Choreography, Somatic Practice and research
The work of choreographer Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir
Confronting Hyper reality
“Physically, choreographically and dramaturgically I compose performances as highly intensive experiences. The experiences are meant to vibrate energetically at the core of omnipresent pathological states of embodied being, induced by current and ancient conditioning and transference. These embodied pathologies exist in the shadows of what is considered normal life and in conceptual shadows. The work is a gesture to step into this space where it is necessary to stay until a shift happens. The commonality of these pathologies is revealed by being together in these states of incapacity to act, respond, move, feel or escape. Even though this is not a comfortable or comforting space to be in, a soft power of resistance is produced. It is this power that is choreographed, not the movements of bodies but the resonance of the internal movements and energies of the dancers in live performance. The dancers resonate with selected pathologies that they carry within their bodies, through them we resonate together in a meditative state of reciprocity. The intensity and information ripples outwards. The audience may be confronted by pathology, but this is done to initiate release and transformation and further cognitive processes on the topic, not to re traumatize. This is a different sort of documentary with a different sense of fiction: it is documentation because the dancers bodies have spent many years doing the practice; it is fiction not that it is not real, but that it is hyper-real. The way the dancers vibrate differently is an invitation to a different body state that is a state of affective potential. The dancers bodies offer the potential to attune and align the audience bodies and thoughts.
This happens both in live performance and this archival versions of the work, revealing different performative materialization of hyper-reality. This archival project called Somatic Archiving is an interdisciplinary scientific collaboration that uses augmented reality technologies to generate further opportunities for the vibrations of the dancers to radiate into the world. The archive functions in such a way that a somatic body state is viewed through a digital device which kick-starts that state in the viewers’ bodies. This archive re-choreographs the mobile device into something that enhances human experience rather than using it primarily for commercial purposes. It helps to expand our digital realities and lets the somatic states of the dancers travel into the wider world. The practice, the performances, and the vision in combination evaporate the context of the theatre. The archival work ripples even further to expand what dance can be”.
Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir in a dialog with Prof. Susan Kozel the author of the Somatic Archiving project.
FULL DROP into the Body is a practice where de-conditioning meets artistic research, and the choreographic vision
The meditative deep tissue release FULL DROP into the Body practice was developed from 2010-2022 whilst creating a body of artistic works that focuses on exploring pathologies of the social-political body within our own bodies and their expression. It brings together the physiological and psychological states of the body, exploring unconscious and energetic realities of embodied life. The research into this type of embodiment initiated a process of mapping out a new category of performative body language, and ways of developing and sharing it within the wider international dance scene and academia. While working with and sharing a practice of de-conditioning is a conscious political gesture. The performance works engage in the ongoing discussion of healing, feminism, interconnectedness, notions of energetic citizenship, and the pathology of the social-political body within the choreographic context and beyond it. Displaying the politics of intimacy has been a core theme within the work and the aim is to create an environment where both, performer and onlooker, are able to question their inner and outer realities through it.
The performances function as safer spaces for collective exploration of the maze of connections and dead ends that constitute the interface of the pathological body with our achievement-oriented society. The practice allows the performer and viewer access to states that are usually extremely private or unconscious, thereby opening up the way for a profound experience that is disarmingly radical in its manifestation and politics. The dancers surrender to and are moved by inner forces, both political and energetic in nature, both ancient and current, and of a magnitude and power far greater than all of us. This process generates a corporeal language that serves as a doorway into the unconscious. Marked by an infinite presence and energetic transference that reveals and provokes in the same moment as it breaches the divide between performer and audience, together surrendering to an alternative Hyper reality while exploring and confronting the inner and outer landscape of embodied life.
The dancers who have been a part of this artistic journey for longer or shorter periods of time are: Johanna Chemnitz, Louise Dahl, Annie Kay Dahlström, Catherine Jodoin, Angela Schubot, Laura Siegmund, Suet-Wan Tsang, Marie Ursin, Rodrigo Vilarinho, Marie Topp, Alexandra Tweit. The electronic music composer Peter Rehberg (PITA) created the soundtracks of the performance works made from 2010-2018.
