Friday, 12 August 2011

Luisa's final thoughts

Led warm up - feed useful and efficient information.
Passive and active person bodywork, slowly moving into the space shifting from down on the floor to middle and standing levels, using tactility, pushing and release into the floor, connection of tailbone with top of the head.
Exercise from a workshop I did a while back in Sweden - about using the voice, improvising movement while saying a word and continuing with “makes me think of” another word that is an association or a rhyme. I accepted a few interpretations of my directions in order to not stop the flow but also wondered if sticking to the simpler rules would have been more of a challenge and more effective in allowing the mind to surprise us.
Allow the mistakes from myself
I listened to rainstorm, real rain in my view…
Useful chat to help me in the task of a short solo work
Choices made in my life, how much do I want to say, where do I carry this in my body?
4 Miniatures in me

new people in today
received wonderful body work
journey from upstage to downstage with and without text, smooth, fluid and staccato
letting go
challenge to maintain and make choices quickly as I am exploring
we did a sharing that felt like a showing
props are alien to me

structure, conventions….freedom within limitations
Word associations: in twos - botta e risposta, any word
Same thing with words fertility and barren
Then we expressed the associations we remembered.
“It could be “ opened more possibiliites
Really interesting two days.
Work with Wendy has felt productive and clear. Her observations have opened other paths of practice as well as interpretations. Research, testing things, adding and subtracting as a technique and used also as content.
The struggle lending itself to getting spectators engaged…interesting point for me, helpful to allowing things to be explored without having always to achieve something.
Un – employing a performer – also an interesting and useful concept raised.

Fertility in a broader sense – we explored the word fecundity to provide more associations to growth and production.
Folk dance of an imaginary land, we all created our own folk dance and some people described it in words, then we formed groups (male and female separately). We embodied and inhabited the dance and words of others.
Basket of fruits, joy, hip, mountain, dozen
Happy happy happy, digging a hole, tapping the floor
Basque Lullaby sung as a group

Pandora’s box - Myth/tradition, social phenomenon
staging and improvising

I worked with Joanna who joined the research this week, Kip (who came back after one week break, and Scott. We stood around the box for quite some time expressing random thoughts about what to do or just memories of the story, I remembered that in another version I had read Pandora had been given curiosity as well as beauty, persuasion, and voice. Johanna had a very clear memory of monsters, dinosaurs, dreamt I think after coming to know the story as a child, Scott was thinking of the Garden of Eden and Waiting for Godot, Kip mentioned the box being a protagonist
A pair of high heel shoes, a torch and the box.Nobody in our group wanted to enact a director, we imagined a director to be in the box, the box was our hope of something to come. We walked in Butoh style towards the box that was lying centre stage, during which time Kip’s voice from outside the space pronounced the words of a game known to me as “1,2,3 stella” in which one freezes from time to time. The voice (Kip) also commented on our capacity and our commitment, which provided a shift of tone. We arrived at the box, lightning from Scott’s small torch and Johanna’s modelling clay gestures + high heels shoes in space, all alluded to the creation of an imaginary Pandora. We then re-enacted a memory of the conversation which turned into a brief song about not to open the box.

Other representations.
One with two directors (Liz and Rob) giving directions and suggesting lines or posing questions to two performers (Leah and Greig) and a costume and prop and sound maker (Aurora). Another was directed and performed by Fernanda and Janusz who staged a wedding with a piece of cloth that was the woman’s veil, which became a bed sheet/curtain under/behind which Pandora’ s box was made/appeared. The two then have a discussion in Polish and Portuguese about how the box could be opened but shouldn’t. Fernanda is left alone as Januzc proudly walks off having had the upper hand about the box. Fernanda’s tempation to open is visible from her expression and body language, she opens it and all evil comes out, arguments, and rage between the two explodes until a little angel flies out of the box and hope for a better following is restored.
I enjoyed watching this.

