home

PP day 2: On the Pine Tree
Discussing and practising the PP in duets (Lucy and me)
I went to a Pine tree and hanged on its branches in upside down position.
My questions:
− How to share? My body and the tree's body having the same importance.
− How to meet the tree and not force onto it?
− I realised that I needed to find out how to start. To encounter the tree and not to go directly to extreme positions, like going upside down.

photo by Lucy Turner

Day 3
Walk in silence
Slow Movement
Personal Project (PP)
Walk back home through a path along the river

PP day 3: Walk on the wall
My body moves by accessing slow movement, moving joints separately, my feet meet the rocks, the surfaces of the wall, memory, wind, memory of the trees in a park in Prague, there is a sheep on a rock like me, I felt the strength of my body balancing on the wall, my body is alive and I fell being alive, contracting-releasing, sorting out the next position without planing or directing to do it, letting the weather and landscape properties move me.
− I worked on continuous slow movement - Should I change rhythm and speed in order to challenge my patterns?

' The memory-image passes, by a dynamic progress, into the perception in which it becomes actual'.
Henri Bergson (Matter and Memory – Dover Publications, New York)

photo by Sarah Hopfinger

Day 4
Walk in silence
MB in the studio
Swimming in the lake
Walk back home
Breathing in duets – lie, stand, walk
Work with a string in duets
Personal Project

PP day 4: blindfold experience, led by Lisa
Experiencing texture and movement through Lisa's proposal with blindfolded eyes.

photo by Carla Vendramin

Day 5
Walk in silence
Bag of bones
Slow Movement in duets – one observes
Walk towards the estuary
Walk back home – lots of sheep field in the day
Personal Project (PP)
Peter Snow arrived today. He is a professor in Communication & Performances Studies – Monash – Melbourne/ AUS, he was in Min Tanaka's body weather group when Frank was and he writes about body weather. He gave a talk/lecture and we had good discussions after dinner.

PP day 5: writing about my process...
I create structure within the language and aesthetics that I choose. The structure establishes patterns that I choose. Any structure tends to fix patterns. It's a constant work the one of recognizing patterns, changing them or not to change them – and to confront with possibilities and impossibilities... building patterns through repetition and self imprisoning through repetition. The question of 'how to access' is constantly present. To access perception is always accompanied by doubt, and again repetition. How to access also turns to the question of 'how to communicate'. And how to communicate to access one's external world, in opposition to internal isolation? The question seems to go back to 'how do I perceive?', to try to understand the world with more clarity. My patterns interfere in this process because they predetermine how I communicate and perceive the world. Fixed patterns determine identity, form, structure and fixed patterns give comfort. To change patterns can bring an uncomfortable sensation, uneasy and unsure. Judgement. How to discover something new? How to go out from a pattern? Or to be creating another pattern? De-satisfaction comes with expectation...... There are the things I know about myself, about my body, about my patterns of movement and behaviour (which are also established by identity). There are the things I think that I know (but ???) . And there are the things I don't know. Dialogues of me and me!!!

' That is to say pure perception exists only in theory, in fact it is always mixed with affection'.
Henri Bergson
(Matter and Memory – Dover Publications, New York)

Day 6
Walk in silence
Open circle
Bag of bones
Be moved by the other – group of 4 people
Be moved by the other using memory from previous proposal – in duet, one observes
To disappear – in duet
Walk – meet the horses on the hill
Walk back home
Work on Personal Project
Presentation of personal projects: Dagmara, Katie, Krystian, Simone and Neil.
Talks and discussions after dinner get intense. It is great to have Peter with us!

photo by Carla Vendramin

PP Day 6: I found the tree and location to present my PP:
An encounter between a tree's body and my body.
I set the things I was going to work on for the presentation of my PP:

1. Work on the 4 base tasks:
- Working on the corporal physical consistency of skin, bones, muscles and internal organs (breathing and oscillating), in encounter with the tree's body consistency.
- Hanging the body through the action of gravity.
- Working on surfaces, the connections between the tree's body and my body.
- Taking the tree's height as part of the embodiment process of experimenting the tree's properties. Climbing to a certain height and falling from there.

2. First empty out (to start)

3. I thought about setting tasks for the group (audience) ...
− What thoughts and questions would be risen with the work? For me and for the audience?
− Tasks to the audience: walk in silence to go to the location. Make snapshots of moments that, for some reason, you think are relevant. (so snapshots, by camera or memory that can be related to a note).

