Zahra Killeen-Chance: MAP Reflections Week Three, 11 May 2015
My research has continued to explore the relationship between breathing and moving, and the play between controlled breathing and automatic breathing.
This week I placed the research tasks within a sci-fi framework to create an imaginary context for this exploration. I have also been experimenting with different levels of focused awareness while ‘performing’, in order to discover
how this affects the audience. Moreover, I am extending my research by exploring the effect of breathing into the limbs. This exploration has in part resulted from attending two workshops with Iratxe Ansa who was running them
for Atamira Dance Company last week. One of the tools that she uses to create different qualities within her body is to associate a sound with a certain movement. I wish to explore this technique more next week. I am shifting the
premise slightly by exploring how breathing into the limbs can affect the quality of a movement, rather than using sound for this purpose.
As well, I have been doing further research into phenomenology in order to become more skilled at
using this methodology as a research tool. I discovered that placing the research tasks within a sci-fi context created
different movement energies. However, I think that I need to make the framework even tighter and more specific in order to create more intention within the improvisation. Each person took on ‘alien’ movement qualities,
however I felt that the task was still too broad and the reasons for the movement were not specific enough (the participants created their own specific imagery within the sci-fi construct of how they were in the space, or how the foreign space affected the way they could exist/be in the space).
I am interested in narrowing the tasks down even more in order to create a reason for moving in a
specific way, rather than having the participants create an image of how they think a creature in a sci-fi world would move. I would like to invert the process, and explore some movement tasks before experimenting with these movement states in the sci-fi context to see if this is more effective.
We discussed the different levels in which the performer can be present while moving in the space. We did a range of tasks and variations such as holding an awareness of the room, of each other, and the breath while moving. This
required a lot of concentration on the part of the performer, and created an awareness of both the outside and the inside. This state feels as though it requires a lot of practice to be able to hold it. We also explored the difference
between focused and unfocused movements, and observed the difference. The unfocused movements had the effect of looking like a disengaged image. While the performers appeared to represent the thing, they weren’t actually being it. We found difficulty in being able to actively switch between being present with the movement, and being unfocused while doing movement.
I have been reading Closer: Performance, Technologies, Phenomenology by Suzan Kozel who is a choreographer, performer and academic. She uses phenomenology as a method for her choreographic and performance practice,
and has created her own personal variation of this methodology. She states: “A phenomenology begins with a set of concepts and a set of starting points that are fundamentally akin to dance, theater, performance and other dynamic processes for expression” (50). This statement not only reinforces how dance is able to do things that I am exploring, but it also highlights the purpose of exploring breathing and connectivity. Within this phenomenological framework, Susan
Kozel talks about how phenomenological methodology can be useful: firstly, it can help the performer to embody their senses; and secondly, this embodiment of the senses can affect the audience. I am interested in how drawing attention to your own senses and way of being in the space as a performer, can affect the
audience. Phenomenology allows for the engagement with the “raw sensory data received immediately from the senses, as well as memories and imaginative constructs” (52). So far we have been exploring the senses through breathing and ways of being as a performer, and I will continue to extend this exploration.
The tasks that we have been exploring during the sessions feel very much like a meditation practice at times. Kozel quotes Varela, Thompson, and Rosch who make an analogy between the practice of phenomenology and the practice of meditation, with the difference being: “it is about creating a new way for cognition to coexist with inner and outer experience” (51). This feels akin to the breathing and presencing exercises that we have been playing with, but it requires further practice in order to be able to fully develop this new “cognition”.
Reflections are an important part of the phenomenological method, and they can be a written, drawn, or vocal account of what has occurred. The aim is to help the performer give expression to their experience, and validate what is happening in that time of practice. The MAP requirement for reflections reinforces this phenomenological model of experience/expression/validation of the practice, and I have found it beneficial for processing and articulating this research.
See below for an article which has influenced Zahra's Research.
MAP invites independent artists to share their practice with written and video blogs.