Axis Syllabus Research (2015)

Cactus Fascia

Supported by the Rebecca Skelton Fund I undertook a research project training with the Axis Syllabus community in Puglia, Italy.  Tuning into different time paces, tracing our interstitial webs, spiralling, torques, falling, rising, flying, and reflecting on the environment that housed all of this. What follows is a report of the research.

This project was about expanding my choreographic/performing skills by immersing myself into the training of Axis Syllabus in a residential programme. Axis Syllabus is a resource for generating cognitive and sensorial awareness of functional alignment, supporting movement efficiency and injury prevention. My aim was to experientially learn the healthy extent of the range of movement a human can have, backed up by a broad research of expertise, including dance, neurology, osteopathy, social sciences…

As my work often uses improvisation and inner-focused methods that respond to outer stimuli, this system of training interested me with its rigour and precision in defining possibilities. But it also accepts more ‘residual’ movements in the subtle curves that the body naturally creates.  This can allow for deeper appreciation of space and time to play with the unknown live moments of improvisation.

Through the project I set myself daily tasks to research technical, social, environmental themes through conversation and studio work with dancers. I developed ideas, documenting through writing/video. I wrote a performance score that integrated reflections on the local area Puglia (meaning ‘without water’), poetic reflections on the connection between our movement and the language used to imagine it, and local sound recordings. This was performed by AS teacher Baris Mihci and myself.

I discovered an inspiring relationship between anatomy and musicality, an attitude toward navigating rises and falls within complex fascia pathways. This disrupted my perception, giving possibilities for unknown qualities/states to emerge.

I discovered a joy in observing a movement dynamic of both individual and unified group expression; dancing together the same dance, our own way. I learnt about how outdated language uses have cultural connotations that restrict our movement.

I found the approaches of AS pedagogy, for example that all students and teachers together are fellow researchers, supported my individual journey of learning how to manage my scoliosis. This unlocked a freedom in both mind and body, supported by spiral thinking, distribution of weight and uses of particular axes.

I will be integrating the experience into how to train and devise new movement material with myself and others, including the concept design and ways to collaborate. I am also developing a programme of classes taught by AS teacher Zoë Solomons. We plan to provide regular classes for dancers in London.

In a recent work Oorgavé Oorgavé, a piece blending interactive sound design, instant composition dance, and poetry, it supported my devising/performing skills, and gave me a clearer language to communicate ideas with artists from different fields. Collaborating with a poet and sound designer, we developed a composition using both poetic and visceral scores.

I was able to develop and refine the different movement qualities which also responded dynamically to a digital sensor reading our movement in space. It created an interactive piece that brought alive technology and imagination, evoking a sense of spirit and responding to the unknown.

September 2015