Each year at uni, we are required to do a corridor exhibition. As my work becomes more film and digital-based, this has become more of a challenge. To get around this, I installed my film at uni using a QR code. The viewer scans the code on their phone, and my first ‘Balancing’ film plays on their device.
My friend James was able to help put the film online, without having to use YouTube or Vimeo (which can get clunky). The code is shown both alone and on a ‘stage’, which gives the feel that the film is a performance.
I’ve had a break from the tightrope over Christmas and New Year (it hasn’t been up) but I got back into handstand practice today. I’m able to hold myself upside down against a wall for around 15 seconds, but still not strong or confident enough to kick up backwards into a wall handstand, but I’m fully intending to keep practicing.
Have had a couple of weekends away from the tightrope, as it’s not been up, so have spent the time working on other balancing techniques and exercises. I’m still working towards doing a handstand, and the exercises I’m doing are definitely increasing my upper body strength- albeit slowly, as I’ve never really done any form of physical performance/sport. I have a vague recollection of doing gymnastics when I was little, but I wasn’t very good and I HATED going upside down! I realise now that a lot of that had to do with having bad eyesight and wearing glasses.
I did some more balancing at Fabrica for the experimental life drawing class last week, and it was interesting how quickly I was able to walk along my practice beam without falling- 5 mins, as opposed to half an hour! Also great to see the kind of drawings people made of a moving, balancing figure. It’s really good for me to practice balance skills whilst not on my own too- doing anything in front of an audience, whether they are drawing or just watching- is really challenging.
I’ve also been working more on my shoe balance performance- it’s an idea I liked and keep returning to, and I wondered how improving my balancing skills may change things. Turns out I am able to stand on one leg, in a high heel, for some time, and to step in and out of shoes more smoothly.
I’m unsure if the visual of someone stepping in and out of shoes is a little too obvious a metaphor for the ‘precariousness’ of performative femininity, but it’s a good place to start. My wish to start balancing practice is rooted in theory anyway, so it seems to be a natural progression.
A friend of mine, who is currently doing a practice-based phd based around circus, lent me a really interesting book by Dr Camilla Damkjaer, ‘Homemade Academic Circus’- about the writer (an academic) learning circus as a non-performer, and exploring how she can learn and explore theory and ideas through the process of learning physical techniques.
I came across this youtube clip of one of her ‘performance lectures’. It would be great to speak to her about this, if at all possible.
I feel I’m getting a little better, although my balance and concentration were a bit off this week as I’m in the midst of pretty bad PMS.
Coincidentally, this weekend I went to see Dr Marissa Carnesky’s ‘The Incredible Bleeding Woman’- a multi-disciplinary show about menstruation that I’ve been wanting to see for quite a while. A number of performers create menstrual rituals- some are funny, some are quite moving, and it was really inspiring to see female performers fearlessly confronting such a taboo subject onstage in a variety of different ways: magic, monologues, dance, video and even hair-hanging. A really great section on trans-feminism too. Specifically, it made me think more about the physical ways that my cycle can affect me and the things I do.
I always find my balance and co-ordination are somewhat lacking at certain times of the month, and my body is considerably more sensitive to pain and discomfort too (I found this out when getting tattooed in my 20s!). However, I had not thought about how much it may affect skills that rely on these things, and how perhaps this could be incorporated instead of forced out.
Fortunately at this week’s practice, dressing up was encouraged for Halloween, so the next picture is me, enjoying myself dressed as a clown:
I’ve also been returning to ideas about clowning- specifically how clowns are all about projecting thoughts, feelings and ideas onto an audience. This ties in nicely with the working title of my current project (Balancing|Projecting), and I’ll look into this a bit more over the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, today whilst life modelling at Fabrica (where I was asked to do a circus theme) I found I could hold longer standing poses than usual…my core strength is improving, though I didn’t think it would be that noticeable so quickly!
Today I managed my first full tightrope walk, which feels like a huge step, especially since it was only my second time on the rope. I made the most of a three hour open practice session, and learnt some useful tips from some of the other people practicing there.
Genuinely, the more I do it, the easier it gets. Currently, when I make it to the other side it feels a bit like a fluke, so I’m looking forward to finding out how it might feel to be able to do it more confidently. Learning to do something like this with absolutely zero circus experience (outside of random clowning!) is incredibly rewarding, and worth the zillion times I fall off. I’m keeping a track of my practice over on instagram, if you want to see videos etc. Here’s some photos:
I’m learning at High Top Circus, a local circus school run by some brilliant friends. They do all sorts of classes- mostly aerial- and are great.
A test run of a shoe balance, performed across four phones. Making a single figure travel across multiple phones will require more precision in both filming and performance. ie the film playing on the far right will need to have stillness for the amount of time each figure takes to walk across. Also, I’ll need to add seconds to each film to represent the time it takes for the figure to travel the ‘space’ between each phone (even though this ‘space’ doesn’t actually exist!) More complex than it seems perhaps?
Whereas for the last dance project, each video going in and out of sync worked in its favour, it may not be quite right for this project.
I’ll need to start doing more tests, and perhaps choreographing the movements so as to keep them in time. It would be really satisfying to watch a figure walk fluidly between devices, as if each device were merely a window the viewer is looking through.
On another note, there seems to be a narrative to this piece, although I have yet to pin it down to a title yet. The shoes all have some significance (as shoes surely do), as does the process of balancing on shoes I can’t actually walk very far in. Femininity, ability, moving forwards, trying not to fall…etc
So, the main trick to tight rope is…not falling off!
Resist the urge to fall!
Yeah. My first attempt wasn’t particularly bad, though I didn’t manage to make it all the way. I’m awaiting my next opportunity to practice by walking up and down a makeshift pole in my living room, and doing various core strengthening exercises.
This month I’ve had to temporarily move out of my studio, which has made it a bit difficult to make work so I’m mostly testing out miniature ways of projecting at home at the moment. I’m interested in using digital techniques to ‘perform’ pieces I’ve been testing out, such as this piece where I walk along a line of shoes…
A test run of a video of the same piece, played inside one of the shoes.
Whilst I’m going through the early stages of research (and also recovering from a cold!) I’ve started a Pinterest board of where my mind is going. Take a look if you like…
I’ve decided to start keeping a blog about my final year project process – I already do fairly regular updates on social media, but as part of this course, we’re asked to keep a blog or journal…so here it is.
I’ve begun traipsing further into performance-based, digital work- my penultimate project ‘#dancingontheinternet’ combined two major interests of mine: contemporary dance and the internet. Or more specifically, smartphones and social media. Over the course of the project, I learned two contemporary dance sequences, and ‘performed’ them on smartphones, using a video looping app. The movements went in and out of sync with one another- like on social media, the moving parts joined up whilst remaining separate and disconnected.
For this new project, I wanted to take these ideas further. For my process, I have begun learning how to tightrope walk. Ever since I first saw a woman walk in high heels on a thin wire at NoFit State Circus I have wanted to be able to walk a tightrope. In 2017, I managed to crowdfund enough money to do a tightrope challenge for the circus’s charity, but was unfortunately too unwell to be able to do it. I was heartbroken, and since missing out on this, I have thought of little else.
I’ve also thought a lot about balance, and the physical and mental implications of the word. Balancing my emotions, my diet, my relationships, my work and social life is an ongoing challenge, especially as I am often unwell, and so the meditative process of physically balancing I find particularly interesting.
In addition to this, I’ve been researching projecting, and starting to experiment with simplified ways of projecting: shoebox projector, Pepper’s Ghost, and other ways.
I’m hoping that these two processes can be merged somehow in a way, and this blog will be how I begin to do that.