brought along squares of fake grass in order to get ‘in touch’ with something outside of ourselves, something to form a relation to. Martin and I also chose these objects to give us some aesthetic choices in terms of filming. The grass mats could be used in various configurations that gave us a number of possible spatial choreographies. As the choreographer on the project, the most important things I value in a process, are Trust, Respect and Time and the ‘dance moves’ are secondary to that. In order to draw out the best in a performer, I feel I need to deeply consider how I am constructing time and space for someone to feel free to be creative – that they have the right to be exactly who they are. There were times for spatial and physical challenges, such as learning and remembering new dance sequences or floor patterns. At Suzan’s request, every session we did solo improvised dancing, with everyone else watching. The watching is important. For any process, I ask people to watch each other in order to learn from each other and to realize they are in this together, as an ensemble. As a choreographer, I want to watch each person over and over and notice the dance that is already inherent in each individual’s body and spirit. Such as Allen’s complex, unpredictable, improvised movement sequences which draw from hip hop and street culture dance. Or Suzan’s sense of flow and extension through her whole body and tendency to strong diagonal lines in space. Or Joanne’s fast and syncopated footwork. Or Farangis’ ‘Middle Eastern’ undulating flow through her arms and hands. Or how all of them sat so beautifully poised in crossed legged position. Using a broad range of music, I noticed how the music affected how each person moved and also the mood in the room. For example, the juxtaposition when, one time, Karoleen danced fast disco moves to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
(Left to right) Ragda Rima, Suzan Doumit, Farangis Nawroozi, Joanne Pang, Karolen Shlaimon in grass skirts. Photograph by Linda Luke.
I’m interested in dissolving borders in a process, segueing between warm ups, structured scores and technical details, improvisation, playing, eating, watching film
Artists speak about their experiences and claiming spaces as artists with disability.