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our process + performance example

~from a survey request in 2010 & example of said process from performance at 2008 Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation~

Margaret’s Ghost HD-complete

  1. Describe the style/genre of dance you work in:

Contact Improvisation

  1. How many years have you been presenting your own dance works (choreographed or improvised)?

33 years- 7 in modern dance, 26 and counting in C.I.     I’ll be describing the process of making dance performance pieces with Patrick Gracewood, my Contact Improvisation dance partner for over 20 years.

  1. Define the phases of your project process from initial phase to final form:

We begin by noticing what is. This means arriving and beginning by noticing what we are noticing. We notice what calls our attention, what is happening, what wants to happen? The noticing is all-inclusive, so beginning may occur in any way. We have begun rehearsals dancing, but also sleeping, eating, crying, flying, talking, gawking…..     We’re curious about what happens when we attend to what’s there, what wants to emerge. We follow that. Asking, allowing, noticing- going where it takes us. Acknowledging where we are takes us where we need to go. We watch the process unfold. We watch the process reveal the piece in all its elements; it’s nature, structure, sound, costume, environment etc. We notice when the piece is complete and how it wants to change as we perform it.

  1. What would you say are the biggest obstacles for getting your work from the initial stages to an endpoint:

Forgetting to trust in the process. Various kinds of stress can cause us to forget that the process will show itself to us. When that happens we go into trying to make something up and have to work harder for a much less satisfying experience.

  1. What would be the top three factors that have made your projects a success:

Remembering to notice what is, whatever that is. Trusting in, relaxing in the process. Following the process as it reveals itself.

  1. What would be the top three factors that could cause distress during your process:

The primary factor is losing the fluid awareness of what is as it is changing. If a particular stress consumes the attention then that stress becomes distress instead of simply more information in the process. Such loss of perspective has occurred when facing things such as time constraints, forms of performance anxiety, unconscious expectations and assumptions, etc.

  1. Working with other dancers either as a leader or in collaboration, how do you develop dances:

I let the noticing of what is lead and reveal. The majority of my experience has been in collaboration with one other, but the process I’m describing is also how we’ve worked with groups. I was creating modern dance pieces, solo and group, in much the same way, but had not identified the process yet.

  1. Has there ever been a reason or situation that caused you not to be able to realize your project as you had hoped or imagined:

One phase of exploration was to dance ‘anybody, anywhere, anytime’. On numerous occasions particular non-negotiable rules or laws prevented us from realizing projects.

  1. How has your process changed from your initial projects to your present process:

The process has remained the same; it happened to us. Change came in the need to recognize and name it. This happened when we started working with other dancers. We quickly recognized that our process was unusual and therefore needed to be defined to avoid confusion and frustration. We needed to articulate the idea of being present with curiosity and awareness as a means to follow the piece’s unfolding.

  1. What is it about your process that works for you:

It is fun and easy. Exhilarating and relieving to refer to and rely on what is, moment by moment. Magical and comforting to know that what needs to be revealed will be. We get to relax because we trust in the unfolding. It’s energizing to bring the whole self to the moment. It’s mysterious and exciting while being obvious and grounded.

  1. Have you ever been part of another person’s process that you liked but have not used in your own work?   Why?

No, can’t think of that situation. If I like something I want to integrate it, if I don’t I let it go.

  1. Have you ever been part of another person’s process that you liked and used in your own process? Why?

I’ve included the form Authentic Movement in my process since being introduced to it. It provides a foundation of self-study in awareness and movement, a perfect preparation for exploring how we improvise with others in C.I. In general I am drawn to and influenced by systems that explore principles in C.I.

  1. Have you ever been part of another person’s process that you did not like? Why?

Yes, once we experimented with joining another person’s process. We quickly discovered that her process was very different than ours. Experiencing the contrast was useful to identify the distinction. Her process was to bring in ideas for our bodies to realize. Ours was to begin with the body to discover the ideas. The focus was trying to make something instead of being curious about what was already there. We noted a greater tendency for body/psyche injury in the idea driven approach compared to our experience of a tendency toward healing when allowing awareness of what is to inform the thinking. Moving from the outside in rather than the inside out was more effort and less satisfying.


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