Home > dance, Events, Improvisation, installation, Listening, Presentations, walking > Soundwalking Interactions at Dance Dramaturgy (York University 2011)

Soundwalking Interactions at Dance Dramaturgy (York University 2011)

(La version française de ce texte se trouve ici)

“Soundwalking Interactions.” Presentation, installation and dance performance with sound artist Andra McCartney, interactive artist Don Sinclair, choreographer Susan Lee, dancers Tracey Norman, Bee Pallomina, Shannon Roberts, and Jesse Dell. Dance Dramaturgy: Catalyst, Perspective and Memory, York University, June 23, 2011.

All members of the group began by going on a soundwalk together in a Toronto park. Andra McCartney began by leading, but then held back in order to feel which direction the group tended at different moments. She then encouraged others to take over leadership. This shift in leadership and direction created different feelings of flocking that were later referenced in the improvisatory structure of the dance. The group halted part way through the walk to exchange listening ideas, then continued. The next day, the recorded soundwalk was posted online for download. The group gathered and listened to the whole soundwalk, pausing after every ten minutes to discuss what was heard. On the basis of this discussion, sound excerpts were edited for the dancers to use in the installation. After the first rehearsal, the choreographer asked for more sounds to be generated, based on the desires of the dancers and the needs of the choreography. Lee designed a choreographic structure that gave room for improvisation in gesture and movement within scored moments of 45 seconds to 1 minute in length, creating a piece in five gestural sections that lasted around 16 minutes. Movements were linked with the experience of the soundwalk and the attributes of the sounds. In the space of the installation, dancers walked behind each other, sometimes embracing each other, leading and following, circling and pausing, sometimes listening with eyes closed, articulating the space and the sounds through staccato gestures and changes in tempo, moving closer to each other and farther apart; all of these motions translated into swirling colours and shapes on the projection. The installation relies on a bodily exploration of acoustic possibilities within a circumscribed space. The exercise also reveals relationships between bodily movements and a sense of place. For instance, stillness could result in silence, as well as the absence of visual traces on the screen, or alternatively it could result in loud sound that would be attenuated by movement. Each case provided different kinds of possibilities for bodily articulation of the space in sound. Movements inside a given place reveal its shape and boundaries. Participants explore the space, activating each sound voluntarily or by accident, returning to the most appealing, disturbing or evocative sounds and mixing them. Movements become progressively more confident, musical, gestural. Thus the choreography develops into defined phrases and trajectories through the audible memories of the walk, the circumscribed space of the installation and its various sonic configurations.

The text in this posting is developed out of a former analysis of this piece in the CJC.

Paquette, David and Andra McCartney. “Soundwalking and the bodily exploration of places.” Canadian Journal of Communication, 37 (1), 2012: 135-145.

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