L i g h t o u c h : a practice-based research project and performance created as part of Michelle's MA Making Performance (Distinction)
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Further research outcomes:
Into Darkness …towards l i g h t o u c h: The Challenges of Creating and Performing in the Dark conference paper delivered atPerforming Process: Sharing Practice Symposium, Coventry University, June 2014 and at the Theatre in the Dark Symposium, University of Surrey, July 2014
Abstract: This paper has been written in response to l i g h t o u c h (choreography: M. Man), a contemporary dance duet crafted through a phenomenological response to light. It specifically explores the affect of very low lighting states on performer and audience. It is written from both a dancer’s and choreographer’s perspective, and reveals some of the challenges and pleasures of creating and sharing choreographic processes in darkened spaces. The paper discusses how this practice-led research project aimed to unpick the experiences of moving and devising in the pseudo-darkness of a blackened studio space. It then explores the shift from those ‘practised’ experiences of imagined darkness, to the physically danced negotiation of moving in minimal intensity lighting states against a canvas of complete darkness achieved through the installation of a Deadman’s Switch in a Black Box Studio Theatre.
By proposing a synaesthetically framed question: When sight stutters, how might the traces of movement be perceived? the paper problematizes what constitutes our connectivity with choreographies that dissolve into shadow, suggesting that accentuated darkness offers a fertile field of play, where the blurring of the boundaries between the real and the imagined, the visible and the invisible, may lend to an altered sensory response to the dance for both the performer and the spectator. By drawing on audience feedback from the first performance of l i g h t o u c h (September 2013) the paper underlines the indeterminate nature of our experiences within a staged phenomenology of darkness. Furthermore, it explores the possible philosophies that underlie choreographic decisions where “[m]ovement itself does not disappear, but the body that performs it does” (Gilpin, 2011:118), where, as Martin Welton suggests: “[s]eeing and being in the dark is to experience not so much absence as an imminent possibility”(2013:13).