Last weekend, I was fortunate to be part of the performance, Tethering Iteration 1. Laura Neese, 3rd year MFA student was showcasing her thesis process and I was one of her performers. From my understanding of her research is an investigation of durational change in movements, human relationships, and the environment with an anatomical perspective.
My process with her started back in early September. I met the other dancers, Tori, Teddy, and Madison through zoom for the first time. In the first session, she told her process and introduced breathing exercise, which I really loved. The exercise was to open the space in the lung to release muscle tension. It helped to breathe deeply by focusing on lobes (There are 5 lobes, 3 on the right side and 2 on the left side). We put the hand on the closest place of the lobe to feel expanding and shrinking. And just breathe a couple of minutes. Breathing is an essential part of human being, but we tend to forget how important is. Her process was, at least for me, centering my mind to the body and having a conversation with. Because I realized how much I overuse my body to live in this high-technology society.
After the first session, we met two days a week in person. Fridays at the studio and Sundays at the Chadwick Arboretum North. On Friday mornings, we started with solo improvisation to listen to the body. Then, she introduced couple of exercises, corporate nerve system and the body movements, the washing (improvisation game; one person keep walking as a washer and others can stop, dance, or walk with washer with their own choice.), non-associated words game, mirroring, walk or pause. All exercises were connected to research on how we move as individual but also as collectives. We improvised most of the time. In the end, we did free writing 2, 3 minutes to pin down our running thoughts and we shared. This morning ritual every Friday helped me to cope with the exhaustion of the week and translated into refreshing dance investigation. On Sundays, we started walking around the lake to ”notice” what you notice. It was a brief 15 minutes walk, but it was enough to sharpen and tune my senses to my surroundings. Every walk I encountered, saw, and heard different things such as color-changing on the leaves, people who came to fish at the lake, or the sound of cars running by the park. We created the base phrase out of our walks as collective and we used and manipulate it in the environment. Laura chose a space where on the right side of the Encore house with many trees. I have never done site-specific practice so these Sunday practices were interesting to me. Because our improvisations were never the same, it kept growing and changing. Even though we were familiar with the phrases, exercises, or the surroundings, we made choices and moved differently. What most strikes me over the practices was Laura allowed us to change, influence, and be affected instead of clinging to recreate the beauty of making.
While we practicing, we as 4 dancers were paying attention to our distance due to the COVID-19. So the question was “how can we dance together or connect each other while we distanced?” This question is common among dance artists under this pandemic. However, Laura Neese solved it beautifully. As I danced more with dancers, we built trust and recognize each others’ character deeply. Gradually we understand our own movement patterns and inspiration source built the network to communicate without contacting physically. One time Laura told us that “we are building an invisible chain connection to communicate like a root of the tree or human DNA.” We all were already open-minded and ready to dive into her process, although how we built an invisible bond over the time of practicing improvisations together were stronger and more intimate than we started.
It was satisfying but also very sad to admit that the journey with Laura and 3 dancers was concluded, though what I experienced through the process was a gift to me. I appreciated being able to participate in her process as well as the performance opportunity.
If anybody would like to know more about Laura’s research project, please click the button below.