FULL DROP into the Body is a practice where de-conditioning meets artistic research and a choreographic vision
Displaying the politics of intimacy is 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. During the last 10 years, a research into what became the FULL DROP into the Body practice catapulted a process of mapping out a new category of performative body language, ways of developing it and transferring the knowledge both practically and theoretically to the wider international dance scene and academia. In 2017 a collaboration on Somatic Archiving with Professor Susan Kozel began in relation to her Living Archives project at Malmö University in Sweden (2012-2018). With the aim to continue to deepen a phenomenological research into somatic materialism by exploring the translation of embodied states into writing and back again. Using as a base the 10 year journey of Guðjónsdóttir somatic research into the pathological body and its inner systems.
The performance works has political relevance to the ongoing discourses of the international dance scene by engaging in the ongoing discussion of healing, feminism, interconnectedness, notions of energetic citizenship, and the pathology of the social political body within the choreographic context. The works made over the last 10 years 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. Creating a platform for the examination of the antihero, the burned-out self, the over-exposed, the imploding, the alienated, and the isolated and marginalized private body. In observing this work, the audience experiences a rush of intimacy from being party to genuine heightened physical and emotional states. This fact reinforces the theme in the practice of allowing the performer and viewer access to states that are usually extremely private, thereby opening up the way for a profound experience that is disarmingly radical in its manifestation and politics. 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. 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. From a starting point of letting the body fall and surrender, this body continues its emptying and disintegration to an extreme state during the course of the performances. This disintegration of the bodies of the performers is taken into the inner reality of the audience through the steady, slow, and hypnotic transformation taking place in front of their eyes. The result is a cohort of radically de-bordered bodies that portray the anonymous multitude. 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. Forming a corporeal language that serves as a doorway into the subconscious. This language is marked by an infinite presence that reveals and provokes in the same moment. It breaches the divide between performer and audience in a meeting that is explosive in its intensity. Together, exploring and confronting the inner landscape of the de-bordered body, offering up an alternative reality of physical pleasure and pain that with surrender to our shared reality.
Creating the circumstances to be undone The FULL DROP into the Body practice questions older concepts of how we relate to our professional body and methods of disciplining and dominating that body in order to gain control over it and have it perform for us. Once the plasticity of the human matter is recognized, de-conditioning our formerly imprinted body memory, can be seen as a political act.
Three categories of the researched introspective body initiated to serve the performance works made between 2013-2017:
The Alienated and Isolated body (2010-2013)
Since 2010 the research work has been grounded in a practice that brings together the physiological and psychological states of the body, with a focus on working and exploring pathologies of the social-political body within our own bodies. The first three years of research into the practice from 2010-12 were carried out privately by the choreographer, with and through her own body and with the single aim of de-conditioning formally imprinted body memory related to professional dancers training. This led to the developement of a new practice FULL DROP into the body and used for the first time in the creation of the commissioned performance Step Right To It (2013). The aim of that performance was working with the physicality and the cultural phenomena of the alienated isolated body. Created by the overpowering visual digital culture which the millennials performing in the piece were born into, and reflecting on the reality of this often unconscious state. The physicality explored was based on a deep tissue release, which emphasized utter surrendering to gravity in order to be able to quiet the mind and body enough to connect with the biorhythm of the cerebral spine fluid. In that way stepping away from referential movements, directed movements and muscular work as a source of movement and undoing former training and approach of analyzing, controlling and manipulating the body. Once the capacity to release into the act of non doing and entering into an inner listening where the inner movement of the spine becomes the motor that moves you without out any other distraction. An impression of an unconscious and non responsive state of being is transferred and an impression of the dancers being over come by something more powerful then their will. Through the inner listening the dancers radiate a strong presence each passing felt moment. Whilst their performativity is non conforming to the context of theater.
