Performance Lab Workshop Series

Performance Lab Workshops are a series of events in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It is facilitated by Clara J:son Borg and Amy Pickles, and supported by funding from Gemeente Rotterdam and hosts WORM Rotterdam, who give their UBIK Theatre space to the workshops. Between September and December 2019, three invited artists share aspects of their performance practice in educational workshops.

In 2020 we are taking time to educate ourselves, to listen, to rest and wait. We are waiting for a time when our workshops are possible, considering saftey, and useful, considering who and what we need to learn from.

In 2021 the programme will consist of three workshops with artist Elisa Ferrari, artist and educator Samah Hijawi and dramaturge and actor Renée Copraij.

This website presents debris from past workshops, as records of the events and as tools we hope an extended audience can use. It is a site comprised of reflections, advice and techniques for working with people, working with your body and your voice.

Click on the names of each artist and you will be taken to an account from them, a workshop participant and Amy and Clara as facilitators.

1 <<

Notes from Eleanor Bauer

1. Open Dancing + Open Writing

Open dancing is a sensual-attentive warmup opening all the senses in all directions Tuning in and turning up all senses and sensibilities of touching, seeing, listening, feeling, and thinking. Dropping boundary between inside and outside, big picture and detail, imagination and observation. When the attentive warmup at rest is complete, the principle of action is movement follows attention, attention follows movement.

Open writing is free-form attempt to write in a manner that is adequate to the danced experience just had.

2. Scores culled and gleaned from the Open Writing

Taking the open writing as source material, pick out some words or phrases to build an instruction or score for performing or dancing.

3. Derivative score writing

Gather the group in a circle.
Pass the score you wrote to your left in the circle.
Choose a partner across the circle.
Perform the scores you have received (from your right in the circle) for one another, one at a time, without sharing what the scores are.
After viewing each others’ dances, write a new score based on what you’ve seen the other person doing.
Share with one another the scores you have performed and written, discuss.

(This process of derivatives could go on indefinitely, but this is all we have time for today)

4. Just Dancing / Dancing Is (procedure created by Zoë Poluch and Stina Nyberg)

Just Dancing is dancing only for the sake of dancing, or, dancing to understand/discover what dancing is. Just Dancing is dancing for no other telos or aim than dancing itself. The three main purposes, uses, or applications of dancing that are to be avoided are Training, Choreographing, and Performing. By saying no to these three aims (accepting that they will of course appear without trying), the goal is to observe what dancing is.

After 10 minutes of Just Dancing, write a sentence that starts with “Dancing is…” that is accurate to this immediate experience of Just Dancing.

Repeat in total 3 times, ending with three sentences.
Get into groups of 4. Share your 12 sentences with one another.
Together, in discussion and reflection, settle on one sentence you would like to perform as a score.
Watching the groups one at a time performing their compiled/comprised sentences, the observers articulate what they’ve seen in the form of sentences that start with “Dancing is…”
The end result is a proliferation of temporary definitions and potential scores for dancing.

5. Phonetic Poetry Generator (developed in collaboration with DOCH BA Dance graduating class of 2019)

In a group, each person individually works with one loopable movement at a time. The movement choice should not be belaboured - let it be immediate and driven from an appetite for whatever movement you would like to do/feel at that moment. Repeat the movement in order to study it’s dynamic, it’s shape, it’s sensation. Silently or at a whisper, search for a phonetic equivalent to that short movement’s form. Then, using your existing vocabulary, look for a word that most closely fits the phonetic sense of the movement. Representative meaning or sense of the movement to language relation is not a concern. The only concern is to match the phonetic form and physical form. When you have arrived at a word that matches the movement in shape, dynamic, rhythm, articulation, syllables, etc, say the word aloud. Then begin again on a new movement loop.

As a group of people are doing this work, and announcing words as they are manufactured in the “phonetic poetry generator,” a person or people outside of the working group is writing down the words as they are heard, in the order that they come out of the phonetic poetry generator.

The resulting poem may be a perfectly sufficient poem as-is, or it may be arranged, used, recited however (f.ex in song lyrics, dialogue, or culled for more dance scores).

2 <<

Reflection from Christina Karagianni

Circle formation, sitting on the floor.
Participants introduce themselves.
So does Eleanor Bauer.
She shares her research field of interest which is the affiliation between the practice of dancing and the practice of writing1 and how one informs the other in choreographic processes. The interrelation of the two practices happens in a dialogic way, in which movement-thought is not confirmed by logos2/λόγος (reason, cause, speech, ratio, word). Instead, movement-thought of the dancing body, as a media, allows for a differentiated way of perceiving3 and understanding, with the adoption of situated embodied logics. It also holds the potential to challenge, expandand reinvent structural and coded components of language.

