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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