The Broken, Exhausted and Empty body (2014-2015)
The Blind Spotting Performance Series was created during 2014 and 2015 and consisted of in total 4 works. Within a production system that puts emphasis on the new and maximum 2 months working processes. A series of four works that revolved around the topic of the broken burned out body was launched in order to create working conditions which made it possible for the people involved to dedicate longer periods of time to work in-depth to develop the ambitious and detailed body work necessary to convey this specific theme.
On stage condensing it to the vulnerability of the anti-hero, a paradigmatic type of our performance-oriented society. A representation of a state that is a taboo in our neoliberal society. The body of this anti-hero stands for all that remains of it after exploitation, exhaustion, psychological implosion and overstimulation. Exploring this physically and choreographically enabled unique bodies to be presented on stage, from which the consequences of increasing isolation, victimization and commodification within society could be pondered on.
These states became the central figure of exploration through the expanding practice. With a detailed focus on the introspective body transferring itself as a kind of physical-energetic contagion, onto the bodies of the audience. From a starting point of letting the body fall and surrender, this body continues its emptying and disintegration to an extreme state. Creating an utter physical incapacity to move while be highly sensitized. The work of the dancers was entering this physical states of surrendering while still having notion of linear time and space negating execution of predetermined actions.
From a choreographic perspective the research questions were; In which way, on a vibrational level, do inner systems of the body communicate directly to other bodies in the space and how can that be made visible, worked with consciously and emphasized within the context of a performance event.
The following works belong to this series of works: Blind Spotting (2014) a performance for 8 dancers. SPOTTED (2014) a duet version of the larger 8 dancers performance. In the Blind Spot (2015) a solo performance, a solo version of the larger 8 dancers performance, commissioned and produced by Angela Schubot and choreographed and coproduced by Guðjónsdóttir. Blind Spotting – Film version (2014), an artistic documentation of the 8 dancers Blind Spotting performance.
The subjective private emotional pathological body (2015-17)
Through a framework of nurturing personal and professional connections, deep trust, and long-term commitment with the dancers I worked with, I was able, together with them, to embark on a five-year-long journey weaving through the pathological body and its inner systems. Focussing on de-conditioning more and more of our omnipresent body memory and the cognitive wiring we have developed that is directly associated with it. The practice is based on meditation visualisations, bone work, and development of intensive deep inner listening and surrendering to inner body systems and rhythms. Through the action of letting go of control by entering into an active-passive state of inner listening, we surrender to non-action and thus create a space to witness whatever arises. Without manipulation or judgement in the way we have come to be able to enter into formerly unknown full body states. Opening up our experience to the subconscious and inviting the unconscious to manifest. Creating the circumstances to be ‘undone’.
Within the FULL DROP into the Body practice a new cycle of research began in the autumn of 2015. It was into full body states, so called HYPERSTATES and continued over a period of two years with the specific aim of expanding from the more general physiological body states towards subconscious biographical states. Moving away from composed somatic choreographed material of slow vibrational, monotonous, general movements of inner systems. Towards auto compositional states of rhythmical nature and animated movements, unique to each dancer, used as performance material.
The advanced practice within the auto compositional states is to be in resonance with what is felt and follow the repercussions and active dialog through this increased perception and not fall into a passive internal private invisible experience through the means of the practice. This work follows up on the basic training of the FULL DROP into the body practice that came before. Knowledge of all inner systems and the states and the sensations they bring. To be able to come into a state incorporating this kind of availability, it is necessary to first coming into reciprocity with and gain knowledge of the reality of your own tissues, in order to sensitize your embodied perspective capacity. These states and practice are deep trans and meditative practices. Where the onus is given to a certain type of channeling of sentiments and pathological realities living in the tissue. Whilst the dancers are framed choreographically remaining anonymous despite the deep intimacy created from the sharing of the lived states in real time. For the choreographic outcome the research included examining what makes space and time expanding, internal, altered states experiences visible from the outside and how to invite and choreograph invisible energetic realities and communication.
