Rosemary Butcher is one of the greatest choreographer in UK, and I would always go and see her works.
I was fortunate to have her as my choreography teacher when I was studying at Laban, then I did her workshop at Independent Dance in winter 2008. First two weeks in January, she led professional morning classes at ID. This is quite unusual because she normally does not 'teach' a dance technique class like other teacher would do. She 'leads' a class where each participant explores their own identity in movement. Her class is very much based on her idea of dance, which is further beyond what most people would think. But it is like searching for the golden rule for human, not only dance. The truth is applicable to many other things and communicative to many other people.
The classes were very satisfying experience for me to explore movement, the body and the mind in the improvisation (if I may call it) clearly led by Rosemary's vision. It was challenging as usual to understand or interpret her abstract directions and suggestions. I like the state of mind I reach through the process, somewhere very deep, honest and simple.
How Rosemary leads and where I reach seem to be quite mystery to me and I would love to know more about it.
After the experience, I try to break down the journey in the classes so that the idea may be crystallised.
1) Starting point
We start from any comfortable positions, often lying on the floor. Rosemary gives some simple focuses on the body eg.) shoulder joints and hip joints, all the surface on the body, which part on the floor and which not, vertical line and horizontal line etc.
I would just do whatever the body wants to do following the instruction. The movement gradually gets more dynamic, and I start to see some kind of pattern of movement or the idea behind of some movement.
2) Defining vocabulary
Then I can consciously be aware of my vocabulary in this session. I will keep this in my mind and will come back to the vocabulary when I feel lost. On the other hand, the door is half open for anything new to come in. The vocabulary map keeps slightly changing according to the new comers.
3) Change of energy
This is the most challenging part. Rosemary suggests to change the focuses of what we are experimenting in very abstract way. The interpretation of her words is up to the individual, and I always a bit of struggle in myself asking 'is this what she is asking for?'. I can do only what I have understood. It is quite easy to give up here and stop moving. But the most important things would be not to loose trust in myself. After the struggle, the cloud gets clearer in myself and start seeing different games and qualities emerging. If lucky, I can have some imagination and some kind of narratives, which would probably make very strong performance if you see from the audience point of view.
4) Letting outside come in
Up till here, the journey is pretty much personal. There are no connection to other people around. After working personally for a while, there is a point where I can keep the personal connection inside me without caring too much and can open my eyes to people and space around me. This gives me other possibilities of movement that does not belong to my vocabulary map, and it will trigger the map to be broaden whether the movement stays in the map or not. I have a danger to loose my own internal journey and go with the new stimuli from outside so I will remember to anchor myself down.
5) Abandon the memory, and start again
This is optional. Rosemary once told us to stop and leave the memory of the journey behind. Start from the blank campus. But can it be completely blank? What is remained?
At the end, just remembering and digesting the experience. We can do whatever- move, write, watch... I try to retrace the journey.