Witness

McLeod, Shaun 2016, Witness, in Witness, Dancehouse, 13-27 Aug. 2016.

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Performance name Witness
Creator(s) McLeod, ShaunORCID iD for McLeod, Shaun orcid.org/0000-0003-1917-5436
Contributor(s) Millard, O
Fraser, P
Marchant, J
Year presented/published 2016
Publisher Dancehouse
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Event name Witness
Performance venue Dancehouse
Performance dates 13-27 Aug. 2016
Description of performance An improvised performance for 4 dancers and participating audience.
Summary Witness is a performance for a group of dancers and a participating audience. The dancers have been practising over several years the Dance Movement Therapy method commonly known as Authentic Movement (also known as the Mover/Witness Dyad – the term used for this event). The practice involves a specific relationship and commitment between a mover and a witness. With eyes closed, the mover moves according to their own immediate interests and free associations in movement. The witness enables this process by ‘holding the space’: keeping the mover safe and watching with a supportive, non-judgmental attitude. Just as the mover is enabled by the presence of the witness, the witness is also prompted to reflect on his/her own embodied experience during the process. An intimate exchange occurs between mover and witness, with affective and ethical implications, and aspects of which are articulated in a discussion that follows the moving. In Witness, this open situation has been framed as an experimental performance. The ethos of the Mover/Witness Dyad (MWD) has been speculatively transferred into a questioning encounter between dancers and live audience. In Witness, the dancers do not attempt to ‘compose’ their movement but keep their raw, immediate involvement at a level before conscious awareness can organise it: that is, at a pre-choreographic level. The dancers move freely, often with eyes closed, and indifferent to the expectations of the audience. On their own, the dancers’ activities are not intended as the complete ‘work’ for audience reception. The dancers act as unwitting provocateurs whose mutable presence prompts the dynamics and qualities of audience engagement. The audience attending Witness have also been re-signified as ‘witnesses’ who agree to consciously participate in the completion of the performance by watching openly and suspending judgment, changing positions in the space, and actively intervening to keep the dancers safe. Once the dancers finish moving, the dancers and witnesses share and discuss their own experiences, and so reflexively draw out the qualities, affections or complications of the event. These two elements – movement score and group discussion – together constitute the performance. The witnesses also receive a series of watching scores, modelled on a pack of playing cards (52 cards, divided into 4 ‘suites’). Each card offers a statement or suggestion directed toward the participation of the witness but from different frames of reference (physical, personal, artistic, philosophical). The witnesses must commit to their involvement by agreeing to attend all three nights (which together constitute a single performance event). This commitment to attending three nights echoes the witness’s commitment to the mover in the MWD. When the dancers are moving with their eyes closed, please stop them if they are about to walk into walls of other people. You can do this by placing your hand on their shoulder. Accidents rarely happen and moving with eyes closed is not dangerous for the dancers. No seating is provided, but witness/audience members are free to sit or lie on the floor, as well as walk around the room and watch from different perspectives. Each night began with the 38-minute movement score and was followed by a brief discussion. Beginning in uncertainty, experiences over the three nights accrued. As the participants (dancers and witnesses) clarified their interests and affections, they also become responsive to their own impact on others, sensing how their activities (whether playful or considered) might be experienced in a changeable field of relationships. Witness prompts a range of questions: about what constitutes performance, about what the roles of the dancer and audience might entail, and about how a community of common interest and experience might develop through a responsive, attentive exchange between its participants.
Keyword(s) Dance
Improvisation
Participatory Performance
Witnessing
Language eng
Field of Research 190403 Dance
Socio Economic Objective 950105 The Performing Arts (incl. Theatre and Dance)
HERDC Research category J1 Major original creative work
Copyright notice ©2016, Dancehouse
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30088072

Document type: Performance
Collection: School of Communication and Creative Arts
 
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Created: Wed, 09 Nov 2016, 08:38:56 EST

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