Climbing Out Of The Box
I really enjoy the fact that what I do is not easily defined and I love the way my work merges and blends with others. I regularly collaborate with artists, researchers, thinkers and activists from a wide array of disciplines. I have never limited myself or defined myself by a particular label, others seem to do that for me! True my work is about embodiment....the business of being in a body.....but last time I looked we all had one of those!
Those of us who work in the field of dance and movement however are more than most put in a box - " Twirlies" "Prancers" " Touchy feely types". We are seldom considered to be part of the broader world of those who research, those with "a practice" those who are deeply serious and seriously deep. This has to some extent amused me and made me think about the label "academic", particularly when research/academia can be presented in a similarly limiting way as a mainly head based, head down activity .
I am continuing to have a wondrous yet ponderous time as a Leverhulme artist in residency at Newcastle University. I have had and continue to have intriguing conversations and not surprisingly a recurrent theme is research.
What exactly constitutes research and who is it for and who does it benefit? What happens when the very words used to describe what you research are so rarefied as to make most people feel excluded and well ...turned off instead of on. How did the research academic speak evolve and why?
The creation and appreciation of line and of texture, a nuanced sense of space and time and a playful attitude toward gravity are all part of my tool kit or palette. My communication when making choreography , inviting public happenings or eliciting responses from participants is always drawn from a rich vocabulary steeped in imagery, in memory, in connection and somatic sensation but the whole purpose is to make known, to reveal and to invite the sharing of experience. Often within my field of work words fail to express what it is that is experienced . Actions really can speak louder than words particularly in the communities where I work where being talked about or at is met with a withering attitude. My practice is therefore highly practical! It has developed and grown through and with the people that I work with looking to find the means by which change can happen.
Doing a bit of scouting about also known as (light) reading around my subject area I did come upon this
"It is an approach which offers anthropo-situated while posthumanist discussions of human embodiment and agency and focuses on the quotidian corpomaterial and corpo-affective practices as political matters."
Apparently this approach has some commonality with what I do and I heartily thank the "academics" who helped translate the above for me! It saved me having to do a lot of reading to find out what it meant and you know reading can sometimes lead you away from the actual experience of being here now. Check out this lest you become squashed by the need to read everything!
How we relate to each other, how our creative impulses and interests drive us to make work, to write, research and talk about what we do should lead us to seek connection/communion with others. Surely that is the important bit, forget about the labels and the boxes and conventions. This week I was questioned about "the relevance of bringing such young children into a university" I was both stunned and upset by such an attitude although thankfully I do think/hope this " gentleman" is in the minority.
Perhaps the temporary inconvenience of a child cartwheeling through a space shook the foundations of his sense of belonging and privilege?
It is vitally important that we don't box each other in or let our institutions, disciplines, roles, ages, and positions divide us and limit us. My residency is all about participation about bringing people into the University, to wonder and wander within and without it and to feel welcome to ask questions with or without words.
A gleeful , spontaneous cartwheel through a space unwittingly posed a critical question about space and place and power. Perhaps this buoyant cartwheeling eight year old was beginning her research project .......or a revolution?
Play - apparently it's the highest form of research, I heartily recommend it