A quote by Ursula Le Guin

Research students on placement contribute to our practise- as well as taking part practically and creatively- with an incredible body of writing about their observations and subjective experience. This writing, in the form of blogs, essays, recordings, dissertations, interviews and feedback, informs the ongoing development of Ambient Jam. Their rigorous articulation of practise provides a vital advocacy of our work within the wider discourse of disability, ethics, society and culture.

Musician, Ryan Michael Evans recently returned home to Minnesota U.S.A after completing his MA in Applied Anthropology at Goldsmiths University in the summer of 2019. As part of his research he spent a year on placement in the Ambient Jam  programme – an immersive embodied journey which then informed his final dissertation.  Towards the end of his placement he also briefly joined the Ambient Jam team as a paid artist.

Keeping the connection with us across the Atlantic and missing the Ambient Jam improvisations, he shared with the team a quote by Ursula Le Guin:

‘Here’s a quote from one of my favourite of hers, the Lathe of Heaven:

“His dreams, like waves of the deep sea far from any shore, came and went, rose and fell, profound and harmless, breaking nowhere, changing nothing. They danced the dance among all the other waves in the sea of being.”

So much of Le Guins work captures something of the spirit of Ambient Jam – and I think this quote does it particularly well. “They danced the dance among all the other waves in the sea of being.” I love that.’

To read his blog about music and sound within Ambient Jam click here:http://entelechyarts.org/blog/ethnographic-look-ambient-jams-sound-world-ryan-evans/

Caring for the artist

A series of blog posts examining the need for artists self-care in an era of increasing pressure, as we find ourselves working within more complex situations in different settings. We are delighted to kick-start this series with a guest blog by Dance artist/Alexander Technique teacher, Kirstie Richardson. Kirstie has extensive experience and expertise of working within different community and health care settings. She is currently visiting Entelechys work as part of her own research & development.


Photo courtesy of Kirstie Richardson

Who cares about ‘Taking Care’ – thoughts on dancers working within health settings

As I laid in bed with a pulled muscle, kicking myself because I should have known better, I felt propelled to write down my thoughts about a subject I have been on my soap box about for over a decade: Recognising in myself that even knowing all this stuff around self-care, I choose at times to press the override button and ignore my very own advice!

Having taught dance and movement for 30 years in a variety of settings with a wide demographic of people, ages, ability and health, I am astounded by mine and others short comings when it comes to taking care of oneself. A dancer is a highly skilled individual who is naturally capable of working in a variety of settings especially if they are free-lance and work within the community. Self reliant, self disciplined, self motivated, self managing, weaving their way through a range of opportunities and often saying YES to too many things. Perhaps a teacher, performer, administrator, mother, entertainer, wardrobe mistress, waiter, and receptionist -the list of the dancing juggler is endless.

So it is here that my concerns begin: Why don’t we take better care of ourselves? Well the obvious answer is most freelancers are trying to make a living and also love their work. But how do we care for ourselves when working with the most vulnerable, those living with life threatening illness, disability, mental health and elders, to name but a few. Dancers are amazing in such settings and offer so much in terms of their knowledge. They are passionate about their art form and believe in it and all that it offers from its playfulness to its subtle quieting of the nervous system. We know how it can enhance our living, help us embrace the moment, listen in to our deepest thoughts and feelings, guide us and support us. We have all experienced it first hand, but what do we do when we have said yes to too much, are not supported in our health settings or by colleagues and we face burn-out.

Well the most obvious thing we ‘should’ do is start listing to our own bodies, because it will be telling us in small ways to begin with that we are overloaded either emotionally and/or physically. Maybe the first step is more sleep and good food, which is a concrete practical solution. But this might not be enough to sustain a workload: Asking ourselves simple questions such as ‘Are you being kind to yourself?’, ‘Are you trying to please too many people’ and ‘have you got an infrastructure in place by which you feel supported?’ may serve you better.

