Everything in you will want to do the habitual thing, will want to pursue the story line. The story line is associated with certainty and comfort. It bolsters your very limited, static sense of self and holds out the promise of safety and happiness. But the promise is a false one; any happiness it brings is only temporary. The more you practice not escaping into the fantasy world of your thoughts and instead contacting the felt sense of groundlessness, the more accustomed you’ll become to experiencing emotions as simply sensation — free of concept, free of story line, free of fixed ideas of bad and good. — Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully (p.17)

Attention was an exploratory collaborative process between Elizabeth Johnson and Simon Ellis hosted by S’ALA in Sassari, Italy from 3 - 14 October, 2023. The practice explored the role of attention and judgement in somatic and movement practices. We worked with idiosyncratic versions of two practices — authentic movement and Alexander Technique — and felt deeply their impermanence and curious resistance to being documented and described.

Some notes:

  • we were committed to an exploratory process that yields no product
  • the experience of coping with the familiarity and unfamiliarity of these practices and this fluid way of working
  • we let the experience dictate and emerge with clear but minimal roles and parameters
  • we noted a resistance to defining process and experience (even though we called it authentic movement, was it exactly that?)
  • the paradox of intimate yet impersonal” — this is happening to me but am I able to observe it happening in a detached way?
  • the residency space as private/sacred laboratory

Elizabeth Johnson is a somatic educator and practitioner who teaches at the University of Florida’s College of the Arts. Her work integrates aesthetics, anatomy, kinesiology, and somatic inquiry into embodied movement practices.

Simon Ellis is a choreographer and artist based at the Centre for Dance Research at Coventry University. His practices include movement improvisation, videography, photography and writing.

Supported by C-DaRE — the Centre for Dance Research — at Coventry University, and the University of Florida’s College of the Arts.


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