Day 7
Presentation of Personal projects: Carla, Lisa, Lucy and Sarah.
Personal projects feedbacks
Closing the workshop - 10 minutes of 'immobility'

Presentation of my personal project...

photo by Lucy Turner

Carla in the tree
by Kate Lawrence

Framed by branches
She is captured in wind and rain
Cradled by a tree which rocks her gently
Her body rests against branches
Her face,
eyes closed,
feels the rain and the wind
She slides down branches
Feet and hands curl
How did she get there?
Was she blown by the wind?
I don't think she climbed the tree
Perhaps she has always been there.

photo by Lucy Turner

I got up about 6:30am and walked to the tree's site at about seven. Walking to the tree's site was a way into the work that I was about to start. Through the whole workshop I've been searching for working with specificity and I had specific tasks to work on my personal project. I actually didn't work only specifically on the tasks that I had set before but also incorporated what I had experienced through the workshop (bag of bones, breathing, being moved by the outside...). I also set tasks to the group. They were to meet at 8am and walk in silence to the tree's site, led by Lucy. Meeting at 8am and starting the day with walking in silence was, at that point, our daily routine. I think this maybe meant that the group, on their arrival at the tree's site, was in a state of good connectivity to watch the work.

One bit of feedback I had was that the tree, me and the group became one landscape. Thinking about 'how to access' … not only in this personal project presentation... I think about the interactions between GIVER and RECEIVER in my work. Of course, there are the giver-receiver relationships in some of the body weather activities and in some of the ones Frank proposed. There is the mediation between giver and receiver and what makes them communicate. I also think of a performance situation as a giver and receiver situation. So I try to think about ways in which the audience is, to a certain extent, active. Not being only the receiver, as passive watchers. How does this make for more propitious conditions for connectivity? How do I observe patterns of connectivity and communication? Patterns happen everywhere. From my body to other outsider situations. Into and out from the body. The observation of patterns is key to what I do.

I don't know if a 'notion of corporality' could be seen when I presented my personal project. I don't know if it can be seen clearly in the aesthetic of the work and how my body moves. What I know is that, in order to do my work and therefore that presentation, I had to go through my personal process, which incorporates a 'notion of corporality'.

Back in London, I am still into all these questions, training through my daily life. These are questions that already existed before but that the exercise of questioning again takes further.

photo by Carla Vendramin

Walking my feet on the pavement,
I remember the proprioception of the hills.
I can still be conscious of the pressure of my feet on the ground.
I am conscious of the land shift.
What changes in here...
while I shake inside the tube,
where I don't want to take deep breaths.
Where there is no choice,
there is adaptation,
adaptation and resistance,
and collapsing and adaptation...
as I am alive in this environment.
The city informs and forms my body.

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The Plant! The Plant is upright!

Photograph by Heidrun Löhr of Michelle Outram in 'Language of Loss', Nikki Heywood 2007.

The plant and I. The pile of couches. The floor.
A rosemary bush.

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Transference of Properties - tool for connection

Body: Rachel Sweeney, Dartmoor, Devon UK. Creator: ROCKface (Orr & Sweeney) during Mapping Project, March 2007.

The softness of this environment - the grass between her fingers, the twigs above her head, the only tree for miles, shelters her from the open, wild moor - is reflected in the softness of her cheeks, eyes, mouth, touch. This is the transference of properties.
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You Only Need Your Skeleton ... B O N E S ...

TRE Task 2 - : For Marnie from Carla
Look at the skeleton in relation to the centre. Observe what is the effort of your muscles.

Taken from Feldenkrais:
You can rely on your skeleton to move rather than relying on a muscular action. The format and the connections of the bones with the muscles and ligaments and tendons. So the effort that I make and how I make it. WOrking in training - indoors environment.
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A Meeting of Two Bodies: Me & Tree

TRE Task 2 -
Approach as an encounter between two bodies

Task for Carla whilst at Frank van de Ven Bodyweather choreographic / body|landscape workshop: Focus on continuing work with encounters between tree body and my body

Marnie proposes Carla to focus on the difference and the transition between passiveness and action in terms of the transference of properties between the two bodies.

What are the properties that you engage with?

working on: hanging body,surfaces, climb

how I can work my senses to prepare my body
Based from ROCKface workshop at CCANW - blindfold activity and stamina. My senses were more alive. Physically prepared to work on tree. Risking going higher. Body contact with tree greater, to hang and fall

mix of passivity and activity to fall.
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Transnational Research Exchange - Centre through Muscular Response

Focusing on my centre:
Only yet exploring the question from training sessions in studio.
It was about strength / my power base.
My ability to go where I want. To be versitile in terms of body action.
Could go further - direct - deeper in the movement within MB Bodyweather MB training indoors, not leading
"constantly re-engaging with myself through the centre"
constantly reflection in action - and knowledge in action.
it is a memory
This is an imaging. I cannot see insode myself,
A constant re-collection, many many times a day, moment by moment.

where is your centre?
lower torso

had an early recognition ( as child) of 'requiring' - engaging abdomnals
understood the abdomnals muscle action towards spide / work with breathinh
centre is a movement inwards and outwards
3 points - belly naibow - pelvic floor - alow 3 draws up - triangule
I experienced a full change in my stance.
My recent experience in a training (indoors) environment, I have found I also have this movement around my girdle from the back and up. This as a third movement. Brilliant.
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External Locus of Control - WIND

Body state variations in focusing on the presence of wind. Movement Lab 09. Creator: Marnie Orr. Bodies (L-R):Caitlin McLouglin; Michelle Outram; Justin Morrissey. City Beach, Perth, Australia, Jan-Feb 09.
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