I’ve just finished working in the studio with Bagryana Popov. She and I have been working together on a solo work since October 2007 when we started work in Bitola (Macedonia). Since then we’ve spent time in the studio in Sofia (Bulgaria), and Melbourne (three times?). We’ve also found that two other projects we’d begun started to merge with this one, and it has been interesting to sense how different ideas ‘took hold’ and then faded into the background a bit. It’s also one of those rare projects in which we have time and space to test ideas and to allow them to mature ??? we ensured the work is not funding dependent, and simply found ways to make it happen.
Although Bagryana started the work with quite a strong idea — “the body at the receiving end of power” — she’s allowed the timing and development of the project to develop at its own pace, and we’ve both found the model of short rehearsal periods interspersed with long research/reflective periods to be highly conducive to our working relationship, and the quality of the work itself.
One of the key issues about the performance of the work has been about how to negotiate the balance between choreographed and improvised actions and scenes. We both liked the ‘liveness’ of the rehearsal studio, in which new physical possibilities were constantly being afforded (or manifest) by my dropping in to the more psychologically initiated rehearsed materials. Even though we’ve had two weeks in the studio in this last rehearsal iteration, it wasn’t until the third week that we started to think of the scenes as a collection of ‘guides’ which I could choose to perform at any time (including repetitions). At the same time, I am given the freedom to keep exploring or seeking alternative routes, combinations, sensations and attention during the performance.
This last component — a way of framing and performing these deeply embodied materials (‘embodied’ simply because of the amount of time we have spent working in the studio, and our beginning to understand the nuances of the actions) — fell into place quite rapidly. That is, the work became ‘complete’ even though we weren’t expecting this. It was as if we’d kept questioning how the experiences of freshness and attention in the studio work might remain present in the performances, and then once this was ‘solved’ the work was ready.
I’m reminded here of writing (long) literature reviews when the organisation and rhythm of the writing starts to ‘make sense’ because of how long you’ve spent working through the materials. It is not (I think) a process of forcing an outcome, but simply staying with the ideas long enough for your understanding to emerge; that making each decision is, in effect, made very simple because of your strengthened ability to assess each decision’s worth.
I’ll upload some video once I get some access to a video camera.