Movement & Voice Improvisation -Experiments with Dancers #1

At the Artistic Doctorates in Europe research in/as motion intensives (Stockholm), I shared my practice of improvising with movement and voice, and using film editing tools to layer both modalities into film.

By extending this practice to other dancers, I was able to see how the technique produces specific knowledge about a dancer’s expressive qualities. From my observations,  I found that the live narrative offers a tool for amplifying the affectio of the dancing experience.

The resulting films expose how the use of languaging can reveal aspects of the affective experience of dancing. In watching the juxtaposition of voice and movement, I pay attention to the emotional tone in the voice, the phrasing in language, and the oscillation between imagining and the somatic experience of dancing that refers to something within the moving experience. The layering technique produces some fascinating movements of rhythmic synchronicity with other moments of friction. The overall effect of layering recreates the elements, yet it goes beyond representation of the dance. It creates a moving image with a new expressive dimension.

In these three choreographic experiments, dancers dance improvise for 3 minutes and continue with 3 minutes of voice improvisation. From this exercise, I produced three short videos, layering the voice over the movement.

Robert Vesty’s improvisation:

Robert offered me his reflections in response to this exercise. He wrote,

I was really taken with the exercise of improvising dance and then improvising words subsequently, because my recent practice has been concerned with ‘locking’ these two activities together simultaneously. I was particularly struck with how, when we look at the video to see what has been produced, we see (or want to see!) the correspondence between movement and words, even though we know also that they were produced a little separately. Are we just addicted to meaning-making and inherently look for all the nooks and crannies to do it?

The exercise also keyed into my current interest in resonance and ‘channeling’. I’m wondering how this happens and whether perhaps an effective strategy is one which appears to me to be about a softness or ease in the remembering or tracing of what’s gone before – a ‘middle’ kind of place.

Robert referenced the lineage of choreographers that informed his movement and voice practice,

Thanks for sharing this stimulating strategy which I will undoubtedly continue to use in my explorations. Now, crucially, I want to credit the teachers I have been following since 2012 (when my project ‘Material Words for Speaking Dancers’ began) because of their influence on my artistic practice. This may be evident to some in the clip you’ve shared above. I have studied with Ruth Zaporah (US) and other teachers of her Action Theater form, but since 2013 I have studied most extensively with Julyen Hamilton (UK/SPAIN) and I have been very much inspired by his use of spoken text in dance. In 2014 I met and studied with Billie Hanne (BELGIUM) who explicitly deals with the instant composition of both dance and poetry in the performance moment and she has influenced the development of my work considerably. In some ways, and to varying extents, I have appropriated these practitioners’ work in my own which builds on my own background as an actor and more recently a dancer to extend towards what I’m thinking of as a ‘hyper-theatrical poetics’ in instant composition.

Sally E. Dean’s improvisation:


Claire French’s improvisation:

From this technique, I am interesting in what it produces and how it offers tools for performance-making.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s