Fernanda, Greig, and Scott spoke of their idea of Pandora’s box, Liz undercut this by intervening at different times, interesting juxtaposition - in a surreal way a conversation emerged…hard to sustain the telling without responding to other tellers…this shifted to talking about hope. Fernanda’s positive comments like “hope is the sparkle in the eye” were contradicted by Liz who became the destroyer of that idea, so Fernanda continued on the line of “hope is in all of us, hope is that thing which makes you breathe, hope is colours, hope is positive”, Liz hammered hope “doesn’t exist, it’s an illusion, as you get older you’ll understand, what have you been on? Which planet are you from?”
Holding on to their conviction and yet being engaged in a conversation created an expectation of a change of opinion in the other.

Leah and Joanna…Leah on her own, very special moment when she stood to show how hope could be described in movement – she walked from one side to the other of the space and simply looked out…..

Still a challenge to stay with one response
Barrier of making mistakes less thick
Worked with a few props

A good long day. Useful to hear thoughts about practice of experienced artists, as well as seeing their practice in action. Indeed everyone’s attempts are engaging and it’s actually overwhelming sometimes the creativity that comes out…from simple things a world of imagination springs out.
Today I decided I would try to use props which have been objects best to avoid until now…. and to embody an idea…something about Liz Aggis’ statement of her body being a stage that resonated in me, …. while I was preparing for the idea with the box I imagined that I would use props hidden in the box and nonchalantly throw them out into the open space….but then the idea of transforming myself became more appealing, I had also chosen to read a fairy tale (Parsley Girl by Calvino) and just the fact of reading became a prominent action, perhaps I should have continued in simply reading it, but I did feel I had failed in my objective…although it has also been one of my goals to allow myself to fail “there’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all”.

Parsley girl is a fairy tale about a resourceful woman and that’s the idea I wanted to present or that to stand out: being resourceful. The objective was to try and do that by enacting parts of the story with props, there was also a sexual undertone in the story that I was hoping to embody but the reading impeded movement, perhaps that is something to use and enhance that struggle (going back to what was mentioned earlier in this research….there being hope in the struggle).

Fairy tale, we made one up….great fun preparing…in fact the excitement of making one from scratch left us with a certain buzz that prevented us from taking more time in the presentation of the felt rushed and unresolved. However the unexpected trickling of the fake blood added content to our geisha like walks. The reading at the end was a holding on to the unresolved ending.

Bennita’s story presented with Ruth moved me, tears were coming down and I could sense other people in the room were experiencing a similar reaction…snuffling could be heard. Something about the delivery. Two women faced the audience and sat next to each other. Ruth began with an image of an infant covered in olive oil and cotton wool between skin and clothes… A juxtaposition of facts and emotion. It still provokes something when I simply think of it…
life lived and told.

Showing or improv was very enjoyable this time for me. It felt more fluid, and it was less of an ‘extraction’ to be on the sides than coming out of the space… It also felt more of a group experience rather than different individuals doing their thing only, it was certainly more of an organism going through shifts of form. Also the presence of the children I think aided us as a group to expand our listening … Challenge to feel confident in choice of duration of the act and also progression, repetition helps for this... Images that have stayed with me are the children’s work with the men, a diagonal created by Fernanda and Johanna, Janusz’s being washed by Leah, my interaction with Leah felt satisfaying…and Liz …all I saw her do had a visual and contextual impact for me.

Working with song with Toby Park
We each worked on writing text for a song..
Work of this kind is very new to me and I was intrigued and challenged at the same time
Absorbing as much as I can of the new
Different forms of songs ….a hymn , a “come along” song about growth that actually never takes off and degenerates, the song about the perfect man, and about hope.

Come along little sprout
Let me watch you pop out ------ whispered sat on a box….with a making of a flower coming out of a root…..idea transferred to simple standing with 2 other women whispering to their bellies …..

Ta taaaaa tarataratara’ – we must seek solution for our kind!!!

