This year Cheshire Dance ran Inquiring Bodies with a focus on artists who work in diverse cultural practices. I was very much looking forward to the day, not only because I had a part in organising the event, but because we had some very exciting artists featuring and offering an insight in to their practice.
Culture is an area I am very interested in. As part of my ongoing research am looking at the question, what is culture?
In the morning I joined Baris Yazar who comes from a capoeira practice. I have been interested in capoeira for a while but not had the opportunity to practice. I was initially drawn to the movement stye of this practice but after the session with Baris I feel the whole culture resonates with my own values and practices.
Baris spoke about resistance both in movement and in life. For any resistance to work or move forward there has to be something to resist again. In movement this would be another person or surface (ie. the floor), without the resistance nothing would work, you would fall, there would be no connection. In life he spoke about the resistance in Brazil saint the Portuguese. Had there been no invasion or dictatorship from the Portuguese, capoeira wouldn’t exist now as the practice rose as a form of resistance.
One task we did with Baris was about using our body to resist another person and stop them from being able to move you from the floor to a standing position. I found that sometimes I wasn’t holding or tensing my body to resist but relaxing so as to fall through the person lifting me. This worked as they were unable to get me in to a standing position. This got me thinking about what resistance means, maybe is it not always fighting but taking a step back. Relating this to my own practice, during creation I often find I am fighting when I come upon some resistance whether that be a mental block or a movement that just isn’t working. Moving forward I am going to try and take a different approach when coming to resistance.
Another way this relates to my own practice is that it shows me that there has to be a reason to create my art. I always want to use my art to make a comment on a topical issue, something that may be seen as controversial or about something unspoken. There has to be a resistance something to push back against to change popular opinion. Art can be so powerful in making a change in this world, so why not use my practice to make an impact.
With my research in to bodily memory and knowledge, Basis spoke about the body being a book. Every thing you have experienced lives in your body, like a book you can reference when you need. This was fantastic for me to hear someone speaking about what I had been researching. To be able to ask questions and relate to this practice.
I would love to continue to explore the practice of capoeira and delve further in to this way of thinking and moving.
The afternoon session I joined was with Ella Mesma. The area of her practice she shared directly related my own in regards to my solo work. Looking at identity we completed a task that explored the movement we relate to the timeline of our life. This was very insightful to work with someone else looking at self and identity, to explore how they go about their practice. More than looking at self and identity, it was looking at self and identity to create work that is autobiographical, work that is performed as a prevention of self. I am going to take this task forward to continue the development of my solo, exploring other ways to access movement.
I would love to explore Ella’s work further as she also looks at identity in relation to culture. Furthermore, I enjoyed playing with her movement style bringing in and fusing different styles. Having knowledge of a wide range of styles I am looking at how I can bring all of these in to my work and also how they influence my own movement identity.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join Funmi Adewole or Stella Subbiah in their sessions as sessions ran along side each other. I would have loved to explore both of their practices further but their contribution to the conversation at the end of the day was incredibly insightful. Both spoke about the power of community and the power of art, especially dance with its unique ability to connect and communicate across language barriers. This was what was really wonderful about this day, the coming together of a community. It is always empowering to work and share space with other artists. To be able to have conversations about practice, values and how we can use our art to create a change.