This has been an enjoyable and inspiring process. At the beginning I experience a lot of resistance to start the practical practice, I found too difficult to find a state of mind adequate and ready to get naked in a busy workday and start exploring with the first intervention. Inspired by the research processes of Twyla Tharp and Celeste Snowber I adapted my daily rituals in a way that the research could develop daily and in an achievable time, as well as it served me stay focused, inspired, and alert for references in daily life that could input the process.
-Research exploring the concept of Harmony.
-Focused in the following elements: pleasant agreement of the parts, unity and joint work.
-Working with two extremely different materials: paper and the human body.
-The different nature of paper and the human body is a metaphor of the extreme difference between human nature and the extreme conditioning that we face in our society/time being. We perform an embodied inquiry trying to explore the possibilities of harmonious coexistence.
I found that my previous literature review and reflection about embodiment, costume and choreography, and the etymological evolution of the concept of Harmony helped me understand the sense in which I apply it, I learned that the Greek origin of the term Harm, comes from its relations with the arms (the useful joints of the arm and it is meant to facilitate any work. I reconnect with my search of pleasant practicality).
On the other hand, reading about the research practices of other professionals helped me integrate my research moments in daily life. I learned that the best way to do research is one that is practical and inspiring. It is easier to overlook the relevance of quotidian activities such as observe nature or having a spontaneous chat with a friend helps us to develop further our ideas and developing our sharing skills. Everything is a source of material and the camera and paper should be always prepared.
About the process of embodiment, I feel still short in my exploration with other dancers and is subject of further reflection to find out the cause. Could be I am failing to share the essence or simply the willingness of dancers to open up to a somatic exploration? As discussed with my peers and my mentor, would be worth the time to explore with a wider variety of people.
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Finally, I got a sharing moment with my mentor, Jochem Naafs. I shared small fragments of my interventions as well as talked about the process and how I integrate the research into my daily routines to make it possible.
While talking about the interventions I express my concerns about the way they developed. I was not sure whether I didn't structure it correctly if I didn't allow enough time or information to my dancers if I didn't share good the aim or if maybe I should work with dancers who are already familiar with somatic practices. Also, he helped me remember that somatics and embodiment are processes that require time and practice.
He helped me with ideas for the documentation and possible solutions to connect with other professionals in the somatic/ dance field.
Sharing and reflecting moments
I had 2 feedback loops with my peers (Yara Boustani and Jonas Frey) to share my actions, findings, reflections and help me to clarify the way I share the key points and relevance of my research with others.
With Yara, we focused on finding effective ways to describe the aim of the research and how the elements relate to each other. Her feedback was valuable and helped organize the amount and order of the information that I share while presenting.
She commented that it was not yet clear the connection between the concept of harmony and the use of paper and human skin as well as the risk of confusion if that was not stated from the beginning. She proposed to start from the particular (paper and body) to the universal (harmony).
As well she asked me: Why did you choose to use 2 elements that different? How could skin and paper work together? - Then for me was easier to understand how important is to mention that my search of Harmony in art with paper and body was a metaphor of the human being and all the restricting artificial conditions that we experience in today's pandemic times, and any other uncomfortable, fragile and unnatural conditions in society.
With Jonas we talked about the process and the interventions, as well as I tried to apply the advice the Yara of starting my sharing from the particular to the universal. Jonas helped me clarifying the nature of the movement I was looking for while working with paper, he asked: "Which kind of movement would you like to achieve? What would express better the sense of unity and agreement of the parts of harmony?" - Then I said : "Fluid expansion, the body adapting, filling in and giving life to the container like water. Being water"
Favorite basic definitions found in dictionaries and encyclopedias
According to the Cambridge dictionary:
A situation in which people are peaceful and agree with each other, or when things seem right or suitable together. An agreement of ideas, feelings, or actions, or a pleasing combination of different parts.
In art, harmony is the combination of separate but related parts in a way that uses their similarities to bring unity to a painting, drawing, or another art object. A situation in which people live or work happily together without any big problems.
According to the Collins dictionary:
A combination of parts into a pleasing or orderly whole; congruity. An agreement in feeling, action, ideas, a state of agreement, or orderly arrangement.