Music contest improvisation – group from Russia, France and Japan…
No leaders…
Interesting and different feelings of safety and claustrophobia

First improv ‘grand finale’ turned into a movement (post modern style)…
The seriousness of that shifted the tone, we opted for a safe domain perhaps as a finale and yet did not all feel prepared to take it to at least a humorous level as previous part had been.
For my part I certainly went into automatism,I could have enhanced that intention more.

Then we improvised narratives as groups through song in a rock style, opera, and musical theatre and greek tragedy

This proved more challenging than I thought…partly because I relied on text and remembering the narrative of Pandora…my narrative thinking in performance is slow, I am more comfortable when I don’t have to make a decision about what lines or what words…but it’s not even as simple as this, making quick decisions without knowing if it’s the action that drives it or the thought behind the action.

Final exercise on producing a song from a previous exploration done in the research….despite my initial frustration with a technical problem….I presented something mediated from an interview on feminism in Polish, it sounded fake ‘orientalist’.

General final thoughts

It has been enriching to be part of a research here with VDT and collaborators. The process has helped me to cross boundaries. It has raised and clarified aspects of a practice that I want to engage more with. I have met wonderful people and professionals as well as talented children….has been great to be in a team environment again

Grazie Charlotte!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Kip's Final Thoughts, August 2012

What is this Beast? It seems to be constantly shifting evolving, morphing into disgustingly beautiful shapes, that i cannot quite grasp or normalise. But 'tis a beast that is anchored firmly in the past experiences of the group and the varying present feelings of each of us on this topic. And indeed, somewhat influenced by our heady and weighty discussions on this tangential subject.

I have had a week, to step back from the world of 'Motherland', and like a dream seemingly pertinent images and thoughts have begun to slip from my head, to leave the gristle and the gold that really made an impression on me.

If my eyes were a polaroid, many images have been burnt onto my retinas and left to develop in the pink blob behind it, Here they be:

Black dresses.Open legs

Small blood stained footsteps

Anxious trusting feet. Before the jump into open arms.

Writhing black shape in the corner of your eye

Clatter of heels

Following hands map out landscapes. Listening to words that slap you in the face.

Women have the choice not to get pregnant.

Flag waving.

Shadow of a person

Hope rhymes with Pope. Indeed it does Liz.

A child in heels

I am evacuated

I am a child

I slept on the Heath.

The improvisations that happened throughout the week, created some hauntingly poignant images that materialised like an accidental jigsaw falling into place. But what was most interesting is how these came about and at what speed. A concentric concertina was bellowing saturated busy images, then focussing into a small moment/tableau, that either juxtaposed with other happenings in the space or concluded it by framing a simple action or picture. A sensitivity in the group allowed space for these moments to sit. A breath was allowed.

I feel these patterns in the improvisations may be coming from where the piece sits and how it is possibly viewed by the audience. At present for me it lies in an interesting purgatory of Installation/durational and live/performance art. Ritualistic actions and slowly developing images, made me question how to enter and leave the space. At times it seemed intrusive and voyeristic to enter someone elses frame. An intergrity was being built and it often felt the image would be jarred or diluted by another prescense in the space. And then at times the space felt like a bubble, and all reference of audience was forgotten, you were on your own personal exploration, and when this reached a close. A feeling of immersed submission rose in me. Just to sit/lie small and watch the others lose and find themselves in the Labyrinth of the subject.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Researching & Developments

