Random notes and ideas after a week of Studio Current Compost Suite workshops

Current biorhythms: Withdrawn, uncooperative, physically fit, open minded.

I approach the tail end of a salvo of workshops through Studio Current’s Compost Suite, themed around experimental exploration of the processes and concepts utilized by different artists. Beginning back in late October, we hit the zenith this week: Today marks the 7th consecutive night of workshops, with more to come.

I struggled with how to effectively recount the wealth and scope of experiences I’ve had over this past week and month, and now I realize that it’s probably not possible to effectively blog what I’ve taken in and how I can process it all. Even if I could manage to document such a large volume of ideas, experiences, thoughts and potential processes, the wall of text would prove too great for virtually everyone to sit and read.

So instead I’ll throw out some ideas that the experiences and discussions invited:

– Rae Diamond focused on the parallel relationship, or potential to parallel a relationship, between one’s artistic process and the phases of the sun (seasons of the year) and moon (lunar cycles). Though I’m not emboldened to astrology I do believe the time of year does influence our behavior (and if you let the weather affect your outlook, then it definitely influences yours), and given how it impacts the ocean’s tides I’m not entirely opposed to the idea that lunar cycles may impact our behavior. Even if you find astrological concepts totally bogus, it presents a possible framework for building an arc of structure to your artistic process over a period of time. The key concept: It’s okay at times for an artist not to produce, to instead withdraw and reflect. There should be times for an artist to make, times to learn and times to think… and these times ebb and flow into and out of our lives naturally. Even if you don’t want the sun or moon to be your guide, this idea presents a possibility for effective process.

– During Danielle Agami’s Gaga intensive we briefly touched upon using collapse to initiate movement. With Alicia Mullikin I explored that concept more closely, and more specifically as a push and pull relationship with gravity. Much like how Salt Horse had us see music and sound as a dance partner in their IMP series, Alicia presented gravity as a sort of dance partner, one you give and take with the way you give and take weight in partnering and contact improvisation.

– Even after all the practice, I still don’t physically get contact improv. I mentally understand the concepts behind it, but for some reason my body dead-ends when I put them to practice. Even watching it, contact improv in practice looks to me like a messy, disheveled mish-mash of obstructed movement. It doesn’t appear at all natural or connected so much of the time. There has to be a better way to learn it, maybe even a better way to do it.

– Stephanie Skura gave us some Walleye-style tools for developing work through writing, improvised movement, text and states. Her Friday night workshop had us play with committing to different styles of movement and voice, adopting a pair of contrasting styles, writing text and then working with those states in tandem with other movers as well as the text we created. I liked her idea of passing around folded over sheets of paper and each person writing a question, folding up and passing the paper, writing an answer sight unseen, passing and repeating until we had pages full of surprise paradoxes. Her approach of committed, contrasting states also presents abstract possibilities from which to start towards work.

– A friend of mine and I approached our experience in Danielle Agami’s Gaga intensive, and how the experience she gave us in that class appears so fundamentally different from the hyperdrive modern dance we see in Ate9’s dance productions that it’s not at all clear how the ideas she taught us relates to her process in creating work. Granted, I have used concepts she introduced in the intensive to make my own work, but the gaga experience and the work she has produced are definitely, distinctly separate to the naked eye.

Thinking about it, my educated guess is that the intensive did not necessarily introduce process as much as possibilities and ideas from which to generate material… and that ultimately Agami’s process for making material is a separate beast, but one that utilizes the Gaga approach to generate the ideas through which her process ultimately produces work.

– There is a music, rhythm and relationship to movement, if everyone is willing to listen to it and everyone has an intention.

This falls right in line with improv, where listening is valued but every player needs to bring committed choices to the table themselves… or there is nothing to work from.

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