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Scrap The Template

on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 15:02

By Amie

On Monday I ran a costume design workshop for a kids arts company in Dulwich.  Something you may not know about me: I worked as an assistant to two costume designers when I first moved to London as one of my many ‘paying the bills’ jobs.  So I picked up some stuff, and now I occasionally use it to deliver workshops.

I’d been collecting scraps of material, fabric and paper for weeks.  I was up late on Sunday evening, cutting out human shaped templates for the kids to draw round as a base for their costume design, and because the only human shaped template I could find online was about a size 8, and because I have huge qualms with the media (and us) consistently reinforcing to young people the fact that a size 8 is ‘normal’, I stayed up extra late ensuring I had templates of all body shapes and sizes, ranging probably from  size 6 to a size 20; because I also believe that the tiny little things we do, and think carefully about can make a difference.  It’s all about the attention to detail, consciously rebelling against ‘the norm’ and expelling the clichés.

I ran four hour long workshops throughout the day, and in the third hour, I came up against a head-strong ten year old boy, who refused to use a template.

                “How do I draw a squirrel?”

                “Ah,” Says I, “You want to design a squirrel costume?  Well, if you just draw round the template, you can then design your squirrel costume on to the template.  How do you think you might make a squirrel costume for a human?”

He pulls a face at the template, one of the ones I was up until almost midnight cutting out.

                “I don’t want to use your template. I don’t want to design a human squirrel.   I just want to draw a squirrel.

Emerging Artists

on Tue, 02/10/2015 - 07:20

BY MARY PRICE O'CONNOR

Emerge   –L. emergere e- Ex + mergere  1.  to rise by virtue of buoyancy from or out of a liquid. -1721 2. To come up out of a liquid in which (the subject) has been immersed. Also to rise from under the earth. 1640 3.To come forth into view, issue, appear 1563    (OED) .

I would consider myself an emerging artist. I am 50. I really do feel that over the last four years, that I am rising by virtue of buoyancy from or out of a liquid. A liquid in which I have been immersed, for some time.

A liquid pool of skill-finding, listening, learning, living, gaining experience, also the earthy-grounding of raising my family, being wife, being an independent artist, being all the things I list about myself on twitter… silent film accompanist. violinist, dalcroze eurhythmics teacher, dancer, theatre maker, buddhist, feminist, daughter, sister mother, friend, lover.

In my seeking to learn, refine my practice I immerse myself again. Immerse, come forth into view. Immerse, come up for air. Rinse and repeat. And when I submerge, each time it is deeper, richer. 

Isn’t everyone, everyone who is creative and asking questions, isn’t everyone emerging all the time? 

Two Kinds of Idiocy

on Tue, 02/03/2015 - 19:06

JONATHAN BIDGOOD

I went to see a film at the science museum last weekend called 'Secrets of the Hidden World'. Divided into sections, Too Fast, Too Slow, Too Small, the film uses modern camera and microscopy techniques to make visible elements of the world around us that are completely invisible to our everyday sensoria. It's compelling watching, especially in 3D on the huge Imax screen at the back of the museum.

I noticed, however, that the film, made by National Geographic, is sponsored by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed are, of course, mostly famous for their manufacture of fighter jets, so their subtextual effort to sell themselves as great technical humanitarians throughout the films narration is a little rich. Each section ends with some speculation about the marvellous technology we could develop in imitation of the gecko's ability to climb up vertical glass, or the omnidirectional four-winged flight of the dragonfly. If all of the examples picked out look eminently weaponisable, well, perhaps that is no surprise.

Many of the best and brightest new ideas out there aren't new ideas at all. They are extensions of solutions that already exist in nature, part of the rapidly expanding field of biomimicry. Which makes total sense, really. After all, natural selection has been beavering away at these problems for millennia, with a trial and error test sample that boggles the mind and dwarfs the scale of all human endeavour. It would be beyond arrogant to just turn up and assume we can do better in our brief allotted span. Biomimicry is a sign of humility before natural process, even if using its lessons to build potentially devastating weapons is not.

We have a tendency, especially those of us who are adults, to assume that we mainly have things sorted out, that we are

Ready

on Tue, 01/27/2015 - 16:17

BY EMMA DEAKIN

The day has come. Spinning Coins, the dance/theatre show a group of us have been working on is here, it’s tonight! In literally a few hours’ time.

So, who is ‘us’: Hubert & Yuyu who are dancers and performers in the piece with me. Martyn who has designed sound & music. Dominic who has designed the lights.