upon the third week at VDT R&D, new peoples came and they were of a varity of ages and context.
It was an abundance of humans.
A fecundity.
Small bodys being hoisted aloft, reminded me of Oklahoma or seven grooms for seven sisters, or some such. Funny fecund folk dances. Groups of boys and groups of girls, like in the ballet or the west end.
Also, a kind of 'theatre' context this week, and a telling of peoples personal stories. Creating the context for holding a listening frame, for someone to speak in. Or testify.
Dialogue. Listening to people speak. Speaking. Reiterating what one heard. hearing ones words reiterated.
Also, the returning of previous images reimagined and in new context. High heeled shoes, and period dresses and jackets, chaulk boards, overhead projectors,bloody cotton wool, left over bits from puppet shows, small stringed instruments, prams, boxs, objects in boxes, microphones, microphone leads. ash (which has been found to be a potential health hazard, and removed). The replacement substance for the ash looks like kitty litter. Also, the snow has not been appearing so much any more in the space. I wonder if the snow and ash, have just been to ungainly, and make to much of a mess.
So, it all seemed pretty much a fecund abundancy, of fertile feminist findings. funnyfecundforms.
Maybe like Summer Arts/Theatre Camp, with diverse populations, for a better understanding of arts in community, as it was a microcosm of a kind of diverse(ish) community, in the context, of arts work.
nobody seemed to have gotten hurt.
theatrical work was accomplished.
some more people went away, some other people came, and some people stayed.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Zoie's (Associate Artist at The Point) Thoughts

I have just spent two days watching Charlotte and Wendy Houstoun play with how words can be used to share a point of view, without preaching or using stereotypical views.

Having an insight into how Wendy works was a real privilege, watching words and sounds being choreographed was not something I had ever realised was possible before. I use speech very slightly in my work and am sure I will be using it the future, although not to the extent Charlotte uses, and watch the in depth process that play with ideas and concepts has been really enriching.

To watch how professional dancers, musicians conduct themselves in the studio and throughout the exploration process was very beneficial for me. Having only worked with the youth sector, see the professionals work over the two days allowed me to understand the amount of risk the dancers can take and that making an environment where nothing is wrong is a good rule to run a research process by.

After the two very different and interesting morning classes I sat for most of the day absorbing the atmosphere and watch work develop. This became one of the most beneficial aspects of the two days for me. I now appreciate that ideas can be left to run and be explored by the dancers with little guidance as gems of ideas can appear at any moment.

I saw the value in trying the same task in a variety of different way and how this can have a big impact on the message that is trying to be put across.

Spending over two hours chatting through my ideas with Charlotte really threw up some questions about my work and it’s message.

Charlotte also has really helped me look at my R and D and what is achievable in the two week and thanks to her many challenging questions and view points I was able to think about the message am I trying to convey and look much deeper into my work, it’s quality and what is interesting about the message. This layered on top of the narrative explored with Amit has given me real clarity about what I need to explore in my R and D and how I can push my skills as a choreographer further.

Charlotte gave me tips on and guidance about the questions in constantly need to be asking myself and to not settle on the first idea.

Once I had time to digest the chat I have now been able to draw up a rough outline of my R and D and the deeper meaning of my piece, which means I can now really communicate to people what my work is about.

Jo Shapland's friendly clamor of a word sketch (partitioned into three...):


I am alone. I am free.


We meet. Sharing senses of self. You tell me your story. I you mine.

I am you, you are me, we all are you, you all are me, we are all you, you are all me… One self, moving around this white, light, revealing space, smudged and stained with already resonant traces of actions

…We inhabit the moment.

Doing away with any tendency towards the slick, the finished, the smooth and polished – daring to be with the unknown. Messy stuff. Mistakes. Fumblings. Grapplings.

Trusting the unknown to locate new discourse, new expression.

Manifesting. Revealing, trusting, enhancing. Surrendering. Holding. Hearing. Sharing. We are a broad spectrum of diversity with different and varied priorities.

Notions of self, thrown upward

up into the white cavernous Creation Space, landing there, here, generously shared, played with, crackling laughter resonating, heartfully tumbling, bumbling through each and every of this BIG SELF.

We are sisters, brothers, daughters, mothers.

Lovers, sons, fathers, martyrs.

Baby, child, maiden, mother,

crone, warrior, queen, other

…I am part of this…

Comedy embracing

Disappointment, elation

Stagnation, revelation

Accentuation, creation

Passion, compassion.

We wash away, wash away.

