Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Instants with Angela Stoecklin

cultural exchange project: improvisation and Instant Composition music/dance with artists from different cultural backgrounds 

Arts are means of communication. Dance and music as non-verbal communication forms bear potential for inter-cultural exchange. Through the playful way of improvisation we use our individual experience to enrich and be enriched in unique moments of sharing art.

In my research series „instants“ dancers and musicians from different cultural backgrounds are brought together to mutually experience moments of instant creation. My interest lies in exploring and getting to know other approaches to dance, music and improvisation, and trying to find connections within. How is non-verbal communication different in various cultures, where is it close, where do we understand / misunderstand each other. How can we bring our individualities together to create pieces instantaneously. 

Improvisation is probably the most original and primary form of art. It combines technical skill with playfulness, asks for letting go of what is familiar and known to joyfully open up to the impulses of the moment. Exploration of communication between music and dance within related thematics through improvisation is the working process which culminates in a performance of Instant Composition.

I am curious to find out how the individual cultural background stains communication between the arts. 
Eventually, when having done this exploration in several countries, I will want to compare and try to find 
a consensus for the approach to Instant Composition that can work throughout the different cultures.

Instant 3, India 2012
I had the possibility through the Kha Foundation in Bangalore and Murielle Ikareth and her Saaram Center in Kottayam to conduct my exploration on Instant Composition music / dance with both contemporary and traditional local artists from Nov 28th till Dec 14th 2012 in India. In each place I could work with the artists five times. In Bangalore we concluded the research time in a studio showing, the one in Kottayam in a performance in the outside space of OED Gallery in Cotchi at its opening night during the Biennale for contemporary arts. In Bangalore I also taught a workshop on „time and musicality in dance improvisation“ for dancers and dance students.

Indians impressed me with their open heartedness, and as a communicative and very friendly people. In the midst of their hustle there seems to be no time pressure, no mounting impatience or anger. I perceived them as quite direct in reacting, sometimes almost childlike, always ready for a good laugh, and with the talent to see the pleasant side of any situation, which I eagerly tried to take up in my own In both groups my approach to improvisation was new to the artists. The contemporary trained artists in Bangalore, a percussionist playing on instruments he himself makes from waste material and a flute and dijeridoo player, and six semi – to professional dancers very eagerly entered into the reflecting of the process, and seemed to be able to connect to my inputs easily. It’s a group of people who put a lot of effort in building a contemporary art scene , in finding and making space for their interests.
In Kottayam I worked with traditional classical artists, a singer, a female tabla-player, and a semi professional guitar and dijeridoo player with improvisation background, a Kathakali and a semi-classical dancer, and my French host who had studied traditional Indian and some contemporary dance. Here the challenge was to find a common ground when both language and approach were very different. The traditional forms are very strictly coded and structured, playing in cycles within which a certain amount of modulation is possible. The artists’ curiosity and openness towards working of tools and finding new ways of interaction by looking at seperate aspects of it was very touching, and performing together was a joyful 
experience with both groups.

What I found parallelled in their spoken and their artistic language is an ongoing rolling flow of outlet, there seems to be hardly any stops or breaks, and it was not easy for them to try to integrate and then keep these. So as common experience with both groups the track of making and giving space, also to individual voices, became prior, and I didn’t introduce all the topics I had planned with an equally strong I will call this research „atelier“ from now on. It might make it clearer that it’s not a workshop but a field for mutual exploration. It helped already to formulate my approach in the beginnig more clearly, as taking apart of exploration and working on tools, and the making use of it in making pieces.

Then I tried to get a feeling for the pulse of South India. The hustle of congested Bangalore and the tropical business of Cotchi, being calmed by the quiet of the resort Saaram and an afternoon on the backwaters. The many sensory impressions, the neverending sounds of horning, chanting and bell- and cymbal-sounding of some nearby temple, the air filled with fumes, incense, curry-smells and foulness of standing water, the coulourfulness of the many people on the streets, the wonderfully bright Saris, the blue, pink and gold of the temples, the ritual-flowers and the surprising amount of green in both places. I was housed with one of the dancers in Bangalore which allowed me to be very close to her everyday life. Saaram Center in Kottayam was a restful place to concentrate on the work, and Cotchi then again let me plunge into India’s full liveliness.

I was met by very open and hearty people and felt welcomed by them immediately.

 Angela Stoecklin, December 2012

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