Score: Not done. What is done. Hips done. Not done. Ain’t yes done. Not quite finished done.5
Feedback score: First position. Second position. Third position. Wondering about oneself. Like a child. With legs. And arms. Too long for its tiny body.6 7

Dance is trance9
Dance is not knowing when movement and input (or the other way around) start and end10
Dance is always in relation to11
Collective score: Dance is a knee in relation to

Bodies moving in couples.12 One listens-the other follows; Sunshine, tropical, gum, olympia,here, fast, narrow, dizzy, plums...

  1. The etymological origins of the word choreography derive from the greek words choros (χορος) and grafia (-γραφια). One of the translations given for choreography, maybe the most literal one, is ‘writing dancing’. However one can be playful with the word choros as it can be interpreted also as khoreía (chorus) meaning dancing together. This is a reading of the word proposed by Bauer during the workshop. It provides a much stronger social agency to the word. Another reading of the word, is chόros as space,thus writing space. ↩︎

  2. Rational thinking, that is rehearsing analytical knowledge with speech and writing is not the only way of cognizing the world. Dance -in dry epistemological terms- can be seen as embodied cognition. Wherein, one exercises perception but without or wanting to reach necessarily comprehension. An uncharted place of affects that are yet to be given a name. ↩︎

  3. 'Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us, It is something we do’ See Action in Perception by Alva Noë ↩︎

  4. Description: In the first half of the exercise we were asked to dance, dance, dance and in the meantime, any moment wished, we could collect and write our thoughts in form,free of choice. Later on, we were asked to make the sentences, words, scribbles and doodles, make them look ‘presentable’ and turn it into a potential score, soon to be actualised in working couples. Every participant worked with somebody else's score. However eventually, through a series of complex orchestrated movements-unable to describe here- the score returned to its ‘owner’ as well as the accumulated score that went through filter of feedback. ↩︎

  5. This is the score I wrote. Reading the score again makes me realize how heavily I am influenced by the choreographer Mette Edvardsen. Check her work No title. ↩︎

  6. This is the accumulated or else the mediated answer to the score I have written. (or is it the other way round?) In any case, I find it interesting how score acts as a frame to motorize a dance as something autonomous from the dancer and not dance as an expression of the individual self. Since the reading of the score is being channelled and interpreted by somebody else, the choreographically set conditions for dance to appear is the result of a collective work where authorship and originality are not important. Such practices I believe are crucial to destabilise authorship and problematize the individual and name-oriented artistic market. ↩︎

  7. I would also describe the aforementioned process, as a practice of care. Maybe because there was an awareness that the dance performed is going to be ‘read’ by someone. And together you are responsible in hosting something that holds semiotic value. Or, the intra acting agencies are being responsible and taking care of a ‘narrative’ that goes beyond representational logic. ↩︎

  8. We were asked to write three sentences of what dance is. Subsequently, in groups we exhausted the conversation of what dance could be for the four of us. In the end we performed the sentence we agreed on. ↩︎

  9. Hell yeah! Although I would add the word ‘sometimes’ at the end of the sentence. ↩︎

  10. Sometimes I get the impression that dance is already exists- a space/container apt and ready to be inhabited ↩︎

  11. ... ↩︎

  12. Moving in couples; where the movement in not prefigured. There is a kind of real-time negotiation and decision making, uncertain of what is to come. No projection into the future. Just rehearsing the conditioning of changing. ↩︎

3 <<

A conversation about words in Eleanor Bauer’s workshop, between Clara J:son Borg and Amy Pickles

Clara is C
Amy is A
/ marks an interruption in our dialogue

(Clara is looking through her notes from the workshop, and comes across a phrase she noted down)

C: I liked and remembered this phrase, words that generate a will to move differently.

A: Why did you like it?

C: it talks about how language and movement can communicate with each other, or feed from each other.

A: it's like language is a mode of production?

C: A tool I guess. A tool of investigation and to be able to push things /

A: / which is the tool?

C: They generate each other. If I have a certain idea in my head for how I will move after, then I have an idea in my head that I can direct my movements towards that. By doing I can discover things that I could never figure out before.

A: But in the workshop we used movement to make words..

C: That's true.