Intervention 2 - Phase 2
Exploring without immediate spacial conditions, rigid fragile material and movement originated in the pelvic area
Please find in the photo the description and observations of this intervention
CLICK IN THE LINK TO SEE VIDEO
Below you can find images of the process of the montage of the costume (giving structure by folding the material), and the evolution of the costume after practice.
I find this costume especially inviting, the combination of the shape/design, connotations, color, resistance/fragility, sound and visible transformation of the material offer potential for a piece.
REFLECTIONS ABOUT THIS INTERVENTION
Analysis and reflection about the etymological evolution of the term Harmony, based on The Origin and Semantic Development of the Term Harmony by Ilievski, P.
I got an intuitive feeling about the way how I feel and understand the concept of harmony, but it was difficult to translate it in words that allow me to share my intentions and vision to others. I decided to track back the development and application of the term to help me identify and share with others the way I see harmony. For this purpose, I utilized the text The Origin and Semantic Development of the Term Harmony by Macedonian linguist, classical philologist, mycenologist and historian Petar Hristov Ilievski (1993). In his writing, he explains the etymological origin, semantic evolution and application of the term harmony until its most ancient origin in thee Myceanean Greek.
The concept is related to the story of the wheel and to horse-drawn war chariots consisting of multiple pieces. ‘The original meaning of /(h)armo/ was “joint work” like an arm with its most mobile joints. The arm is an organ … which… can carry, pull or push a load. The wheel is a kind of substitute for the arm’ (p 22) This express a sense of unity and practicality between all the parts that conformed the chariot. Physically, the terms means “junction…fastening, joint” (p 24) , which also fits my personal feeling of a functional relationship between the human being and its surroundings, either other human beings, its own body or the conditions.
Ilievsky explains how Heraclitus and Plato conceived harmony as a cosmic force, ‘the soul of the world and harmony are synonyms…it is a force which unites the opposite elements of chaos’ (p.25)
At this point, I found a connection with the original inquiry when I applied to the master program, I talked about duality as the extreme opposites of a same content but in different degrees depending on the side we are looking at (ej. light-dark, health-illness, love-hate, etc) and how, in theory, individuals choose to situate themselves at one point in the scale according to the point where they direct their attention. Ilievski mentions that Aristotle used the term harmony in an ethical sense as ‘the middle…the highest point on the line that connects the ends of poles’ (p.28) Expressing a sense of balance.
Ancient Greeks used to observe the horizon of the earth on the sea (which curves in the edges), that’s what Aristotle means when he talks about the middle as the highest point, literally, the highest point of a curve, ‘high’ refers to a middle point and not about being above or superiority whatsoever.
According to the author, for the Greeks, the ethical and the physical (aesthetic) domains where indivisible. There lies the origin of their ideal of beauty as something good and desirable proportions, symmetry, and coordination. I want to make a parenthesis here to express that I am merely describing what the text states and not about my personal artistic choices. For me, beauty and harmony lie in, yes, the pleasant relationship of the parts, yes, how things fit together in a useful and not confrontational arrangement, and, yes, that something triggers pleasant physical sensations. I am open, curious and appreciate the visual contrasts and different compositions that can cause pleasure. I agree with professor Ilievski when he expresses that health in all levels is ‘the result of balance and proportion’ (p 29) and the domination of one element above other causes illness and chaos.
GO BACK TO THE MAIN PAGE, WHERE YOU WERE READING
Water/container exploration inspired in Jonas and Jochem feedback loops. I was able to play with the mass of the water, its weight, and its contained energy to modify and fluidly expand into the container.
We started with a connecting exercise, bringing awareness and calming the mind. Attention in the perception of the skin emphasizing the adaptation of the body to the conditions of the costume, thinking of the costume as part of the own body. Slow exploration, constant negotiation between the physical input and the response of the materials.
I notice certain confusion/resistance with the process of embodying the costume, Dancers with the wide lose pants played more with both the materials and the spacial conditions. In contrast, the dancer wearing the tight pants limited the exploration to more walking and weight balancing patterns through space.
Working with others
I wanted to try with different bodies others than mine to be able to observe from a different perspective, as well as to witness how different people's minds, sensibilities and imagination interact with the material.
I experienced trouble to find a studio where I could carry on these experiments due to the strict lockdown in those weeks. I managed to find a studio where it was possible to practice and two voluntary dancers to try the designs.
