Tuesday 8 February 2011

From first to second writing

In preperation for the workshops the participants were asked to write free flow one two occasions. First immediately after the performance; and second the following day. I naturally found it valuable to look at this unedited free flow material for any noticeable habits or features. One thing that emerged was difference between the first and second sets of writing, which might result from a combination of the time period elapsing and (perhaps more significantly) that this was the second time in which the participants had engaged in writing and in consciously reflecting on the performance. For example, there was a tendency for the descriptions of things seen in the first piece of writing to be fairly literal, often in a list format, while in the second piece of writing this developed into more constructed phrases and had a looser and more imagistic relationship with what had been seen. So in the first piece of writing Mike (from the writers group) writes a list of things seen:

Clocks, bodies, people controlled by music and time. Wasps, insects, wild
animals, stars and silver helium-filled balloons. Giant shadows, darker than the
back wall. [etc]

In the second piece of writing he writes of things seen in this manner:

Lovers connected by the skin of their faces, moving together because they were
stuck together. […] Clowns turning into animals, both reptile and mammal. […]
Boneless clowns, elastic men. [etc]

For other participants again it is in the second set of writing that these more evocative, imagistic, metaphorical phrases develop. As for example with:

Tormented by the body, frozen in stilted motion, a world in which normal
movement has become an unfamiliar thing (Peter – dance spectators group)
Bodies rippling like waves from top to bottom (Susan – writers group)

Just as the second pieces of writing have a freer or more developed voice in terms of their imagery so do their in terms of their interpretative and analytical engagement. For example, it is largely in the second pieces of writing that participants start making comparisons to other art forms or experiences (such as Waiting for Godot, David Bowie, Kurt Vonnegut, Brian Aldiss, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Buster Keaton) and largely in the second pieces of writing that they start speculating on the nature of dance or dance watching in a general sense.

Generally, therefore, the second pieces of writing have not a looser connection to the performance but somehow a freer connection. The writing, the reflection, the language, the phrases and reflective engagement have all developed, are all richer and more insightful.


  1. Dancing to me seems very alluring and magical! the way a body moves to the rhythm of the music is beautiful! I dance too but i am not even close to some professionals.

  2. Wordsworth had sussed this idea too - writing about lived experience as an 'overflow of powerful feeling' but, most importantly, 'recollected in tranquillity'