Beginnings

(Written 10 August 2011)

The plural is used intentionally in the title as I set to write a condensed gathering of the experiences, explorations and reflections around the early parts of this research project. Some ‘beginnings’ – and paragraph headings below – include: Nottdance Past and Present; An Experimental Salon; Collaborative Dialogues; what remains and is to come; Sense[less] Acts; Performance Lecture. Scroll down to find each paragraph heading.

Nottdance Past and Present
See blog posting 'Conversations at Nottdance 2011'

I’ve been looking at work from the archive in video format. Traces. What do these traces carry? How might they be read? How might I sense the values and concerns of the choreographer through this reduced ‘appearance’ of a work? I am particularly interested in processes of thinking in the making and doing of choreography: how this ‘happens’; how it is articulated in practice within the event; how it is articulated in language after the event. I am curious about the kinds of structures that enable processes that are ‘open’ - in which the outcomes are not pre-determined. I watch videos. I watch live events at Nottdance 2011 including Nicola Conabere, Me and the Machine, Dog Kennel Hill Project, Colette Saddler, Alexandra Harrison, The Guests Company - Yuval Pick, Wendy Houston. And I notice the processes that are triggered in me, as spectator, as I watch.

 At the festival I talk with Jane Greenfield about her thinking behind her programming during her period as Artistic Director at Dance4 (1994-2004). See blog posting Conversations at Nottdance 2011 for my conversations with Australian artist Alexandra Harrison, and with current Artistic Director Paul Russ and Producer Claire Hicks.

An Experimental Salon
There is much debate about practice as research. If research is an investigation approached with an open mind – can we say that art by its ‘nature’ is research? Can the art itself be evidence of that research? To what extent is a verbal articulation necessary? And what kind of verbal articulation might be offered?  The salon is imagined as an opportunity to ‘play’ with other makers in an engagement with these kinds of questions. The invitation below explains the set up.

What are the implications (issues, problems, benefits, uses, potentialities) of locating your arts practice as a research practice?

The salon will be an enactment of processes of thinking through this question.
You are each asked to bring your materials (though paper, pens, masking tape, will be available) and a contribution that engages performatively with the question. This could be an action, a statement, another question, a moment of practice, a gesture ….  And you are asked to come willing to 'play.’
The space will be delineated by masking tape to define inside and outside the ‘frame.’ We will engage performatively with the question, with each other and with the ‘frame’ for 15 minutes. Action within the frame will be recorded. We will then replay the 15 minutes projecting it onto the back wall of the ‘frame.’ We will continue to engage with the question, with each other, with the ‘frame’, and additionally with a layer of past time indicated by the projected media. This too will be recorded.

The salon is attended by five artists working with movement, digital media and text. Much discussion was generated, ideas stirred, choreographic potentials explored … but no answers … as yet!

Collaborative Dialogues
As a means to generate conditions in which thinking processes might be less pre-determined I initiate collaborative dialogues with other artists; collaborative dialogues in which I do not direct but rather let decision emerge through the rigour of the shared inquiry, and in which we both perform. I am interested in coming together without a plan, without a theme, without an intention towards a particular outcome. And with an agreement to make an, as yet undefined, ‘something.’

what remains and is to come
In October 2010 I start the first collaborative dialogue with Katrina Brown . In November we performer ‘Talking Dance: a performance lecture’ at Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre. There is paper, charcoal, live video feed, microphone, laptop and two projectors – one for live video feed the other for short quotes from dance writers and choreographers. We talk using a ‘straight lecture’ discursive voice, interspersed with whispered voices from the processes of making dance. We talk about Western dance history, about dance’s late arrival into the field of cultural discourses, about how things are changing…. We enact movement that leaves a charcoal trace, movement that leaves a sound trace and begin to explore movement that might leave only resonance…

As we continue to work together we shift into a closer examination of the materials we are working with - charcoal, paper, body, digital technology – and name the project ‘what remains and is to come’. We have been working at TR2 in Plymouth and Space at Dartington. In August we are in residency at Nightingale Brighton.

what remains and is to come is a collaborative dialogue between Katrina Brown and Rosanna Irvine.  Taking a cross-disciplinary approach to choreography, we are working with the materiality of charcoal, paper, body and digital technologies – and with the processes that are instigated through an examination of the properties of these materials. Through work-like repetitive actions and systematic inquiry we are exploring how the processual, emergent potentialities of the materials might be framed as a fluid and multi-layered continuum of images.  We are working with digital technologies to mediate visual and aural aspects of the processes. We create seven layers of charcoal drawings with the body. Each layer is superimposed on the previous one. The last layer is an imprint, which leaves its mark by the absence of the body that previously lay on it. This imprint lies on the history of all the previous layers. These layers carry trace, time, memory, resonance.’ www.whatremains2.wordpress.com

Sense[less] Acts
In March 2011 I begin a collaborative dialogue with Jenny Hill. In June we perform at Siobhan Davies Dance Studio, London. We work with movement and text. There are three questions on the wall behind us: why move? what does a body want? what is a body anyway? There are numerous other questions presented in scrolling text on two laptops at different ends of the space. These questions have arisen through the dialogue we continue to share: questions that seek less an answer and desire more a continuous opening of the collaboration – a movement forward. Or towards? The chairs are arranged in a way that reflects the dynamic architecture of the roof studio, and invites audience movement through the space: to view from another perspective, to read from a laptop for a while … The movement score involves a continual tuning to the space, to each other, to audience movement. The text we speak functions performatively – setting up ambiguous statements that are rooted in what is actually happening in the moment and which begin to implicate the audience into the performance …

More sense[less] acts will follow…

Performance Lecture
In June I present a performance lecture at University of Northampton drawing together the strands of the research. There is a table with laptop and projector, there is a microphone and stand, standing alone, apart from the table. The lecture includes the ‘straight lecture’ from ‘Talking Dance’ - and an absent Katrina. I begin to draw out connections between archival works, recent Nottdance artists, and the kinds of processes I am investigating in my own work.