A: it's like a chicken and egg scenario, and you liked the ... it's impossible to know when to introduce language and when to introduce moving ... to see them as generative but not ... wait what do I mean ... so that you don't fall back into a habitual movement, or a movement that you already know.

C: Mmm (encouraging)

A: And then in the same way it should also be important that you don't fall into the same habits or paths that you don't choose.

C: Mmm (agreeing) Because then working in groups and using one another's words, you refuse that. Putting together nonsense things to /

A: / Yes it's something you would never end up with yourself.

C: Exactly.

A: So it's not something you can take away with you to your studio and keep driving alone, you need another body and another set of words.

C: Yes, though of course you can do it alone in some way too /

A: / but alone you wouldn't get the thing that you appreciated.

C: Yes you don't get the group thing, you know you can keep on extracting words and playing with words and writing machines, but it's still /

A: / but you would have recurring motifs, all those things that you tend to use /

C: / You wouldn't get the other input no, which I really enjoyed. I thought it was quite funny to put together the words with other people.

A: Yes it was a lot of compromise.

C: For your group? With us it was a lot of reading around I think, but how did you read yours to each other?

A: We read between 3 and 5 Dancing is ... from each of us. Then we found things that seemed to match in terms of a going somewhere, or this kind of motion (gestures forwards and upwards with two hands in front of her body) and there was wind, and maybe reaching. And they seemed to fit together.

C: Mmm (encouraging)

A: And then we also had this, oh I can't remember what we wrote now /

C: / It was something hard, falling, melting /

A: / oh yeah, but then with something like what is the point? Because we also had dancing is boring /

C: / really! Hahaha! You didn't like dancing?

A: No we did! But it was connected to that thing you know, of not having a big vocabulary and feeling like, you know, exhausting all the ways you can imagine to move. And then that seemed to relate to some of my writing about trying to move in a way that I never have before but was not able to.

C: I was very surprised about how I had very little words. All my sentences ended with just one or three words and then some people in my group had written very long, poetic texts.

A: Did you write in Swedish?

C: No I wrote in english, but I think that I got stuck saying that, you know, I can say that dancing is moving and I can say that dancing turns, you know simple things. But I couldn't use words to say something else. In the end I wrote something like Dancing is chewing gum.

A: ha!

C: Because you know I don't have words to express what I want to say what it is. Because dancing is more than I have the words to express in my vocabulary. So instead I made up these fantasy things, like to try new words out to see what would work.

A: and other people in your group were very poetic?

C: Yes.

A: But that's nice when it comes together. I remember you had that nice end, into a way of listening, and that is very delicate. It's community minded, like something form a radical pedagogy manifesto!

C: ha! That's exactly what I was thinking about chewing gum!

A: ha! Wait I've found the sentence from my group, Dancing is working for simultaneity with no solution, melting into the hard stuff.

C: It's really nice.

A: Yes and no solution is where the boring comes in.

C: But I like that dancing is no solution, because we are so trained to think about finding a solution /

A: / or a product /

C: Yes, end point. But maybe there is not a solution.

A: We have to let go. Maybe it we did that we wouldn't be so theatrical in our movements because we wouldn't be trying to come to some kind of explanation, or closure.

C: Yes and Eleanor talked about that, another quote I wrote down from her was, invite unclosed interpretations. That relates to getting away from some type of precision in your representation, which could be theatrical /

A: / yes maybe that is something we struggle with, as people who are not so used to using our bodies. Whereas in the artwork that we make we struggle to do the opposite. You know in a gallery, people struggle to know what visual art is about, that's why those spaces can be intimidating because the audience wants to know they are searching for a specific interpretation.

(We have a break and talk about going into art galleries and going into theatres)

A: Let's go back to this Dancing is ... exercise and when we came together to share the work. And again more bodies were brought into the exercise and more words as they gave their interpretation. I really liked that, another type of reading and translating.

C: Yes, but I was surprised at how well people got our Dancing is ... words. I also appreciated how it went against typical value systems because Dancing is ... and then it can be multiple things at the same time. And it's not saying if it's good or bad, it's just this. And that's nice. There is no judgement.

A: So it's a statement but it's a statement everyone can make.

C: Yes, and it's a lot of statements at the same time, so it's a way of making present how a piece can be many things at the same time, which I thought was very nice.

A: For Dancing is ... we had the group who couldn't decide and used them all to keep the discussion is the process, Dancing is working for simultaneity with no solution, melting into the hard stuff.
Dancing is a knee in relation to.
Dancing is voluntarily rubbing yourself into listening.