…Joan of Arc is somewhere in the room… listening.


…I am part of this…

Connection. Hidden self inside, always there, often hiding - we are coaxing this creature out from a deep well of creative potential.

We possess a fecundity of creative possibility. Here. A pre-linguistic being – sensing, feeling: articulate in-body-speaking. Waiting in the wings (it is). Delighted and delightful. Compulsive and constant. True, terrific and terrible. All at once. And laughter yes laughter, bellyjelly laughter

We give one another consent. Blessing. Encouragement. Challenge. Audacity. Offering. Able to just do, no matter what mistakes, what fuck-ups ensue. Miscarriage is a rite of passage -

- A gift.

From beyond.

And the children fly

And dance and laugh and fly




And we play

Wear one and other.

Where we find one another.






Outside in. Inside out.

Dance. Laugh. Laugh. Dance. Inside. Out. Inside. Out.

Always in the womb of things,

The White Cavern is alive


Looks like Pandora opened another box…


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Kip's Friday Thoughts

‘Its good to talk’

Conversations, formulations and much needed procrastinations.

One woman’s words:

I am a child

I am evacuated

I don’t use that word lightly anymore

I desired him

I am alone and free.

La la la lalalala la, la la la laaa laaa.

Another woman’s words

Get away from the fucking box.

Don’t open the fucking box.

Women have the choice not to get pregnant.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Wendy's Blog, Monday 1 August





















Music dies down.

Something that has been silently prowling in shapelessness

Smells the possibility of finding form.

Gill's Blog, Monday 1 August

The day before the ''audition''-night filled with usual dance nightmares , this time Giselle and not Swan lake

Waking early and thinking am I'm going to show

Driving on the motorway-sweating-the lane change to Eastleigh is so fraught!

Missing the turn to the non zoned parking area

Running up Leigh Road

Arriving at the big white space-that I have no right to and feeling an imposter

Ice breaker circle stuff-the sweat beads on my upper lip

Warm up-I send hips and pelvis to places they have not visited in years -it feels so good

Contact with strangers-I feel the fear-will he be repulsed at my body?

Dancing, improvised-just give me the steps!

An email-I am astounded

I return to the white space more nervous than ever

Bonita feeling the same-I wish I was related to her-I love her

Painful stories shared -I feel compelled to comfort but remind myself I am not a teacher

Dancers free in their own bodies showing their dance language without restraint-I can only watch

Being up for it-if not now then never-I have been given a door of opportunity that has been shut for so long

I feel shame at exposing my lack of creativity-where are the steps?

Children dancing-so unselfconscious- so free-so trusting-a plaster rips off an inner deep wound inside me and I want to sob-instead I dab eyes with toilet paper-I'll unpack my emotions later....

Sitting at a table I admire the integrity of others-''We are all adults ......''

later the phone ringing -He wants me to come round-I explain I need time to process and savour allthat I have been given -He puts the phone down on me

Spangle sitting on my lap-nestling in -he senses my contentment and allows me to dance around the house to Kate Bush.........

Going to an exercise class-Alisha Dixon Dance Fusion and hearing the words -''Go slower-less manic''...I hear and obey

Ruby's Blog, Aged 10, Friday 29 July

I enjoyed everything but I enjoyed the lifting the best. When we got there we did a warm up which was really fun. Then we learned Greig’s dance, which was really awesome. There were turns all of the time, which were quite confusing, then we went with a partner to make the dance – I went with Gill.

I loved all the lifting because if you lent back you would know that you would be safe. I also liked interviewing the women to find out the perfect world, then we got to share our ideas with everyone else. Leah and Liz had to do a song about guessing men – it was hilarious.

What I felt

I felt proud doing the folk dance by myself.

It was amazing when the boys lifted us because it felt as if you were flying.

It was great when I managed to solve Greig’s dance.

Great that I wasn’t that scared of the lifting.

