Coil/Recoil: listening inside

The last two days have marked the beginning of our first research period for Between Coil and Recoil. After plenty of planning we finally got to the studio at Chapter, Cardiff to set up equipment and start playing. This is an intense 6 days, during which John and I are joined by sound artist Nick Davies for a week and a dancer/choreographer Johanna Nuutinen from Finnish National Ballet for two days. The focus of the residency is to explore the connection between the sound and movement, but in the way that it can take us on a journey inside the performer or a structure as well as take us back to outside on top of a surface, flicking between internal and external states.

Working with Nick has made me ‘hear’ the movement in a new way and the experimentation with sound has begun to direct the process of creating movements. I don’t think I have ever been as aware of the sound of moving before. We have started to map out choreographic possibilities for the system that we have set up in the studio.

We have played with a stereo condenser mic to heighten our awareness of our everyday sounds, contact mics to pick up and magnify even the minute details of the dancer’s movements against the floor and lavalier radio mics to capture the sound of the dancer’s breath. At the moment we all are working with headphones on, listening as the movement creates the soundscape around, which is then manipulated by Nick and further enhanced by John who is creating layers of interaction between the sound and visual environments. We all are part of this immersed sound world that we create together.

There is something special about watching dance with headphones on – it opens up new choreographic possibilities that are not possible in other ways. Like hearing the dancer’s breath close to you whilst they quietly dance far away from you. We begin to read the movement in different ways. It is like opening up a door to a hidden world that exists but we are not aware of. Fascinating! This is a similar feeling than when I first started learning and practising cranio-sacral therapy and discovered how much you can read from the body by gently placing your hands on it and listening. All along the movements inside the body have existed, but I wasn’t aware of them – I didn’t have access to them. These experiments are re-emphasising the sounds that we have learned to ignore.

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