The Gift of Movement

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While a lot of the experiments have been visually driven, there is some movement happening here at the Bundanon Dance Lab. On Friday afternoon, Leigh got all the participants to pair up for a movement exercise. The idea was for each person to come up with a movement gesture or phrase and “gift” it to their partner, who then receives the movement into their body, sort of doing it over and over until they’ve completely “accepted” the “gift.” And then, once part of their body vocabulary, to transform it into something that appeal to them.

Doris, Fu Kuen and Jerome gamely joined this exercise (while I, the dancer among the facilitators, did not), and partnered up with Ly Ly, Simon and Vicki respectively. Doris and Ly Ly didn’t quite understand the exercise and were passing imaginary objects to each other, on the subject of “gifting.” It was like watching them play catch with unknown energies and it was actually really fun to watch, though Leigh had to reinform them of what the exercise was really about. Doubtful though if the others did get the real purpose of the exercise as both Fu Kuen and Simon, and Vicki and Jerome were mirroring each other and not really “gifting.” Cat and Rhiannon also seemed to be finding some sort of movement, though it was not clear where the movement began and where it became reprocessing. Fortunately, this was addressed with better explanation from Leigh the next day.

Interesting movement exchange did happen on Friday, with Latai and Fitri, to the point where Latai had danced away from Ly Ly, in her pursuit of reprocessing Fitri’s movement into her own body and coming up with something new.

On Saturday morning, Leigh gave a nice warm up that mobilized several points of the body, making sure that the body was ready for movement for that day, and asked the group to pair up with somebody new. Before I could disappear, Vicki was beside me like a kangaroo. At the end of the exchange, Leigh asked each pair to present what they came up with.

Leigh and Ly Ly started the presentation, with Leigh showing us the movement Ly Ly gifted him and then the movement it turned into. You could see the difference of styles with the juxtaposition of original movement with transformed movement, and how each were very Leigh and very Ly Ly.

Vicki and I went next. I gave a simple weaving of the arms around my crown, my eyes, my chest and waist, to which Vicki applied her whole body, incorporating rhythms and jumps. She taught me an interesting opposition exercise which was meant for Fitri, and I slowed down and speeded up the movements, and gave it different directions, though I think the original was eons better. Alfira was supposed to join us, but time had run out for us to receive her movement phrase.

Cat and Latai performed their transformed movements together, and they seemed to be doing the same movement, but with different qualities: Latai’s was softer, with an almost melting into herself effect, while Cat’s was strong and aggressive. The contrast was quite awesome.

Rhiannon and Jerome did a mirroring exercise with their hands, and it was interesting how each “understood” the movement that they shared.

Fitri and Simon were “Two turtles who fall in love.” They stood far away from each other at opposite sides of the room and slowly made their way to the floor and crawled towards each other, waiting for “What’s next?” before Fitri gave a loud laugh and scramble to standing position, signaling the end of the exercise.

The next day, after Leigh warmed us up for the last time, new pairings were formed and performed. Simon and Latai were this time gecko and turtle, respectively – Latai has been gifting the same movement to all her movement partners to see how they receive them. It is based on a gecko, which Latai has adopted as her symbol (or as far as how I understand it) with a head accent that is traditionally an improvisational gesture in Tongan dance. In return, Simon taught Latai the turtle movement and they looked sweetly like two animals making their way to dry land, and away from the rising sea levels.

Rhiannon and Ly Ly exploded in their own spaces, sharing very volatile bursts of movement with each other. Jerome and Cat played around with similar movements that grew away from each other then pulled together when you least expected it.

Fitri and Vicki both shared very similar movements as well and made a little skit of walking “same” (same arm same leg moving together) and “different” (arms and legs in opposition). Vicki had a running commentary all the while she and Fitri moved through the space with their different strides.

This piqued everyone’s interest so much that all started to move same and different strides, and would even attempt it randomly for the rest of the day.

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