Some reflections, midway through the ANIMoid adventure.

Some reflections, midway through the ANIMoid adventure.

by Katarina Eriksson
(Winter Artist in Residence in collaboration with Cathie Caraker)

One of the breeding grounds for this project is the subtext of two aliens who have come to earth and inhabited human bodies. I do think of it as a dance piece (as opposed to a dance theater piece), where the human body with all its fascinating functions is the protagonist. The alien idea seems to provide us with pretty much endless inspiration, and it works as a container for the research. Cathie and I share an interest in movement that is on the outer edges of modern dance vocabulary. We like to start from a place of not-knowing when we look for movement material. One of the things that has become a little bit like the “pliés” of our rehearsals is the cultivation of a beginner’s mind; an ongoing practice in staying in the present moment – innocent and questioning at the same time.

This makes for an interesting balancing act now, when we have started to shape things and move into more and more defined material, and away from open exploration. It will be interesting to see if we can keep this attitude going as we are getting closer to an actual “product”. I hope so. In fact, I think it is essential for this piece.

I notice how the alien-in–a-human-body-idea has started to seep into my daily life experiences. I find myself chewing on a sandwich while looking at a shadow on the wall, and register the connection between my different sensory input (visual, tactile, taste-based). I enjoy the somewhat paradoxical experience of detachment on one hand and strong sense of presence on the other that this breaking down of mundane human experience brings. For me, this becomes like poetry and it strikes a feeling that I see this piece grow from and that I want to share with the audience. It has something to do with the dance between recognition and surprise, “natural” and eccentric, and maybe, visceral and clinical.

I like the idea of a base of organic, body-logical progression, contrasted with unexpected changes of mood/trajectory/expression.

As we discuss the approach to sound, I start to imagine a similar attitude. The base being “sounds of the world”- environmental sound that supports or co-exists with our different body states, interspersed with directly contrasting or commenting choices of music. We have already started to experiment with a dance, based on the early developmental movement pattern called mouthing, to Maria Callas singing: an example of one of those unexpected turns in the ANIMoid evolution. When we did that piece in the first work-in progress showing somebody said that it looked like we were eating the music. That comment made me feel like we are on the right track…

As I scribble this, I am reminded how limited language is. What is experienced in a few seconds has so much more detail and nuance than words (at least mine) can even begin to describe. To end, though, let me share a few quotes from people with a gift for words, which I find inspiring in connection to this project.

The felt sense is sometimes vague, always complex and ever changing. It moves, shifts, and transforms constantly. It can vary in intensity and clarity enabling us to shift our perceptions… Through the felt sense we are able to move, to acquire new information to interrelate with one another and, ultimately, to know who we are. It is so integral to our experience of being human that we take it for granted, sometimes to the point of not even realizing that it exists until we deliberately attend to it.
-Peter A Levine, Waking the Tiger, Healing Traum
My belief is in the blood and flesh as being wiser than the intellect. The body-unconscious is where life bubbles up in us. It is how we know that we are alive, alive to the depths of our souls and in touch somewhere with the vivid reaches of the cosmos.
-DH Lawrence
I am I because my little dog knows me…
-Gertrude Stein

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