Words to describe the dance thing











Freak at first


Lauren's Blog, Age 10, Friday 29 July

Day One
Learning new things
I enjoyed mostly expressing my body and touching also feeling safe.
I liked being lifted and trusting whoever is catching me and helping me.
And working with new people.
Greig’s dance was fun as well.

Day Two
Perfect world
New people
What was really great about today was listening with touch.
I also liked the massage at the beginning for the warm up.
Also the perfect world task was fun.
I have really enjoyed working with you.

Emily's Blog, Age 10, Friday 29 July

perfect world
talk throw movement

A great experience!

I have enjoyed everything.
On day one we did so much for example where all the men lift us up and throw us about and we did Greig's dance.
I felt great and safe and that they wouldn't drop me. It was as if I was flying.
The finger tip dance thingy felt almost as if I was an animal.
I had complete trust in Greig when he was lifting me.
Overall I've really, really enjoyed this amazing experience and I really hope I'll be able to do something like this again.

Ruth's Blog Friday 29 July


I spent the day working with Bennita who is here this week for two days

Bennita is 77

We were given a task to present some sort of map, list, chronology of Bennita’s life

We were given a chronological sheet of female archetypes to use as a stimulus; Infant, child, adolescent, mother, warrior, lover, crone, queen

We read them through, we found these a useful trigger but also felt contradictions and restrictions within them

I invited Bennitta to start mapping her life

I took notes and labelled each sheet with one of the archetypes

We talked for about two hours

Some of Bennita’s stories were hard for her to tell

Some were descriptions of a being a women in a time I can’t recognise and appalled me

Some made me cry

Some made Bennita freeze

Some brought up fear

Some made Bennita want to give up working with me

Some made Bennita question the whole task

Some made Bennita ask ‘what do we do with material what’s the point’

Some made Bennita tired

Some brought up fear

Bennita realised she’d not told many stories about happier times.

We kept going – I kept making notes and putting titles at the top of the sheet.

The blank page gave us a frame of duration – once we’d filled one page with one archetype/life stage we tended to move on even though there were many more stories to be told in each era.

We found ourselves mostly in the landscape of childhood, adolescance, mother...

Bennita at one point wished she hadn’t started at the beginning

We had lunch

We worked for about two more hours trying to navigate how we would present the material. Bennita was caught in a dilemma that was with us for most of the afternoon. She had decided not to pour out her life story anymore to people, that she had dealt with these memories, let them go, wasn’t defined by them any more and didn’t really want to re- visit them or talk about them. But she also felt a responsibility and pull to talk of an era, a time for women that is so different from now. Bennita also wanted to show and demonstrate her skill as a perfomer.

We nearly gave up several times. I started feeding in possible ideas for presentation; just showing images from the stories, reducing text to 7/8 lines, showing just one image or moment, talking about not telling her story, me interviewing her. None of these felt right. We sat close to each other, we tussled, we got frustrated, we sat and waited.

As a throw away remark Bennita she’d just sit in an armchair and talk.

So we started there but it was difficult, didn’t feel right for Bennita. I joined in. I started describing the images. ‘I am a baby, I’m fat because I’m covered in cotton wool because I’m covered with olive oil and the cotton wool is to stop my clothes getting stained’.

We had found a key and telling the story as if we were in the present tense through describing a series of images sat well with us both. Bennita asked me to tell the more painful stories of her life so she could honour her decision not to talk about some of these more difficult memories.

We presented Bennita’s life story to the group using this method. I tried to stay within the structure of talking only in the present tense describing images vocally and mapping them in front of us with no commentary. Bennita used this structure and at times added commentary, description, interjection. correction. I knew that some of the images described were horrific, painful, full of grief, longing, loss, missing and that they were also revealing a tracking of female history from 1934- now. My own practice is to work with peoples personal stories and Im really interested in this holding of the very personal and the contextual at the same time the micro and the macro.

Between us we negotiated the telling of Bennitas 77 years in front of the group.

Ruth Ben-Tovim, Dramaturg