For Friday’s session on dance theatre we spent four hours in the world of Alys North – and I discovered that out of my comfort zone wasn’t such a bad place to be.
After a name game icebreaker (‘Yes Torpedo’, played the previous day with Karen) we began to warm up physically and psychologically by rubbing our limbs – and then each other’s – then running around in ever-diminishing space, getting accustomed to moving, reacting and being in contact with each other. A game called ‘pass the touch’, in which ‘the touch’ was a movement that transformed with each person, added an element of improvisation into this. Communicating without words to invent a game with a partner – then joining others’ games, and enjoying them morph, meander and flow into something different, was energetic and fun, with a definite sense of play being the stimulus for creativity. Another partnered exercise, in which one person leads their blindfolded partner around the space solely by singing to them, was an unexpectedly powerful experience – forgot to ask Mahum what it was she was singing, but it stuck in my head like a half-remembered dream.
For the second half of the workshop, Brian arrived – or rather, was constructed. A simple geodesic dome structure, festooned with lights and cushions and random items of clothing, Brian is a place without rules – “if you think there are rules, feel free to break them,” we’re told as we prepare to enter. The lights are dimmed, Brian begins to resonate with a wash of sounds and with a heightened sense of anticipation, in we go.
The half hour – or was it an hour? – that follows is also like a half-remembered dream. At first, the unspoken consensus seems to be lie down in the centre, but before long hats, scarves, shirts and bloomers are being put on, taken off, passed around, stuffed with cushions… there is smiling and laughter. The random list of wants we had written down earlier is read aloud and each one becomes a suggestion, an idea to explore – pet dragons, swimming with dolphins, human sacrifice! All the concepts we had built on in the first session – being open, playful, responsive, accepting, willing to be vulnerable, to explore – were applied to create an immersive, interactive group experience that was uplifting precisely because of its total lack of prescribed form.
Did I enjoy it? Without doubt, my inner cynic found it challenging at times to be so completely guileless – but ‘giving myself over’ to the process was incredibly liberating. That openness, that willingness to play, to go on a journey and take others with you, can be such a spark for creativity but also a kind of pure, simple joy. Which is worth feeling silly for…