Wondering in the Desert 


Welcome inside.

Here you start your path in my desert.

It looks like there is not much life around...

do not give up!

Sorry if you might feel lost.

I encourage you to keep on wandering,

looking for bones,

gathering pieces.

Singing next to the fire.

 

Trust the stars

and be careful with the hallucinations. 

 

Maybe, you will see something,


maybe, you will meet someone, 

 

maybe, you will learn something, something of the Soul...

It all depends on the choices you make.

Good luck!

 

Presentation


Wolfe and Libertad is a practice-led research project that combines choreographic and cinematographic ways of working with the aim to locate sources of female strength. Therefore, one strand of the project seeks to develop an expressive device from the kinetic interplay between dance and video projection. The other strand finds creative energy in the voice of young women instigating social change and in a wolves-inspired bodily state derived from a somatic exploration inspired by the tale La Loba -the wolf woman- presented by Clarissa Pinkola in the book Women Who Run With the Wolves (1992). Also, this tale is embodied by the dancers using sign language transformed into choreography by enhancing its kinetic aspect.


The project puts in tension the notion that being a woman is a subjective and historical construction (Beauvoir, 2011, Butler, 1990) with the experience of becoming (devenir) an animal body. In this sense, the project has a feminist approach that, beyond a critic to the patriarchy system, focuses on the forces that emerge from the female world. In this manner, the figure of the wolf functions as a metaphor, simile, and/or personification to investigate female potency. Becoming the wolf to find the woman.



1. About the artist/researcher leading this project

It is important to contextualise this project in relation to my own history and background to clarify my fascinations and different interests. My undergraduate studies are in psychology, and more specifically in psychoanalysis where I did my thesis about the experience of the body in war. While in University, I fell in love with movement thanks to discovering contemporary dance, yoga and circus and since I graduated in 2005 I devoted to the scenic arts. I co-founded and direct ConCuerpos, the first inclusive dance company in Colombia where I have been able to integrate my previous education in artistic, educational and research projects. The exploration regarding sign language and dance comes from that universe. My interest in using video projection in dance performance comes from my independent practice of making video-dances. Even though I love this art form, I was missing the live experience of physical bodies on stage. Therefore, I did a Specialisation in Multimedia Art where I was introduced to real-time controlling tools for video projection. That is why in this project I use knowledge and experiences from such diverse fields that find a way to come together around the relationship between wolves and women.    


The title Wolfe and Libertad, which is the name of the big project, and at the same time, the name of the latest artistic work, refers to my own name. My mother is Lithuanian and my father is Colombian, so, Laisvie, my first name, means liberty in Lithuanian and Ochoa, my first surname, means the wolf in Basque. Libertad is the Spanish word for liberty and I keep it in Spanish since I grew up mainly in Colombia so Spanish is actually my mother tongue. I use the spelling Wolfe as a way to create a character like Libertad. Wolfe and Libertad then, are the personification of two aspects of my own identity, that are looking at each other to recognise themselves as the same potent female force.



2.Methodology and methods

Regarding the methodology, since this is a practice-led project in the field of Artistic Research, the production of knowledge emerges from the constant cycle of making and reflecting. “Academic research utilising this approach is conducted in dialogue with the researcher’s creative production, the emphasis of which is equally placed on theory and practice as well as the reflection and documentation of practice.” (Makela et all 2011, p.4) Therefore, the creation process and its thorough documentation are the main research methods, alongside the presentation of the critical reflections that shape the decision-making process. This also means that the artistic outcomes embody the answers to the research question (Idem p.5), and that this Exposition is a place were the significant traces of the process can be presented in a multimodal way. 


The actions done for this project are: movement explorations (contact improvisation, somatic improvisation), choreographic work (creation of movement phrases, creation of improvisation scores and using sign language to write dance movement), experimentation with video editing and controlling tools for video projection and desk work that includes the review of diverse sources (books, articles, movies and videos), reflection and writing exercises.


This methodology responds to my philosophical and politic stance, which comes from a post-structuralist perspective and is influenced by critical theories. Therefore, the aim of the project is to approach a personal reality, a subjective truth and recognise the multiplicity and even the contradiction aspects of human phenomenon.  


As this project deals with a high level of complexity and involves several disciplines, I have the following ‘renderings’ inspired in the ones from A/R/Tography presented by Savin-Baden & Wimpenny (2014):


Intermediality: in between making and reflecting, in between dance and cinema, in between presences, in between actions, words and images.


