Persistent Resistance Stubbornness of Dancers: Digital Bridges to Dance

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We are mediatized, and live in a mediatized world, like it or not.

For dance, as an embodied, in-body, art form there may be a persistent resistance to the disembodied spaces of the digital world. I often find myself there.

Is the persistent resistance the stubbornness of dancers to want to be in the same room together? Real bodies in real space and time.

Is it also linked to wanting to uncover digital tools for meaningful, rather than technologically dazzling, interaction and creation?

To find the “why it matters?” so that digital and online spaces become compelling reasons to engage with technology. Discovering particular methods for digital exchange that become unique, irreplaceable components of a creative and/or pedagogic practice.

I live in a place of geographic isolation from other dance-making practitioner colleagues. Online digital spaces offer up the opportunity to stay connected.

Many artists experiment with the interactions of live and digital, but I was most moved by Julie Rothschild’s simple MAPS Anew proposal. This private Facebook page invited choreographers, spread across international geographic distance, to post solo material in this private location. Over the course of a year, a community of artists developed who all agreed that there was something unique to how we were creating and growing through this format. It was different than being in a studio together. Our focus was not to collaborate on a work, but rather have a shared space to investigate solo workings as they evolved. To witness and be witnessed. Over the course of a year, each artist recognized some substantial changes in the way they were thinking about and making physical movement material. This is an asynchronous exchange, members post and comment on their own time.

MAPS Anew led to another online exchange, organized and facilitated by Michael Richter. This exchange spans North America – Canada, United States and Mexico. The 12 person group meets monthly through a video conferencing service.  The group agreed on six books that they would read over the course of the 9-month period. Rotating facilitation, once a month one member of the group devised improvisational and compositional activities to explore the reading. This is a synchronous exchange.

In both of the above examples, the link between participants was the organizer. The participants often knew each other only through the online exchanges.

I find myself applying what I have known as a dedicated dance & community animator into the online spaces. I want to explore who is it for? Why are we doing it? How do we grow? What does it mean to nourish each other’s creative practices? In a non-capitalistic structure, perhaps, we are not doing these exchanges in order to create a something, but rather to grow and be challenged in both our personal and community lives, and that will affect the work that we make.

These encounters take us from the known initial pathway – how dance improvisation and creative collaboration function when we are body-to-body in the same space together -into the unknown of potentially disembodied exchange that looks for the meaningful, matter-making embodying the disembodied.