The introspective body researched and worked with during the period 2010-2017
The Alienated and Isolated Body (2010-2013)
The physicality explored when the practice expanded from the solitary research of the choreographer to more practitioners and towards creative outcomes in 2013, was based on a deep tissue release (the connective tissue in particular), through visualization meditation which emphasizes full body release and connecting through that to the gravity pull in order to be able to quiet the mind and body of its habitual activity enough to enable an awareness of various autonomously functioning systems and activity within the body. Once the capacity to enter into a radically passive state of inner listening is developed the rhythm of the cerebral spine fluid, the sensorial biomechanical movements and the biotensegrity function become the motor that moves the body rather than using directed or trained muscular movements as a movement source. Through this practice of inner listening the dancers radiate a strong magnetic presence since they are resonating with each passing felt moment. In this way the fourth wall of the theater setup is energetically broken. The sensation of pleasure felt by the dancers performing from within a state of inner listening and being moved as opposed to moving/dancing from a space of control, is a parallel but opposed reality to the disconnectedness, numbness, lack of control and autonomy they represent to the viewer. This is the case in all the works made and is a conscious gesture within the act of making performance works focused on the darker realities of lived human life.
The Broken, Exhausted, Saturated Body (2014-2015)
Burned out and saturated physiological and psychological states became the central figure of exploration through the expanding practice in 2014 & 2015. On stage these states were channeled into the vulnerability of the anti-hero, a paradigmatic type of our performance- oriented neo- liberal society. A representation of a taboo, the body of this anti-hero stands for all that remains after exploitation, exhaustion, psychological implosion and overstimulation. Exploring it physically and choreographically enabled a particular presence and body to be on stage, from which the consequences of increasing isolation, victimization and commodification within society could be pondered on and met. Letting the body fall and surrender to gravity without resistance, this body continued its emptying and disintegration to extreme states of utter physical incapacity to move. The work of the dancers was to enter into particular physical states at various levels of being undone and surrendered. These body states are celebrated as visceral denials of the externally and internally imposed imperatives to achieve, and draw a contrast with the logic of hyperactivity by presenting an alternative kind of energy and strength. They are asserting a different, vulnerable and fragile body; a body that discovers its own strength in its vulnerability and openness. A body that opposes influences that are unhealthy to it exerts a subversive power over its environment. It transfers itself, as a kind of physical-energetic contagion, onto the bodies of the audience. The disintegration of the performer’s bodies is taken into the inner reality of the audience through the steady, slow, and hypnotic transformation taking place in front of their eyes.
The Subjective, Private, Emotional Pathological Body (2015-17)
Within the FULL DROP into the Body practice a new cycle of a two year research into full body states, so called HYPERSTATES, was launched with the specific aim of expanding from the more general physiological body states formerly researched and worked with towards the realm of encapsulated biographical emotional states. The aim was to move away from choreographed somatic material of slow autonomous movements of inner systems towards working with animated movements, dynamic and rhythmical in nature, which are produced by so called auto-compositional states. The research extended into examining what makes space and time expanding experiences of internal and altered states visible from the outside and how to invite and choreograph invisible energetic realities and communication.
The states researched are deep meditative states from where the practitioner experiences more clearly inner energetic realities and their own outer subtle body energy fields, as well as biographical visceral realities such as the pain body and memories encapsulated/engraved in the tissue.
Harnessing the capacity to enter into different selected states at will and having them become the onus of the dance creates an alternative performative presence and performance material. These auto-compositional states are used within a choreographic context to explore the realm of the subjective, private, emotional pathological body. The performance work in itself is a channeling of sentiments and pathological realities present in the tissue bringing into focus the subjective reality of our lived lives.
The interconnected body researched during the period 2018-2022
The Unconscious Energetic Body (2018 and onwards)
The performance work and interdisciplinary collaborations conducted between 2018-2022 deal with the intersection of the human inner and outer energy fields and external surrounding energies. The work shifted its focus from the introspective and biographical body towards exploring the non-personal interconnected body as a part of a dynamic, energetic landscape. This is done in part by becoming more conscious of the inherent inherited and conditioned body memory and the cognitive wiring directly associated with it and by recognizing how it relates to the perception we have of ourselves and of the outside world. Releasing those internal structures can be called a de-conditioning practice. Through the advancing practice a space is created for an inherent cellular imprint of the archetypical to surface. From there the work is directed towards an availability for a conscious and immersive dialogue with the energetic forces around us.
A highly sensitized body emerges from years of engagement with the FULL DROP into the Body deep tissue release visualization practice, manifesting concretely in increased presence, consciousness of and availability to be moved by and in resonance with outer and inner forces outside of the scope of the analytical mind. In a certain sense and from a phenomenological perspective it can be called embodied dance.