Listening with the third ear: pay attention not only to what is coherent, rational and linear, but also to what grows without being cultivated, what is wild. This notion is coming from psychoanalysis, especially developed by Theodor Reik (Lagaay, 2008, p. 55) 


Openings: use free association as a way to find subjective meanings, allowing complexity, serendipity and paradoxes. 


Move first, think later: this is the way to maintain the practice leading the research. If I am stuck, I go back to the body to find the way again.



3. Navigation 

It is important to say that the present Exposition does not present a linear text, but offers different paths for the viewer/reader to navigate trough the information with a level of interactivity that relates to the multimodal approach of the project. Therefore, it includes photos, animated images, videos, audios and texts in a clear but open design that reflects the world created through the project. The viewer/reader can decide what to read, watch or listen to and more importantly, at the end of each page must decide between two option to continue the journey. The pages visited will depend on the choices, which entails that some will be missed but also makes the experience unique for everyone and in each visit. Here the map of the Exposition:





Image: Structure and possible paths of the Exposition Wolfe and Libertad 2019 by Laisvie. 



This project started in the COMMA Master of Choreography, a joint program between Codarts and Fontys in The Netherlands (2017-2019), and it will extend beyond. This project was developed with the coaching of Victoria Marks, Rosanna Irvine and Liat Magnezi. 


References:

  • Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble, feminist theory, and psychoanalytic discourse. Feminism/postmodernism, p. 327.
  • De Beauvoir, S. (2011). The second sex (C. Borde & S. Malovany-Chevallier, Trans.). London, UK: Vintage. (First published in 1949)
  • Lagaay, A. (2008) Between Sound and Silence: Voice in the History of Psychoanalysis. Episteme Volume 1 (1),  53-62
  • Makela, M. Nimkulrat, N. Dash, D. Nsenga, F., (2011). Editorial: on reflecting and making in artistic research. Journal of Research Practice, 7 (1), Article E1
  • Savin-Baden, M., Wimpenny, K. (2014) A Practical Guide to Arts-related Research., Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

 

 

 

NOW, KEEP ON WONDERING AND COLLECTING BONES...

Key Terms and Definitions


 

 
Key terms: Choreography, cinematography, women and wolves, psychoanalysis and dance, somatic approach, video-dance, digital dance, intermedia performance. 
 
Physical presence: a performer, group of performers or objects on stage.

State of presence: a constant refreshing of the connection to the present moment trough bodily awareness.  

 
Imago presence: projected imagery or mediated sound that refers to the body in motion and that is presented as projections (video or animations) or recorded voice. In other words, the presence of a mediated body. 
 
Kinetic interplay: connections, influences and relations based on movement between the imago and the physical presence. 
 
Wild: wild as something that grows without being cultivated (Oxford dictionary online, n.d.) Wild, in this project, is not used to talk about being out of control or chaotic, so it does not have a pejorative sense. On the contrary, wild refers to a force that as humans we also share with other animals and that is needed to survive, so it relates to instinct and desire. 
 
Body:
 
The body as a tongue. 
A tongue that is bilingual and loves to lick and taste.
A body that is smooth, wet and warm.
 
Curling to the bitter,
jumping to the spice and expanding to the sour. 
The sweet is just too sweet.
 
A bilingual, a multilingual, a plurilingual tongue. Eloquent, direct and funny.
because there is never a bad time for a laugh... that is the only space left for us in these days of despair. 
 
 
Somatic exploration: a type of movement-based inquiry that starts from a deep awareness of the present moment, experienced and regulated from within, that use kinaesthetic and proprioceptive sensitivity in a manner which is creative and intuitive.  

 


NOW, KEEP ON WONDERING AND COLLECTING BONES...

You gather all the pieces!

What is the creature that emerges?

Now, reach for the stars.

Aims of the Project


The project seeks to locate sources of female strength from a wolves-inspired bodily state and by developing an expressive device that works with the kinetic interplay between dance and video projection. This is the main goal and therefore the research question.


Specific aims:

+ To locate other sources of female strength such as the speeches of young women instigating social change. This introduces an exploration of the voice as part of the moving body and to research the spoken word in terms of its kinetic qualities.


+ To repurpose psychoanalytic concepts as investigation methods and creative triggers for embodied and somatic practice.  


NOW IS TIME TO COME BACK TO THE GROUND TO FIND THE PATH

The Research Trajectory 

 

I started my creative path by addressing the concept Extimacy proposed by Jaques Lacan and developed by Jaques Allan Miller. This concept refers to the blurry relationship between the interior and the exterior and has several acceptances. I focus on one: “Extimacy says that the intimate is Other -like a foreign body.” (Miller, 1994 p. 76) In other words, those cases when we do not recognise some aspects of our selves or we perceive them as external. 

