by Clint Lutes
Several times throughout the month of July, Monica Gillette and I were shown that a valuable journey doesn’t always resemble the version of it that we imagined. The theme of the month is Interactivity and we planned to work with tools that were developed as part of Misalliance, a production we created together in 2013 based on non-verbal communication between audience and performer. The beginning of this month, however, proved that the issue of bridging the research gap between dance and science into the studio space was more imminent and intriguing and we asked ourselves how Interactivity could bridge this gap.
What we understood through trial and error is that in order to do this, we need to better understand the physical spaces and mental situations of the people we are collaborating with. This desire led us on a physical and verbal dialogue with some of the scientific students, in our studio as well as in their labs or working spaces. These exchanges helped us to understand the backgrounds of the students, and vice versa, and in turn helped us to understand that Interactivity is not only communication or relationship to spaces and things, but also a generosity and engagement in one another’s daily reality. I feel this engagement has opened a level of trust and accessibility that did not exist previously.
The initial trial and error led us to create a series of tasks combining moving and speaking simultaneously about the project’s themes and each individual’s research. One would move while engaging in a specific task (move with waves/water or a roller coaster in the body) and when ready, would begin speaking about their research/project. What we discovered was the scientist’s relative ease at monologuing a research description, even while moving. What ensued were both sides (scientists vs. Monica and I) searching for ways to find a vulnerability in the movement and verbal dialogue, searching for questions that threw us a bit off, engaging in movement and manipulation that revealed a different side of what we’ve been researching/discussing.
Monica and I came to better understand these tasks and the steps necessary to access a physical ease for participants less experienced in movement, and to help them enter into a dialogue combining physical and verbal/mental practice. We discovered that a majority of them based their research group choices on who they would be working with, rather than what they would be working on. All of this has also led to a certain line of questioning that helped to show a direction on which we can build further research practices and has perhaps revealed bigger questions involved in the current project.
This engagement has also proven invaluable in the development of our process with the Parkinson’s Dancers, creating trust that allows a deeper body research and exploration. Professional and personal lines are disappearing or evolving, and certain affinities are developing as in an interdependent community.
Personally, the writings of the Parkinson’s Dancers have been some of the most inspiring and motivating factors in this project. In addition, simply entering their lives, offering them my knowledge as an “expert” on movement, and gaining their insight as “experts” on movement disorder, has been humbling to say the least.
I feel a responsibility toward their well-being, toward our “research” together and to providing ample questions and answers for our time together. And I feel rewarded and valued. And that is amazing.
What is the most amazing to observe is the transformation and evolution of interpersonal connections, the elusive becoming tangible, the colleague becoming friend becoming someone you respect and admire. People. People doing amazing things, or trying to, but who are present with each other and pushing their limits. We are on a very special interactive ride (filled with love, life and lasers!).