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

Friday, 18 October 2013

My Mother's Kitchen - Choreographer's Musings

In the name of Sarah Bonnemaison's installation and performance exhibition entitled: My Mother's Kitchen, the Exhibition Hall in Dalhousie's School of Architecture has become a creative hotbed for explorations in technology, furniture moveability,  movement, and costume design.

As the choreographer for this project I am thrilled to be working with Susanne Chui, Sarah Rozee and Jacinte Armstrong of Mocean Dance alongside architect and art director Sarah Bonnemaison, media artist Lukas Pearse,  costumer/ textile artist Robin Muller and computer programmer Ben Swinden.  Thanks to Sarah Bonnemaison for her generosity of spirit and her intellectual rigour, and for giving me the space to explore my own ideas so thoroughly with the dancers.  I am enjoying the integration of conceptual, historical and practical investigation. I am excited by the intellectual level of conversation that the dancers are prepared to have as part of our explorations. These dancers are intellectual movers and thinkers with a ''can do" attitude that supports the depth of research that layers this project. More importantly is their willingness to experiment with physicalising concepts as part of the transposition into movement ideas. We are finding some wonderfully appropriate and sophisticated movement ideas that support the underlying concepts of the project.

Then there is the active interdisciplinarity of the project in the room. Over the past two weeks we have made great progress in bringing the research together. It is easy to separate off and work in discipline-isolation on a project. Arguably that is how most collaborations go. However, it can't work effectively to do that in this case (or in any really, in my opinion.) Mocean Dance and I are working towards a 30 minute performance that will take place in an existing installation exhibition and so it is crucial that part of the process includes discussion about the elements of interaction already expected to be established in the installation components, and as a continuation of that discussion those expected to be used in the performance by the dancers. I am not interested in duplicating the existing interaction experience for the viewer in the performance. By establishing a time frame on the performance of 30 minutes I want this interaction to be adventurous, creative and rigorous, enhancing less apparent aspects of the research while revealing both our discipline-specific and our interdisciplinary collaborative process(es) in performance.

We are working with 5 kitchen zones that span decades and countries- each zone has its own kitchen design and specific interactive components. It has been rewarding to locate the different research ideas across disciplines within each of these kitchen zones. We now feel like we are working towards a common goal and this will allow us to explore ideas together, informed and influenced by each other. The time working independently of other disciplines was of course important, however the heart of the work is in bringing these ideas together- to animate the exhibition and to build connections between design, motion, and interaction across the entire exhibition site.

We opened the doors on our experiments on Wednesday 16th October. Fresh eyes brought useful  and passionate perspectives and we are able to continue these explorations knowing that the connections are reading to people outside of our immediate working environment, and supporting Sarah Bonnemaison's core ideas. I look forward to the rest of this process. I am so happy that we get to develop this further for the premiere in May 2014. I can look forward to spending more time in Halifax, which has stolen a piece of my heart as has the gracious and talented Mocean!