 

This inspired me to do creative writing exercises and movement improvisations from my own hidden aspects. In this way, I found a wolf-like bodily state that, even though was unexpected, fascinated me. Since the beginning, Wolfe, as I call the character that I have been developing from that state, was showing a special strength that I recognise as female. In general terms, this journey has been about getting closer to, and understanding ‘my inner wolf’ as a source of female strength.

 

My first association was to the tale of Little Red Riding Hood since its characters are a wolf and a woman. This led me to do a critical review of the story that finally questioned that first association. While doing this critical review, I was also working on an artistic outcome, the video-dance Becoming were I present a deconstruction of the tale and I started to explore the expressive possibilities of projecting a body on the body of the dancers. Also, I introduce a wolf paper mask that became quite central in the project. Meanwhile, I offered a video-dance workshop where I was able to study the interconnection between choreography and cinematography. From this workshop, I was able to organise some principles from the audio-visual field that became useful in further experimentation with live video projection. This developed into a ‘vocabulary’, still in progress, presented in video form of the possible relationships between a body dancing live an another projected, which is the basis of the expressive device I am interested in. In this stage of the project, I did a collaboration with Niels Jansen, a creative technologist that comes from computer science and who developed a computer program to do live video projection mapping, especially for this work.      

 

The review of literature I did for Becoming, led me to found Clarissa Pinkola’s Book Women Who Run With the Wolves (1992). Her argument that women and wolves have a lot of characteristics in common like being intuitive, relational, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength, fiercely stalwart and very brave, became far more interesting to my research. Pinkola also argues that both women and wolves have been misunderstood, persecuted and overpowered in real and symbolic terms throughout history and due to the fear of their wildish nature. She comes from a Jungian background so psychoanalysis again became part of my research. Reading Pinkola’s theory re-signified ‘my inner wolf’ and opened a new door to explore my feminine identity. I found her association key to continue shaping the research and I moved forward to my next artistic residency where I created the stage piece WolFloW.


In that process, I became interested in finding ways to make ‘the inner wolf’ emerge through movement and it was the opportunity to refine my previous discoveries regarding the relationship between dance and projection. For example, I included an exploration with a large origami sculpture in order to have other paper elements beside the mask that could be also a potential projection surface. In the beginning, this element was supposed to be secondary but very organically within the process, it became quite central. From the transformation of this big paper structure, new dramaturgic aspects emerged. I treasure this serendipity finding because it relates to the meaning of wild that I am addressing to; wild as something that grows without being cultivated (Oxford dictionary online, n.d.). The actions to transform the paper from a fixed geometrical structure that gets un-ensemble, reconfigured and finally torn apart, can be seen as a metaphor of how feminist movements have been questioning the patriarchal system in order to transform the role of women in society to gain more rights and freedom. 


However, while the dramaturgy of the paper was gaining focus, the development of an expressive device from the tension between projected and live dance was getting lost. Also, the body of the wolf-woman started to vanish and the movement materials became too clean and elegant, and therefore, far from the wild quality that started the project. Therefore, I decided to leave this experimentation aside and come back to the kinetic interplay between imago and physical presence while keep on constructing the wolf-woman body from somatic experimentation in the following stage of the project. I use the term somatic as an adjective to describe the type of movement-based inquiry that I have been doing because it shares many of the principles that other somatic practices have. For example, it is a practice that starts from a deep awareness of the present moment in movement (Ferris Lester, 2017, p. 31), is an inquiry “experienced and regulated from within” (Idem) and use kinaesthetic and proprioceptive sensitivity (ISMETA, n. a.) Also, as other somatic practices, mine has been informed by a physiological understanding of the body, yet experienced in a manner which is creative and intuitive (Mullan, 2014, p. 254)

 

The understanding of Wolfe as a personification of the female wild nature that I could locate through the body was interrupted by the ideas of Judith Butler and her critic to the binary distinction between genders. Her proposal questions to locate female strength referring to concepts such as nature or essence. So, a new question emerged; how to address the female potency if The Woman, as a unitary category does not exist? Reflecting on this question re-framed the research into a more subjective frame, where it is important to contextualise the discoveries from a personal perspective and to address gender as an ongoing construction. Looking at my investigation from this perspective was definitely enriching and I decided to expose the old tension between culture versus nature through the tension between body and language. In my last work, the dancer moves from the bones, the muscles, the blood, the hair, the teeth, the tongue, but also uses her voice to present sounds and words, to tell stories and to make statements. That is why the voice is part of the project as an aural element of the dramaturgy.


