Kimberley introduced her work ‘Inky Matter’ as a performance installation using text, ink and the process of letter writing as inspiration. Throughout the workshop we explored tactile and sensory approaches to movement with freedom of interpretation and adaptation at the core of the investigation.

The workshop opened with an improvisation which evolved from internal to external awareness – connecting to internal sense of self and articulation of the body by imagining a drop of ink traveling around the body or inside the body gave great attention to the way we initiate movement from an internal place. Awareness of the space and surfaces of the environment around us challenged our placement of weight. Considering the way our body imprinted on the environment or how it might leave a mark led us to consider how our movement created invisible sculptures as it moved, as well as promoting a sense of openness as we imagined leaving full body imprints around us as we moved.

Our primary exploration came from working sculpturally with bodies and paper, playing lead and follow, pass the parcel, getting tied up and unravelling again as we passed a large length of paper around our groups. The paper acted as a vehicle for weaving, ducking, throwing, winding, twisting, moulding, wrapping around each other as the groups invented creative ways to move together. Connecting us together and at once separating us – anarchy descended as group members split away, playing games and transforming the dance space into a paper playground.

I was struck in this weeks exploration by the natural and childlike playfulness that the group experienced when making. The simple intermediary of a prop with a very specific artistic and sculptural approach, opened up a wide playground of possibility for the dancers, much like playing with the chairs in Bim Malcomson’s workshop on week 2. This felt like the most free the dancers have been, despite the prop itself meaning that there was more to think about in the execution of movement. We saw jumping, crawling, diving, running away, snatching and rolling as the dancers played and laughed, a lot! I was reminded of the notion of the exuberant animal, introduced to me by collaborative partner Ben Beare of National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery:

exuberance and its close partners passion and joy are consistently underrated in mainstream studies of physical fitness, health and performance…

We now know more about lactic acid concentrations than we do about joy…more about body mass index than we do about passion…more about  treadmill performance than we do about enthusiasm…then we wonder why people find exercise so dull and unattractive

Frank Forencich

Frank Forencich suggests that exuberance comes from play and that as adults we need to tap into childlike exuberance in order to find a healthy and happy existence. Yet play and free, abandon in movement are underrated and often unattainable in older adulthood. Not only did Kimberley’s workshop encourage a truly free and flowing exuberance to unfold, there was also a childlike quality to our free mark making as we were encouraged to respond to what we were seeing by making inky marks on paper in front of us. When in adulthood do we get this chance to make our mark freely and without judgement on paper?

The session summed up beautifully in this quote from a company dancer:

Can I just say how moving (literally and emotionally) Wednesday’s session was. The exercise with paper seemed to allow us to combine together as a group and yet allow us to be individual at the same time. What a metaphor for society as a whole. 

Dancer, CID Project