“Intuition is fed by external inputs” Hogarth, 2001

“Intuition relates you with people and create resonances at different levels” Hogarth, 2001

The photo album of the pawns

Intuition & Patterns – enabling spontaneity through discipline

The context

From September to October 2020 I had the opportunity to work on a new production with 7 dancers within the program dedicated to 3 young choreographers at Biennale Danza in Venice. I entered in the process with a general idea that I wanted to develop but without a precise structure or vision on the final product. I wanted to embrace the process and to keep open to the possibilities and happenings that my meeting with a new environment and a new group of dancers could generate. My starting point was the paradox generated by the clash between the situation we were experiencing and the seductive discourses of people in power, often busy in assuring us that everything was ok. I knew I wanted to incorporate a sentence said by Donald Trump during one of his speeches on climate change: “Because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism”. The seven dancers weren’t allowed to touch each other because of Covid regulations, and this pushed me towards reflections on ways of feeling and provoking togetherness and manipulations effects without the real presence of body contact.

The process: reflections on context and approach

The process was really hard because almost immediately I couldn’t find the availability to embrace it within the dancers. I was also new in embracing the “unknow” within the process, but totally aware that I could activate a creative playground only with a mutual exchange with collaborative dancers. At the end of the period I was asked to create a 20 minutes piece during a evening dedicated to the “young choreographers” works. Despite the ups and downs, which I will not dwell on here, I was still able to experiment with some working methods that combined spontaneity with the need to create a finished product. One of them relates to the need of connecting with dancers’ experiences and to incorporate their visions in the work. I’ve started simply with curiosity, not really knowing what I wanted to do with that material, but I felt I need something from the dancers experiences in order to know them better in relation to the theme I wanted to work, but also to enlarge the possibilities of creation beyond my perspective. That is why I decided to interview them by proposing a general question at the end of the session, asking the dancers to use the following days to think about it. I first asked them to think about fragility and power, concepts that in the meanwhile have arisen in the studio from the idea I arrived with, and to tell me about an experience they had in their life, or even an experience that didn’t directly involve them, but that connected somehow to the concepts of power or fragility.

At the end of the session one of the dancers came to me, she started to tell me a moment of her life when she experienced fragility and how surprisingly she felt that the same episode was connected to power. In the meanwhile, she started crying. I was totally unprepared to this reaction and this episode made me think about the process I was leading and made me reflect on how tricky and risky was to involve them on a personal level. I was worried particularly because of two aspects: the maturity of the dancers I was working with and the later discovery of the time I had at my disposal to develop the process. I have been told I had two months’ work before presenting a final piece of 20 minutes, but then I realized that that time was spread among three choreographers and concretely I had just and average of 9 hours per week of studio work.

These reflections turned me away from creating a collective moment of sharing but didn’t discouraged me from finding a way of interaction with the dancers’ experience. I felt that the exchange with the experience of the dancers should be among me and the single dancer only, while the translation moment in movement/choreographic material should serve also as a tool to put into action the themes I was interested in, in a collective manner.

I have also reflected on the question I was posing to the dancers, in order not to dig inappropriately in their emotional response and sensitivity but to find a way to open up an imaginary I could manipulate and transform during the process.

Thus, I decided to go in the studio and ask each one separately an image of power coming into their mind, without thinking too much. Following Jung (1946), with the use of imagery, human beings engage in the development of a dialogue with our unconscious minds, so I thought that thinking about an image could immediately shift the level of control of our will towards spontaneity, allowing the fantasy to merge with reality an reassure our fear of exposition. When they were ready to tell me, they would have called me and describe me the image.

The process: connecting images and patterns

Following Hogarth (2010), the term intuition suggests certain correlates, among these are notions of speed and confidence. So, I decided to select four images from the ones I collected from them

individually, I’ve described the image to the group, and I gave them 4 minutes to create the image

with their bodies together without touching. Nobody could speak during this process, they should find within the group which image they were working on, I was just telling them when it was time to

change the image. When they were ready, they should have found their way to tell me and

communicate to me which image their physical picture was responding to. From my side, I would let

them know when there was just one-minute left. I didn’t want them to think about the shape they were creating, I wanted them to be and feel the shape within the group, and I wanted to test also their leadership capabilities and their group dynamics while doing the exercise.

This simple exercise turned out to be very tough and difficult for this group. Concentration was often lost and the dynamics of the group I have sensed from the first day, were now showing up within the process and body behaviors.

I asked the group to memorize the four different images: I loved the spontaneity of each position

guided by an obligatory mutual and silent listening that obliged them both to an internal external

gaze. The result was totally unplanned but full of multi leveled meanings, some of them shared only

between me and who gave mentally birth to the image during the individual interview. There was an

instinctual component in my approach even if I tried to appear totally over control of the situation and in the process to reach to the shapes.

Parallelly the dancers have already developed some movement material based on unconscious gestures performed while talking one to each other. I wanted to create a group situation were language and image combine, so I ask them to be responsible of the group shapes they were building through moving between these two binaries: one already set individually but never connected in a group and the other coming from the images they have just created. This combination was important to give unexpected lives to the images and suggested me the next step. 

How do you travel from an image to the other? 

I wanted to create a trip between the images through patterns and rhythms, such as this group of people were a bunch of lead soldiers guided by an external force of habit and routine.

The generated score

Trials and final result