Through these new technical means derived from the HYPERSTATES research two new performance works premiered in 2017. HYPER, which was commissioned by the Swedish dance company Cullberg Ballet and Conspiracy Ceremony: HYPERSONIC STATES which premiered in Berlin at the Sophiensaele with a group of long-term collaborators, where the realm of subjective private emotional pathological body was explored.
The Subconscious Energetic body (2018-2020)
From the introspective to the interactive body, the most recent phase of research and performance work 2018-2021:
Outer energy fields become more palpable once the inner listening has become more precise and this is why releasing tonus from the body, muscles bones and nerve tension etc is of high important. That is why the deep tissue release of the FULL DROP practice is so important for the hyper sensitive body to emerge.This training and approach encompasses elements manifesting concretely as increased presence and availability to be done by and be in resonance and dialog with inner and outer forces outside of formerly conditioned body memory and the controlling mind through a completely released body and mind. Entering this space of availability to the present moment and then having the trained capacity to be surrendered enough on all levels to follow whatever comes up, that is an auto compositional state and in its pure form it can be considered as embodied dance.
The research phase between 2018-2020 was build on the Full Drop practice and HYPERSTATES research while moving somewhat away from a focus on the introspective body and further towards recognizing the body as a component part of a dynamic, energetic landscape. Stepping from the introspective into the interactive, a step out of the frame of the personal within the context of the subjective private emotional pathological body, and into a landscape that considers energetic forces at play around us. Through the work developed in 2018 titled Pervasive Magnetic Stimuli, a research was done into the hyper-sensibility to and hyper-awareness of the intersection of the inner and outer energetic fields, and how the energetic forces that move us traverse this boundary. This research encompass the outer and larger tides that move through us, pulling our matter along in their wake. Exploring the lived reality of quantum entanglement, interconnectivity through the plasma of connectivity, connection, and reciprocity, and the nature of the resonance between individuals. The aim was to make visible and get deeply in touch with the colorful reality of the energetic landscapes we navigate on a daily basis partly or in some cases completely unaware. Leaving the introspective body behind and creating the availability for a conscious and submersive dialogue with the energetic forces that move us, swirl around us and through us. In this way exploring a new performative vehicle where the onus is removed from the dancer to perform according to a strict set of externally or internally imposed criteria. Instead offering energetic dialogues both within and beyond the limits of the physical body to arise.
This research opened into philosophical dimensions, integrating the deep fascial release practice of FULL DROP into the Body with philosophical thought and language in collaboration with Professor Susan Kozel. The collaboration has expanded the concept of Somatic Materialism introduced by Kozel in her previous writings and has already produced several outputs such as philosophical essays, conference presentations at international symposium on phenomenology and an archival prototype using Mixed Reality. Through that work, the proposition is to investigate further the concept of immediacy in the FULL DROP into the Body method: the place in the now that occurs before cognitive refection; immediate presence and how it is possible to act from that place. Physically, our organs all shift into a direction before we can even sense the starter of the movement that happens. This can be picked up by us sensorially, and training is possible for how to sense this starter in the body before movement occurs – the starter would be the rise of a momentum in the body and (re)organization of the matter into certain direction. Following this, the movement gets animated in the body and the body is moved by that movement. Kozels interest overlaps with this immediacy and sense of initiation, for in various philosophical writing on affect and in phenomenology this has been called the pre-reflective (Merleau-Ponty), the pre-categorical (Husserl), or even the missing half second (Massumi picking up on a concept from cognitive sciences). This simply means that the body comes first. Somatic states and affect first. In the collaborative work the proposition to understand states of immediacy, and then to see how these can enter into dialogue with philosophy on their own terms: not simply as illustrations of theory. The somatic states that make up the choreography help to construct an understanding of somatic materialism something that is well-needed in the worlds of philosophy and design. Of course, artistic research borrows from theory but in this case the art enters into an equal power relationship with philosophy, nudging it into greater nuance and power to account for liminal bodily states. Written language has to follow the sensorial states of immediacy.