Reflections on Phrases

I’ve been working on a piece that I’ve been calling ‘Phrases’ since December 2015

Initially, i squeezed out the core ideas for a work in progress platform at New College Nottingham called STEM that Ian Dolan invited me to show something at in January 2016. 

It was about 6-7 minutes long

It consisted of some improvised dancing some of which included images like pulling open my mouth with my finger like a fish hook. Some of it was whooshy improvised release dancing and some of it was really tense as if i were possessed or something. 

The dance practice came out of a two day workshop at Yorkshire Dance with Kirstie Simson and Charlie Morrissey just before Christmas 2015.

Kirstie Simson

Kirstie Simson

(I turned up to this workshop with my lip stitched together and a head injury as the previous week I had been knocked out in Nottingham on a night out which, in hindsight, could have been my fault for mouthing off but who really knows (this may have had some effect on my writing which ended up being about mouths quite a lot, also the fish hook in the lip thing)). 

Least graphic photo from the night in Nottingham taken by Liam Keown

Least graphic photo from the night in Nottingham taken by Liam Keown

What stayed with me from this workshop was Kirstie saying that you (a person, anyone) are enough on stage, your presence is your performance, you can own the space before you even do anything and fuck anyone who tells you you have to do something to impress the audience because that’s not what this practice is about. It’s about being honest on stage and doing your thing. This inevitably will make something that does impress the audience but that’s not the goal. Mary Prestige then said that you can then just throw them something impressive anyway because you can and you’re amazing. It was a very nice workshop. 

I called it Phrases as my main interest alongside the dancing was to put short phrases of text projected in the space behind the dancing. 

The text was developed through a kind of stream of consciousness practice, following it wherever if took me, attempting to undercut seriousness and to change topic through a slow fade of mish-mashing ideas. 

I developed some sound to go with this idea of a slow fade using a plethora of logic pro x synth sounds all piled on top of each other slowly getting louder over seven minutes ending with a rigid and morose electric piano motif. 

Over the past few weeks i’ve had Mondays and Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in studio 1 at the Attenborough Arts Centre. Phrases has been performed numerous times to date primarily at work in progress platforms in largely the same form. This time I want to extend it, open it up and try to really find out what it is and what it can be. I've found a genius way of directing the work as well which looks like this and in all reality is really difficult and not great but the best way I've found, but that's just making a solo for yourself I guess.

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I’ve managed to identify and solidify a bunch of different forms of improvisation structures i.e. defining what i’m allowed to do and what I’m not allowed to do in each state and what each state’s feel and emotive qualities are. I’ve managed to dig deeper into the text that I’ve written and find a way to use it as a through line. I’ve managed to extend the piece to around 45 minutes. I’ve managed to find a new way of using text in performance and today I realised after nearly two years of working on it that it’s kind of about dreams, but not, but kind of, but not really….but it is!