On March 3-5, 2017, Developing your choreographic voice is the first creative programme of its kind which Serendipity has co-ordinated. As a participant myself, I can assure our readers to say that this event has been a success and is going to act as a seed that continually grows and develops as a programme within Serendipity.
The weekend began with the artists – Cameron McKinney, Catherine Dénécy, and Sheron Wray; sharing a brief statement about their practice. The first artist to teach was Cameron McKinney. This man is phenomenal. His movement style and choreography is reflective to his individuality as an emerging artist. He gave us a class of Contemporary Loft Technique – a technique he is developing that consists of a unique blend of house dance, capoeira, contemporary floorwork, and various street dance styles. The movements he taught us were fast, energetic, and at times sassy. I was shook when he did a death drop! (Unfortunately, he didn’t teach that to us – sad face). If you don’t know what this is, I highly recommend looking it up. After this, he gave us a session of one of his choreographic processes inspired by the American choreographer, Doug Varone. From the movement he taught us, we were given a chance to explore his process through ensemble work. The method easily produced a piece of choreography there and then; and it only took him 10-15 minutes to make the choices that he made.
After our lunch break, we took Catherine’s class. She is full of life and energy! Call her Kristina, Maria or other names, she will embody the name with integrity! This residency was her first opportunity to lead others and share her practice. Her practice is uniquely different, something that I have never done before and it was glorious! We were already warm and physically tense from Cameron’s class, so she took us to a place of relaxation. An exercise used by actors and performers to release the tension in one’s body. A kind of body graphic whilst sat on a chair with a ‘bad boy’ posture – chilled. In the second half of this session, we explored Catherine’s method of improvisation by using sensuous memory as a score to create movement. She has introduced them to us as 5 Dimensions of improvisation.
- 1st dimension: the world in which the moment happens: you are IN it (where am I? when is it happening? what do I see, taste, smell…etc)
- 2nd dimension: the object/person sharing the moment with you: you are WITH it (who am I with?)
- 3rd dimension: the emotion(s) you are experiencing: you are IT (how do I feel? why this moment?)
- 4th dimension: the music (the only dimension we share with audience, therefore we need to honour it…take advantage of that)
- 5th dimension: the space (the place you dance in, ex: the theatre but also more precisely where on the stage you decide to dance)
The experience felt very nostalgic. Creating art in the moment whilst thinking about the past is an overwhelming experience. We were creating movement with our eyes closed yet the aura in the room felt so strong that it left some participants emotionally engulfed in the moment. We then finished the session with an improvisation jam full of consciously embodied movements, energies, and love for dance. It was beautifully spiritual.
And for Sheron Wray’s class, we explored improvisation which originated from the Ewe people of Ghana called seselame – a predominant sense among the Ewe in the use of embodiology to express the movement, gesture or facial expression of individuals. We were also accompanied by a live musician Cosimo, playing dynamic rhythms and were given the challenge to explore the various rhythms through clapping and adding another layer of rhythm through the repetitive thumping of our feet. It is safe to say, I struggled with this task. At one point, I was given a cow bell instrument to provide the rhythm for dancers to generate movement patterns to. At times I had it, and at times I messed up. But I am glad I went through this experience because I could sense in myself, that I was fully aware of using my hearing sensory to listen to the rhythm closely. She has developed this idea of rhythm by adding speech to the task – verbally speaking a sentence with varied pitch and tonal registers whilst moving across the floor. I am not a fan of hearing my voice but everyone was supportive and enthusiastic at exploring their voice.
Taking part in Developing your choreographic voice residency has been one of the most inspiring and innovative courses that I have been a part of. I am astounded by the wealth of knowledge that I have learned from the artists and participants alike – and to share the space with wonderful people who enjoy creating art gives so much life! Cameron, Catherine and Sheron’s method of teaching were unique to their own practice, however, their delivery felt connected to each other somehow. It is refreshing to learn about the diverse practices that come from the African culture and how it is used to create art in sacred spaces. It is even more uplifting to identify that there was a diverse range of age groups and artists with diverse interests within the arts such as circus artists, musicians and dance lovers alike. This to me shows that Serendipity has created this programme to invite like-minded artists who want to develop and find their voice in the artistic platform they are in. Lastly, I am very happy to have shared a nice moment with each and every one! And I thank them all for their generosity, courage, and trust.