Testing the Movement Factory with a small invited audience a few weeks ago made me think about how this project breaks the typical roles that the creator and the audience assume in a traditional theatre setting. The audience is not just participating in pre-planned activities during the event, but they make creative and spontaneous choices. They become collaborators.
The Movement Factory encourages the audience to take an active role. The audience’s attention is not solely on the dancers – who are busy creating the movement material in front of them – or on their mobile devices. The attention seems to be somewhere in the middle. It is in the creative act – the actual interaction between the performer and the technology.
This has challenged me think about what the ‘art’ is in this project. It certainly is not just to do with the end product – the final 15min of the event during which the dancers perform the piece that has been created. The beauty of Please Switch On Your Mobile Phones is deeply rooted in the process and in the audience’s felt experience of the entire event. I hope that the event invites the audience to view dance work with a new, more open set of criteria which reaches beyond the typical visual and audible environments. I believe that the experience of the Movement Factory veers towards an improvisational jam – it contains unknown elements, there are some rules that help you play along but you never know what the outcome will be. However, participating in it can give you a satisfying sense of excitement and leaves you feeling high.
As the Movement Factory aims to demolish the traditional power structure that underpins the way we view work in a theatre setting, it also throws in questions of ownership and who the choreographer / author /director is in this work. Whose work is this in the end and does it really matter?