Saturday 17th of April I gave a Mixable Masterclass for Misiconi DC. There were about 12 people, dancers with and without disabilities. I had the chance to experiment with something new, offering a workshop focusing on the connection between movement and drawing.
Like any research, my interest in proposing this workshop started from some questions.
1) What happens to us when we are involved in two activities (moving and drawing)?
2 ) Is there a leading activity or one is complementary to the other?
3 ) Is it the drawing inspired by the movement or vice versa?
4) Do I/We move/improvise differently (getting out of my/our movement signatures or patterns) when I am also in the act of drawing?
5) Is this approach disability-friendly?
Of course, 3 hours of the class did not help me reaching any answers, which at this stage of my experiment are not even needed. Below are some of my observations, which I find relevant and I would like to share. I numbered them so that my observations are linked directly to the questions above. These questions were also the starting point to design the creative tasks I delivered in the session.
1) First exercises were about finding continuity in movement while drawing. The warm-up, in a circle, introduced a prop (a yellow pastel) which was passed around. We left our first traces on our white canvas. A circular passage from one dancer to another. This passage, left our first drawing, circular and continuous, underneath us, at our feet. A meeting point was created for the group, the circle symbolised where we met each other and experienced our first sharing of movements and left a trace ( the visible drawing) out of our collaboration. I have noticed how immediately after the prop was introduced, the eagerness to hold the pastel and to move with it was growing. People were captivated from the idea of moving and drawing and seemed to use the pastel with a preference for circular doodles, curves as extending their movement. This exercise boosted the initial group bonding.
2) The second exercise, still exploring continuity, was about drawing “traces- tracks” together that we could follow with movement, dancing.
3) Dancers had a more specific movement task in which were asked to take turns in following and drawing. Seemed to me that they were so goal -oriented on terminating their “track” that I could not perceive two separate activities one with more concentration than the other. They seemed totally complementary. The drawing, together with the taking turns from dancers was giving a strong rhythm to the dancer’s movement.
Here, they are asked to interpret with movement or to follow what they see, perceived from the drawing they made.Even if the drawing was inspiring the movement the dance came out quick and we not effort, with no hesitation. The strong visual stimulation helped the movement improvisation.
I am not sure how this was felt by the singular participants but I seemed to me that there was not the drawing only inspiring the movement or vice versa. The two activities worked very organically together.
4) Dancers had the chance to explore travelling/ locomotion and falling exploring how the movement quality and the drawing will translate emotions such as Anger, Sadness and Happiness. Here was possible to notice how dancers could perform their emotion together with more diverse movement qualities. For example, strong effort and quick time would create a very different drawing for each emotion.
Quality of anger: Movement: Sudden, sharp, direct.
Drawing: Short, repetitive, thick lines.
Quality of sadness: Heavy, slow, indirect.
Drawing: Long, distant curvy lines
Quality of happiness: Continuous, more levels, rolling, fast.
Drawing: Messy, vary (more movement less drawing was noticed).
Even if dancers have all these inputs such as: moving, performing their emotions and drawing I perceived a very high degree of freedom in their dance. They were very engaged in improvising and not blocked in their thinking. The colourful lines an extension of their movement and their movements were changing faster to facilitate the drawing. Some of the dancers are students of mine from other classes. I have seen them moving very differently while improvising. Seem to me that the addition of the drawing increased their creativity and freedom.
5) We finished the workshop with an open colourful improvisation of approximately 15 minutes. The theme explored was inertia. Here the definition I read and gave to the dancers:
“a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless that state is changed by an external force”.
The matter was intended as the movement. The external force was intended as the drawing. One of the aims of the workshop was to create a shared piece of artwork to look at while in the process of making in it. Build it together, adding all our unique feelings and personalities, movements and drawings. Each participant also draws a personal life-line to always go back and balance or to go to when wanting to take time out from the improvisation. Was very beautiful an intense to witness how the workshop was “inclusive”. I was glad to see that the planning of the workshop support at best full potentials of dancers with and without disabilities.