Smoking cigarettes in Nice

Earlier this year I took part in the Testing Ground dance theatre workshops led by coreographer Jane Turner and theatre director Luke Dixon at Conway Hall. This programme runs every year and participants come from a variety of backgrounds. This year it was myself, Maja Laskowska and Theresa Hoffmann.

Together we developed and performed Lost and Found, a dance theatre piece with flags and simple rules based on emergence theory — responding to the space at Conway Hall. Emergent behaviour is an outcome of a complex system. A close relative of Chaos and Complexity, Emergence is a scientific phenomenon describing dynamic systems that self-organise from the bottom up in unpredictable ways. Think flocking birds, ant colonies, street fashions, performance. (Jane Turner)

Yvonne Rainer, Trio A

We also took inspiration from Yvonne Rainer who created a dance piece called Trio A in the 1960's. The piece is a sequence of unpredictable movements that unfold in a continuous motion, deliberately opposing familiar dance patterns of development and climax. (MOMA) The dance has been understood as inaugurating a new field of practice that embraced laconic movements and ordinary bodies, and helped usher in postmodern, task-based dance.’ (Berkley) Watch a video of the dance here.

Yvonne Rainer developed Trio A With Flags with another five dancers, performing naked and using the American flag. This piece was part of the People’s Flag Show organized in Greenwich Village, in protest to the arrest of Stephen Radich, a gallery owner who had desecrated the American flag condemning the Vietnam War. (The New Yorker)

“Trio A with Flags,” at Judson Memorial Church in 1970. Photograph by Peter Moore / © Barbara Moore / VAGA, N.Y.

At a time when Brexit is in the background of most my interactions and conversations, and a time when I am applying for British Citizenship, this performance was a sort of physical reflection. The European flag became a jump rope, a lifeline, a game, a veil, a rag for cleaning the floor.

We called out names of European capitals and told stories of times spent in Europe. Nadia showed me puppetry shows. We talked about our European friends and our dreams. Miia lent me her flat in the forests of Finland. We called out objects from the space. Dessy always danced like nobody was watching. We told poems and laughed.

Rehearsals: Lost and Found with European Flags, Conway Hall. From left: myself, Theresa Hoffmann and Maja Laskowska. Photo Tim Stubbs Hughes
Rehearsals: Lost and Found with European Flags, Conway Hall. From left: Maja Laskowska, myself. Photo Niaz Maleknia
Rehearsals: Lost and Found with European Flags, Conway Hall. From right: Maja Laskowska. myself. Photo by Tim Stubbs Hughes
Rehearsals: Myself with European Flag. Photo by Robert M L Raynard

“I live my life in widening circles, that reach out across the world.” Rainer M Rilke

Our work was documented by R M L Raynard, Tim Stubbs Hughes, Grace Gerald, Niaz Maleknia, Lorna Robertson and Jo Clemens as part of a photography project entitled Stages of the Self. The exhibition is on show at Conway Hall until the 30th of June.

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