Mocean's annual choreographic lab CLEaR Forum, Photo by Kevin MacCormack

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Influences from the outside in

More writings from Fresh Track Mentee Vivika Ballard:

Hello again everyone,

The artists at Mocean Dance have now moved into the third week of creative work on a new piece by Sara Coffin. In the studio we have been exploring ideas of how technology affects us by playing with the boundaries of our ‘edges’ and discovering our bodies in fragments. In my last entry I described my experience with our first ‘out of body’ improvisations. Sara allowed us to take our movement discoveries to a new level with a facilitated somatic experience, taking our centre of weight way off axis through an exercise in the round, know as the ‘trust circle’.
Your first experience in the moon walking floating stretch machine is sure to be a new one! In the circle with your eyes closed and surrounded by your ‘trusted’ fellow dancers, you begin to transfer weight to the bodies around you, gently at first and working up to the furthest extent of your edges and beyond with the support of the dancers guiding you through space. With my eyes closed I found it easier to give into the guidance given by the other dancers. It’s a very sensory experience and almost a release and flow through movement as though you are being manipulated by some giant amoeba with many appendages. Sometimes we even left the floor! As the experiment furthered the supporting dancers were asked to move away from the person experiencing ‘the ride’ and the subject attempted to maintain the feeling of being extended beyond their edge. It’s never quite the same once the trust circle dissipates. The sensation of letting something outside you make your movement decisions is hard to recreate and certain moves are impossible without your friends. The resulting dance however can be very beautiful and unpredictable.
When it was my turn to improvise the sensation Sara challenged me by asking for quicker changes of weight or pivots. I found this prompt forced me to move in ways that surprised or shocked my body into more distorted and off balance places. I imagine the visual outcome was more what Sara was looking for and the movement journey became less about remembering positions and more about recreating the sensation.  
The concept for this experience is parallel to our relationship with technology and the idea of its influence from the outside in. It was challenging, exciting, and very liberating going for ‘the ride’ and the movement outcome has been a staple for the piece thus far.
Here are a few pictures from week three. Sara and visiting media designer Andrew work together to find the most poignant combination of physical material with media support, looking for the poetics of the two merged into one.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Navigating the Edge and Beyond...

 New Fresh Track mentee Vivika Ballard reports from the studio:

This past week was the first of my three weeks working in the studio with Mocean Dance and Sara Coffin as she began her creative process for a brand new work, very exciting! There is something both so energizing and so overwhelming about beginning a new process, even for those who are not the 'creators'. For me this is a very new experience, mainly for the reason that I am coming from a background focused in classical dance. The way that Sara draws so much material from our     improvisation is a very organic technique for the dancer as we can draw on our own bodily sensations to find the authenticity in the movement. She gives us many liberties but not without some parameters to make for an exploration with intention.

Dancers L-R: Rhonda Baker with Fresh Trak Mentee Vivika Ballard, and Sarah Rozee with Jacinte Armstrong

Sara has been guiding us in movement exploration focused around an 'out of body' sensation and has challenged us to play with with idea of the 'edges' of ourselves. This concept has led us to consider the physical edges of our body dissolving which I find intriguing as movement becomes very shapeless when you think of yourself without an edge. Letting yourself go to this place really heightens the sensory aspect of movement as oppose to creating shapes.

We also discussed images of a universal fascia binding everything together. For me this image both expands the mind and makes the body vast but at times I felt spread thin or undefined. I have worked with Sara before and we did an exercise in visual focus. We imagined seeing through the walls and seeing the landscape beyond. When I practice this I achieve a funny sensation of taking in a greater picture, having a wider focus, and at the same time feeling quite small. I think over all however, this kind of focus brings me some kind of stability or perhaps just a false or imaginary sense of being rooted in something bigger. Overall, the 'out of body' experience made me feel like some kind of rubber chicken in outer space; a sort of nebulous creature with a picture or relative grasp of my surroundings but also an overwhelming sense of vastness. I always find it the most challenging and productive to work in the realms that are the most uncomfortable and rewarding to find yourself in these worlds.

Dancers L-R: Rhonda Baker with Fresh Trak Mentee Vivika Ballard, and Sarah Rozee with Jacinte Armstrong
In this 'brainless state', as Sarah Rozee dubbed it, also comes a heightened sense of the present moment. I enjoyed the idea of imagining the universal fascia. It sort zips you right into the present moment when you consider being connected to everything else. Sara shared with us some philosophies from Erin Manning. In the text Manning explains the theory of technicity. I drew from it that this heightened sense of presence we felt from the 'out of body' exercise can create a sort of channel where creativity can flow and gain momentum. My interpretation is that the more we can both release or give into the physical  task and maintain our awareness and intention the more easily creativity will flow from us almost as though we are puppets being driven by this kind of momentous force driving us into the coming dance. It's more of a focused release than a rigid command to the body to do something. This was a new and exciting place for me!

Stay tuned to the blog as Sara gives you a glimpse into our incredible imaginary movement adventures and the beginning of our new journey!

Mocean Dancers for the new Coffin project: Sarah Rozee, Jacinte Armstrong, Rhonda Baker