Choreographed from a porcelain costume designed and created by Dawn Summerlin, Porcelain Moves explores the challenges and risks taken in live performance when moving and creating with fragile material.
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First fitting in Porcelain, photograph: Dawn Summerlin, October 2014
This costume, its designer and myself have been in process over the past ten months with the unpredictability of this 'sometimes fragile - sometimes resilient' material. As I prepare for a live performance I attempt to gauge degrees of fragility, both in the porcelain and of my flesh. Each fitting, each danced exploration has brought new fractures to the costume, new markings to my skin. The costume is taped, my skin heals and choreographic pathways are re-traced through the mutually formed archaeologies of our bodies: my dancing body and the bodice of this costume.
Events rarely unfold as predicted. Each day I take away a little bag of breakages, a collection of jagged fragments, evidence of those instances where dancing body and porcelain corset clashed. I feel both embellished and encumbered by this porcelain costume. It is as if I am wearing my bones on the outside. But these are borrowed bones, and within the risk of playing with fragility, I believe myself to be safe.
Attention is on the edges, the edges of the costume, the edges of me. The costume draws warmth from my pulsations, as if drawing a life from my body, from where its original moulding came. And then there is the noise - persistent, inescapable, creating narratives that would seem more appropriate to a domestic scene of jostled crockery in the kitchen sink. I try to move with delicacy and the costume clunks. I play with its rasping overlaps, indulging in the imbrication of aural sensations, that inevitably cause tension.
Performance date of Perceptive Fragility: 18.04.15, Rose Theatre, The Arts Centre, Edge Hill University
Porcelain Moves (2016) paper to be delivered atCostume and Fashion in Context and Practice,hosted by the University of Huddersfield 05.12.16