In our first meeting, I tried to introduce them to the subject and purpose of my research. I prepared these notes to make sure I keep in mind essential information.
Intervention 2 - Trying basic design possibilities with paper made costumes and the body, exploration of the limits.
Based on the insights of previous practice, I tried to integrate the dancers in the costume design process. You can find below images of my journal with the description and reflection of this intervention.
First we explored with long pants, tight and lose
Photo of the costumes after practice, again we can clearly see the result of pelvic involvement in the movement. The tight pants is destroyed in the pelvic area.
FOLLOW THE ARROW TO NEXT INTERVENTION
Here you can find a basic description of the methods used to generate, capture and document the data, as well as a chronological exposition of the activities and interventions I engaged in. At the end you can find the final reflection
I am interested in developing further embodied tools to apply to my own creative work.
I draged from my previous Essay Creating movement language through the body and clothes, theoretical knowledge about the mechanisms present in the process of embodiment and I used it as a guide in the design of my interventions/improvisations. Also, I used that as a starting point to introduce the voluntary dancers to the key elements of embodiments when interacting with an object/costume reminding them that they should accept the object as part of themselves, applying sensorial data and imaginery.
In this first cycle, I explored both in a theoretic and physical way the concept of harmony. I looked for references, analyzing my own process and the possible applications, as well as included the research in my daily rituals (morning routine) to avoid loss of focus. and create momentum.
I found inspiration in the text of Celeste Snowber to keep an alert and appreciative state where I could transit through my day and find connections with the concept of harmony and what does it mean to be embodied.
Following the advice of Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit, I prepared a box where I started collecting materials (notes, samples of papers, books, containers, and lamps), at one point it didn't fit anymore and everything when outside of the box and found a place in my office. Due to lockdown and lacking a studio to carry on interventions and film, I prepared a room in my house where I could work in silence.
A sketchbook served as a journal for academic and artistic references, notes, drawings and any vision or intuition arrived in my daily meditation moments),
The improvisation/ exploration sessions were recorded in video for posterior self analysis and to share with my peers and mentor in the feedback loops, reflections were captured in my journal.
As I am working with the body experience, I applied the phenomenological methodology proposed by S. Gallagher and D. Zahavi (2009), it offers a pragmatic way to document and analyze what happens in the experiment process, approaching the first-person experience trying to capture how one is “thinking, perceiving, acting and feeling… by the careful description, analysis and interpretation of lived experience” (p 21), this is by literally talking about the dancer’s experience as detailed as possible after each intervention and keeping my journal next to me when the intervention was performed by myself.
FOLLOW THE ARROWS TO SEE INTERVENTIONS
In my hybrid journal, I developed a practical way to organize information for future analysis and writing. In purple there are quotes and citations, in yellow post-its there are self-reflections, in black or blue I keep ideas, notes about my process and possible next steps as well as sketches.
The whole time, I could appreciate the tension in the pelvic area, as well as resonances in that area when another part of the body moved. I could follow through sensation, tension and sound. After I removed the costume, I could confirm visually the damage that suffered the pelvic area of the costume and that inspired me for future pelvic explorations.
FOLLOW THE ARROW FOR NEXT INTERVENTION
Intervention 1 - A second skin, gravity and resonances
A particularly important aspect to be considered when working with clothes is the information we perceive through the direct touch of our skin and the materials, as the intention is being aware of the sensations and voluntarily adopt the costumes as a second skin.
Haptics refers to a perceptual system that integrates cutaneous and kinesthetic information, processing the material characteristics/properties of surfaces and objects through an active manual exploration. Some of the principal dimensions of haptic perception are roughness, compliance (elasticity and viscosity), thermal, weight, curvature, angle, orientation, shape, and size (Lederman & Klatzky, 2009).
Our body adapts and regulates the range of the movement as well as the strength, pression and tension it uses according to the properties of the materials, one should direct the attention to the skin and proceed slowly to allow the body to have enough time to process what is being perceived.
Based on previous attempts of haptic intervention during the integrated assignment, I learned that it is important that there is direct contact between both human skin and the material. I decided to carry on this intervention naked. First, I wrapped my body in crépe paper respecting the natural dimensions of my body.
Below you can find photos of the preparation process, a video where you can observe a section of my practice and finally, in the bottom photos you can find the notes and reflections of my journal.