I can’t help feeling ONE more day of rehearsal is needed, but hey, don’t we always feel like that before performing a piece for the first time? I was having a conversation last night with a friend about how usually the night before the first performance I’d be feeling ready and excited about an audience. Feeling it’s the right time now for the audience, the piece itself NEEDS an audience. This feeling was absent last night, and this is what I was speaking to my friend about. I tried not to let this worry me, but it was still a thing I noticed myself feel.

So I chanted this morning for an hour and a half before heading into the theatre. I am a Nichiren Buddhist and I chant to allow myself to see the potential in my life and the lives of others. I chanted for me and all of us in the project (theatre tech staff too) to have trust and confidence throughout the day with this piece. I have to be honest and say a wobbled several times during the tech. Doubted my ability and didn’t feel I was communicating all that well. Technical rehearsals can be tough for lots of reasons. Essentially though we’re all working toward the same goal, so in comes that trust and confidence again. Besides, rehearsals in general for this piece were sticky and clunky often, so it’s only expected the tech might be sticky and clunky too. Trust and confidence.

But what was great to notice was that during the first run through we got, after plotting and cuing everything, I had a

Stumbled across an emotion ladder

on Tue, 01/20/2015 - 23:19

By Connie Tancredi-Brice

I’ve stumbled across Abraham-Hicks Emotional Guidance Scale.

 

Jumping is tricky.

And could end in an oof.

 

I love to watch the transitions performed, the journeys between steps, the catalysts of movement. I feel relieved when an inert state is unstuck, at least changing and maybe even escalating to hope, passion or love. 

 

At this moment though, I recognise that it takes effort to go from anger to joy and if one is filled with doubt, enthusiasm may be a long way off. 

Less Talk More Action

on Tue, 01/13/2015 - 11:47

BY SARAH ROBERTSON

I said yes to writing this blog before I knew what I was going to write. To be honest I’ve typed the title and typed these words and I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to say. Hopefully it doesn’t show too much. I’m trying to say yes to things and then figure out how to do it rather than hesitate.  At least sometimes.

I feel quite ignorant with regards to politics and world affairs. I feel like I have an ok awareness but in 2015 I really want to be more aware and more involved. Not to go on protests necessarily (though maybe if I feel that is a way to make a stand) but to enter into the dialogue. To have a say. To try and make a change. To use my voice.

When you have certain political freedoms it can be easier to take that for granted. But I don’t feel like that’s an excuse anymore. I know plenty of people who are fighting for change, who use their voice and their words. Who do not sit back and say, “That’s happening over there.” Or “That won’t happen to me”. Ignorance is not bliss.

I read the “Daily Mail” app on my phone. It is littered (yes, operative word) with tabloid crap, celebs in various states of undress (posed or intrusively captured as they holiday or something) and gossip about nothing. For a long time I’ve been quite flippant with it.  I have quite a high trash aesthetic (a turn of phrase people who know me would have heard me use often) and I do enjoy brain switch off films and magazines. I still think Maccas for the mind can be ok. But the Daily Mail makes me feel…dirty. It brings nothing really positive. When the first thing you do in the morning is consume something that slanders people or essentially is a poorly written dialogue where there is no value…I keep thinking why?

I’ve said I’ll do it before but hey; sometimes

Putting My Dance Shoes Back On

on Mon, 01/05/2015 - 21:42

BY EMMA DEAKIN

Three weeks today I'll be dancing on stage in a new piece of work called Spinning Coins. It's contemporary dance. It's got spoken word; sometimes speaking while dancing sometimes not. It's got strong character. It's got original music and sound (by the wonderful Martyn Duffy). But it isn't finished yet... Likely won't be. Meaning that we're seeing it as a work in progress. Using it as an opportunity to develop ourselves further. 

There are three of us in the piece. Two professional dancer/choreographers and me. We're trying to merge dance/character/text and stretch ourselves creatively. I am feeling stretched. It will be the first time I've danced in a dance specific piece on stage in more than ten years. My body is moving and creating movement quite differently compared with my mid-20 year old self. 

As I get closer to our performance date (which is the 27th Jan by the way at The Place, details to be on social media soon…) I am dialoguing with my mid-20 year old self. Getting some advice from what I used to know, from the ME that danced a lot more, made dance a lot more. Here’s some things I am remembering and encouraging my mid-30 year old self with, mid-20 year old me is saying;

You actually know some more things now, about making new work and how to put it all together. Trust that.

You’re making movement with content, this is something I did, but not all the time. I liked to dance and make dance that was for dance’s sake sometimes. Which is fine. But you’re really trying to make movement and dance at the moment which is aiming to be very rich in content. It’s not easy. But keep going.

And then keep going some more. Be a tough task master, it might feel clunky and sticky but you will find the freedom within the movement. Trust that.