Derived from my readings about feminism and the critics to the patriarchal system, I discovered a lack of respect towards the voice of young women in our society. So it became important for me to listen to that particular voice and to embody the words that some young woman have said in political speeches that have instigated social and political change. I see them also like wolves, reclaiming their territory and making the whole pack to move. Also, from using autobiographical methods of creation, I found some aspects of the experience of being a woman that has changed dramatically in the latest generations and some others that sadly remain the same. These two topics are expressed in the project as embodied speeches where there is an interest in giving a dance feeling to the use of voice. This was achieved thanks to the collaboration I did with opera singer Karin Deddens who help us, the dancer and me, to play with different intonations, speeds and pitches.


I would like to give a special thanks to all the dancers that participated in this project in different stages: Alice Gioria, Giorgia Belotti, Ewa Sikorska, Bellaluz Gutiérrez, Daniela Gomez, Dalia Velandia, Manouk Schrauwen, Felix Feenstra and Donna Braber. Also to my peer Olga Spiraki who invited me to Greece to offer the video-dance workshop, to Suzan Lemont who open her space Pandora’s Playspace in Utrecht to do creative experimentation and to Liat Magnezy who offered me a residency in her program DinO. 


References:

 

  • Ferris Lester, K. (2017) Somatics: A Buzzword Defined. Journal of Dance Education, 17:1, 31-33, DOI: 10.1080/15290824.2016.1117615
  • Miller, J. A. (1994) Extemité in Lacanian Theory of Discourse. Subject, Structure and Society. Bracher et all (Ed.) New York University Press.
  • Mullan, K.J. (2014) Somatics: Investigating the common ground of western body–mind disciplines. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 9:4, 253-265, DOI: 10.1080/17432979.2014.946092
  • Pinkola, C. (1992) Mujeres que Corren con los Lobos. Barcelona: Ediciones B, S.A.
  • Wild. [Def. 1] Oxford dictionary online. Retrieved January 29, 2019, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/wild  
  • International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association. (n.d.) Home page. Retreived  from http://www.ismeta.org 

 

A DECLARATION OF LIBERTY, LOVE & DANCE

By Laisvie Ochoa

 

No matter what, I still believe in the force of the collective. I want to attract others to work with me, to scream with me, to dream with me.  

I want to share the responsibility, the glory and the pain. As a matter of fact, I am part of an expanded, dissident and potent body that divides, shares and circulates.


As an artist, I chose the paradox. I enjoy the ambivalence. I trust the order of chaos. I constantly fall in love with surprises. I marvel. I am still a child.

But I work hard. I work a lot. I work in a passionate way. The same way I eat and I make love. 


When I feel too stable, I call for an earthquake and shake it off. 

Because life is movement 

and the movement is alive.


I believe I can do it, even when I am doubting. And I doubt even when I am doing it. Because I want to be open to change while I expand my roots.


Because there are infinite possibilities of doing something and each of them is valid.  


Listening is my main tool. It is the instrument that I keep on tuning. From a state of listening, true richness comes. I listen not to understand rationally. I listen with my third ear between the lines. I listen with my cells and with my muscles and with my organs and with my bones. I listen with my heart. I listen to myself and I listen to my creations because they are the ones that know.


I also train how to talk with my hands, touch with my eyes, and taste with my skin. And especially, I train to be kind every day.

I truly believe that LOVE saves the day, saves the dance, saves the whip. 

Love saves me from my monsters. 


I prefer to find beauty in the dissonance. I like to question installed powers, to question hegemonic techniques, to question symmetrical beauties, to question dance itself.


In my life, value is much more than money and I practice the economy of movement. I like to be austere, to melt, to follow the spiral and to find the most direct way. Like this, I can save for the parties the extravaganza and I can waste all the energy until exhaustion. Therefore, every performance I make is a party.


As a maker, I design processes and not results. The results are very important but the ends do not justify the means. As a maker I am a researcher, I do not know so I can only hope for the best if I give the best.  

For me, this is about ethics and aesthetics equally.   


I believe that it is important to raise the volume of marginal voices, and to give power to the subtle, the small, the internal.

I am an idealist but, also, I am a maker. I build the world I believe in. I create my own games. If I do not know it, I invented. 

I feel free. I feel love. I feel dance.


A creature is emerging... 

where do you want to go now?