Wednesday 29 September 2010

First Writing Exercises

Between watching the performance and the workshop on the Saturday we asked each of the participants to complete a short writing exercise. For this we asked them to find somewhere peaceful to sit down for a moment and think about the performance, then write ‘free flow’ in response to the following prompts:

On the evening after the performance:
Write for two minutes about things you saw in the performance
Write for two minutes about things you thought in response to the performance
Write for two minutes about how you felt while you were watching the performance

On the following day:
Do these exercises again without looking at your writing from the previous occasion.

By ‘free flow’ writing we meant that participants should aim to keep their pen
moving for the whole time, try not to analyse what they were writing as they
were doing it, not worrying about punctuation or spelling, not correct mistake
and so forth.

In the workshops Sherry then asked participants to each select from their free flow writing the ten words that had the most resonance or significance to them. These were then read out, going round the circle of seven people out, one word at a time. This was entirely intended as a warm up exercise but became something interesting, a kind of collaborative 70 word poem (with resemblances perhaps to Tristan Tzara's Dada poems). As each word has its roots, its motivation and stimulaton from the evening of dance performances it somehow speaks of that performance. I've reproduced the two 70 texts, one from each workshop, here and it is noticable the similarities in word choices both within each text and across the two texts. Each contains a fair spread of descriptive, thematic and evaluative words:

Flow family symmetry charged control clocks pierrot
Posture comedy synchronicity movement spaces convulsions discordant
Gestures frustration disparate dispatching gridlines control frozen
Relationships mechanical crash spirals inflatables imitation blossoms
Interpretation melancholy alienated intentionality reflections machines relationships
Gasps hypnotic physical opposed attracts animals nostalgia
Space confrontational fluid form repel shadows station
Reason loneliness creative flowing clichéd clowns frenzy
Variable rivalry spaciousness naturalness engaged nightmare narrative
Preparedness loss narrative express between elastic physicality

Childlike stark repetitive tension children fluid alien Pierrot
Play lowry frozen release automata relationships twee music
Virtuosity desolation pain joyful muted reflection movement stars
Fluid agonising frustration exultation dying childlike disconnected gymnastics
Individuals sadness cyclical primal aching inclusive moonlit tinfoil
Repetition painful trapped feral tired rhythms hostile reflections
Timeless bleakness sadness fluidity floating lightness frustrated awakenings
Obsessive jerky restrictions fixation imbeciles airy distracting changes
Poignant bewildered anger embodiment order siblings history movements
Innocence strange helplessness raw motherless contrasts distorted control

Sunday 26 September 2010

The Most Sublime Noise

Sherry recalled the chapter in Forster's Howards End featuring a concert of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in the Queen's Hall and read the opening passage to both groups - its description of how everybody brings themselves, and their own particular way of listening/watching/responding, to performances of whatever kind is very apposite.

It will be generally admitted that Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man. All sorts and conditions are satisfied by it. Whether you are like Mrs. Munt, and tap surreptitiously when the tunes come--of course, not so as to disturb the others--; or like Helen, who can see heroes and shipwrecks in the music's flood; or like Margaret, who can only see the music; or like Tibby, who is profoundly versed in counterpoint, and holds the full score open on his knee; or like their cousin, Fräulein Mosebach, who remembers all the time that Beethoven is "echt Deutsch"; or like Fräulein Mosebach's young man, who can remember nothing but Fräulein Mosebach: in any case, the passion of your life becomes more vivid, and you are bound to admit that such a noise is cheap at two shillings. It is cheap, even if you hear it in the Queen's Hall, dreariest music-room in London, though not as dreary as the Free Trade Hall, Manchester; and even if you sit on the extreme left of that hall, so that the brass bumps at you before the rest of the orchestra arrives, it is still cheap.

Post-Workshop Thank You

Well, we all saw the performance by Rambert on Wednesday last week and then held the two writing workshops yesterday. They went very well, very interesting, still digesting things and over the next few weeks I will post details about what we did along with some of the writing that was produced and my own reflections on the process.

Very initial thoughts include some elements that are obvious: such as the writers group being much more familiar and comfortable with the task of writing in response to exercises design to produce writing; while the dance goers were much more fluent (and opinionated!) when it came to talking about the dances.

For now, however, thank you to all the participants for taking part and also to Sherry for running the day, and remember if you want to post anything by way of reflections or feedback or further writing on this blog you are very welcome.

Friday 10 September 2010

Welcome to Participants

As the performance on the 22nd Sept and the workshops on the 25th Sept come closer I will be inviting the people who will be taking part in this research project to read and possibly contribute to this blog.

So if you are one of the participants, then Welcome!

Whether you are an experienced dance spectator who is new to creative writing, or an experienced writer new to dance, the workshops are intended to be a fun, rewarding and revealling experience. This blog runs alongside the workshops and we'd like you to contribute to the extent you feel comfortable, including posting comments, thoughts and initial responses, material that you develop during the workshops and also any writing that you subsequently develop or polish after they are over.

The blog will allow you to see material written by participants from the other workshop running alongside the one you are participating it.

The blog will follow the normal rules of politeness and respectfulness and any inappropriate material or comments will be removed (although of course we are not expecting that there will be any).