Where we've been and where we're going

on Tue, 12/30/2014 - 20:04

BY SHAKY ISLES

Members of Shaky Isles we asked what 2014 was for them and what they hope for 2015. Here are the responses...

Sarah Robertson

What has inspired me or something new I’ve learned in 2014...

That often my limitations are imposed by myself - when you push yourself or challenge those restrictions, the outcomes can be surprising!

What's my big determination / goal for 2015...

To be making more creative work; Really devoting time to writing (and maybe even performing). Want to be more consistent so a little and often creating rather then one off bursts.

And to be filled with gratitude and joy in my life. And to give that too.

Stella Duffy

What I learned in 2014 – that a cancer recurrence is both better and worse than I’d always feared; that friends and family can be astonishingly brilliant around illness – especially once they’ve had practice; that work is a brilliant distraction from pain; and that, given the opportunity, 3181 people around the UK and beyond will not only want to make community-led, locally-organised arts & sciences events (Fun Palaces) but they’ll be so brilliant at it that 60,000 people will come.

What I hope for 2015 – to stay healthy; to grow in my learning around my Fun Palaces work and to share the brilliance of (true) arts-for-all as widely as possible; to value and show my gratitude to loved ones; to seek out brilliant surprises (the rubbish ones will come anyway, sometimes it helps to look for the good ones).

Happy 2015 Shaky Isles-ers, I look forward to whatever we make (wherever we are) this year.

Mary Price O’Connor

I did , for my development a few things that turned out to be good choices in 2014. 

I set up my company - The Moving Theatre Lab and started working / making under that name. 

I did two dance classes a

Golden Reflections

on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 16:45

BY AMIE TAYLOR

Have you noticed how golden the light is at this time of year?    Everything looks as though it’s been touched by heaven, or Midas, or both. By mid-afternoon the trees are illuminated, standing bare and proud in the divine light.  And of course, they have every right to - they may look void of fruit or leaves, but buried in their core is life, just waiting, for the next year - a single streak of green, that will bring whole new abundance in 2015.  

My alarm has been getting ignored a little later every day for the past week - the dark does not entice me out of bed.  I’m tired, it’s been a long year - not as hard as a lot of people’s, I know that.  But I’ve worked harder than in any other year, at lots of different things.  The limited daylight is taking it’s toll on my emotions, tugging the string to my tear bucket more often than usual, and frequently at ‘silly’ things.  I’m less motivated than I was earlier in the year and feel sleepy a lot.  I’m generally uninspired and find it takes me a little longer to get going in the mornings. Does anyone else feel like this in the mid-winter?

A couple of months ago, on the brink of autumn, I felt sure and ready to harvest the rewards of a busy and hardworking year, I felt as though I’d sown lots of seeds, surely some things were bound to come to glorious fruition?  I was expecting something grand to happen, yet as the year began to roll up and curl over in to winter, I was left waiting, every now and then the small glimpse of a golden opportunity would arise, but nothing concrete, nothing here, now or tangible.

Mothers Who Make

on Tue, 11/25/2014 - 14:35

BY MARY PRICE-O'CONNOR

I am a mother who makes. Who has always made. My first child was born in 1991, I subsequently had two more. Lorcan is 23, Lily is 21 and Sian is 17.

When they were little I took them with me to rehearsals, I breastfed Sian whilst playing piano for childrens’ ballet lessons. Sian came to my string quartet rehearsals, to rehearsals with performance artist Houria Naiti. She danced to the music. I left them with their father when I had gigs. I paid a babysitter for the zone between when I left and when he came back from work. I taught violin and piano from home, I took them with me when I taught at other children’s houses.

My friend was performing at Riverside with Paines Plough when Lorcan was about 9 months old. Ken Campbell, who was performing his one man show in the same venue did a daytime performance for them and I took Lorcan.

When Lorcan was 18 months old his father and I were involved with a show and Lorcan came along to rehearsals. He enjoyed the spacious rooms at Fulham Dance Attic. I left him at the crèche at BAC whilst  I did some R&D there at a similar age. I played in a band throughout my pregnancy with Lorcan and was filmed a video with another band playing violin when I was very pregnant with Lily.

In 2003 their father set up a silent film society. The children  came. I accompanied, he projected. The children helped and watched. They saw about 40 silent films over a period of three years.

Was I  “successful” ? No. was I “known? “No . Did I have an agent? No. Did having children stop me being creative? No. Was it easy? No. Is it ever easy?

The children were apprentices to my creative life. They were companions. I was always prepared. Toys, books, drawing things. Snacks. I didn’t stop working I didn’t stop mothering.

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