The SEED residency was a blessing of space and time to create. My artistic partner Jakob and I spent as much time as we could at CounterPulse, long hours in the space, not just for creation and play, but to live and be in the space, to be part of the environment that is CounterPulse and the Tenderloin and allow it to inform and interweave into our process. It was an exercise in persistence, focus, and play, stretching me and Jakob to new limits of imagination and artistic dialogue.
This was our first real opportunity for an artistic collaboration and relationship through improvisation. During the first few days, we hit hard blocks in our creative communication, producing frustration and dissatisfaction with our work– experiencing the growing pains of learning to create together as we uncovered our language and the nature of our artistic dialogue. As we transitioned into the main theater we quickly found our groove and ideas came effortlessly.
We explored freeform, structured, timed and thematic modes of improvisation as well as various ways to lead, support and dissolve into ambiance. What is it like for a dancer to support a musician, rather than the usual musician in the corner playing for a dancer? What is it like to allow sound to take up the whole space while both of our physical presences are removed from the theatre? Can a musician be a mover? A mover a soundmaker? Can we as artists expand beyond our traditional roles and create a symbiotic relationship with one another in the work?
For our performance, we made a list of the improvisational games, themes, and structures we developed over our series of rehearsals and shaped them into a holistic piece. The theater provided plenty of inspiration with full access to the vast possibilities and opportunities of the space. We had more ideas – various sequences, timings, color motifs and use of light, sound worlds, visual landscapes etc. – than we could arrange before the 10 days were up.
The piece continuously morphed, transformed, evolved and went through many iterations .
The final piece took shape as a montage like dreamscape that lead the viewer through multivalent, abstract worlds. We titled the piece “Sunday’s Mystery”, one of many improvised titles that changed day to day. We interwove various mediums and improvisational languages into something bizarre, beautiful, strange and, at times, hilarious.
This residency allowed us to discover new modes of artistic communication and understanding through interweaving the improvisational and notational languages of various mediums.
This short residency was a gift. It ignited our imagination to new possibilities and served as an incubation period– a glimpse into the work we hope to create in the future. What could we do with more than two artists in improvisational communication – a creative dialogue with dancers, musicians, a lighting designer, poets, theatrics and more? What could we do with months of rehearsal and play rather than just 10 days? What would come into fruition then? What modes of communication would we develop together? The spark has been lit and we are driven to realize this project together.
If we, as a species and people, are going to make it and continue to exist together, we will need to discover new ways of communicating, listening and responding to one another and to the evolutionary pressures of our environment. Our current mode of existing together is abhorrently wasteful, destructive, imbalanced and tragic. It is truly vital for us to develop novel relationships that aim towards a greater vision of community, interconnectedness, and harmony with the planet and one another. This is the guiding force behind the work I strive to create.