Having taught in hospitals, hospices and mental health units for over 15 years as a freelance dance artist, I have experienced those moments when it is all too much. Thankfully through the good practice of Joe Moran and Dance Art Foundation I have learnt the importance of making sure I have supervision (a one to one session with a qualified therapist to talk about ones work) when I am working in what can sometimes be upsetting or stressful institutions. But for those who are working as an out-reach artist in the community setting, boundaries and time aside for self care becomes more tricky and is often seen as a luxury. I was struck by a conversation with a young dance artist on the brink of tears wondering why she was finding it all so hard to go from the hospice work in the morning (which incidentally the administration team thought was fantastic that she was doing such great ‘worthy’ work), and then having to go on and teach elsewhere in the afternoon. It is wonderful that dance is recognised for being so powerful in these settings but the care for those leading the workshops needs to be taken into consideration, budgeted for and supported fully.

I would suggest that mentor-ship and training for young freelancers is imperative before entering into any vulnerable institutions. It is crucial that a dancer knows that just because she/he can teach a good session in a certain setting doesn’t mean that they must. Knowing where you do and don’t feel comfortable is as important to the teacher as well as the participants.
If we feel vulnerable or afraid when we are teaching, then we are doing a disservice to those who are most vulnerable within the community. The remit for a freelance dancer is so broad that there has to be scope for specialising and saying yes to areas of connection, and no to areas that one feels de-skilled in or unable to cope with.

As I approach my 50th year I feel so supported by my dance practice – a lifelong companion which has led me down many unexpected paths, and I believe wholeheartedly as a teacher in its ability to bring joy and tenderness into other people’s lives. I am thrilled that it is being recognised so fully within health settings, and to all those wonderful dancers out there working in them. So this is a gentle reminder as I remind myself too… remember to take care.

Kirstie Richardson ISMETA
Dance Artist
Alexander Technique and Movement Practitioner
http://www.kirstierichardson.com

Thoughts on learning: Gill Moore, lead artist for Ambient Jam 1, draws on her past experience of being a support worker, to reflect on her own development in her current role for Ambient Jam.

 

During my 17 years of working in Ambient Jam I have grown, often imperceptibly, in lots of important life principles. In my current role as lead artist for the Friday Ambient Jam 1 improvisation events, I oversee the health and safety and practical hosting of each session, as well being part of an improvisation team of dancers and musicians.

This role has helped me to understand how my own personality is expressed and stretched within this context: I am learning about who I am and who I am not, and am affirmed afresh that it’s a role that will be embraced differently by other individuals. Feeling it’s OK to be oneself not just creatively but in a role too, is a gift rather than, as can often be the case, a constraint where we are required to perform a role to an exact template!

As well as being a trained dancer, I worked as a support worker for many years with adults with a broad range of ‘disabilities’, primarily supporting individuals in their homes and in accessing the community. As much as our intention was to relate with a sense of equality and individuality to those we were supporting, it was at times a real challenge to do so: The practical challenges of wheelchairs and physical needs requiring much attention, rotas, budgets, corporate and team dynamics and more meant, as in many other work contexts, the ideals in my heart often seemed hard to see materialise.

People’s physical needs in everyday life and how society responds to these, can hinder opportunities for being creative. The creation of a safe space where our basic needs are attended to but not the focus; where a person can let go of being dependent on another person, and the unique creative expression we bring is received, highlighted and welcomed, is rich in terms of connection and potential.  The Ambient Jam environment has facilitated some amazing times together!

In weekly Ambient Jam sessions we seek to create a learning space where there is a similar opportunity to grow for everyone, in ways I have been able to explore for myself within my role. In collaboration with our members with complex disabilities we try to arrive at moments of creative equality, which celebrates individual quirkiness in all of us.

This particular approach to being part of a social and group space feels radical and refreshing, and often counter to our own lifestyles and the way our society operates.

In Ambient Jam I love the way in which we seek to create a freeing space where the focus isn’t primarily on tasks and needs, but essentially more on creating a space together, where our own individual core identities flourish. This is often a slow and gentle process that takes place through a long term association and building relationships and trust. It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to witness the rich potential in growth and development in our members and ourselves, and what is really possible over a long time.

It’s still gritty: The reality is that we may need to navigate together someone amongst us having a seizure or needing to be changed, or feeling distraught, and more. We have to grow in resilience, understanding and working together at such times. However these moments are woven seamlessly into our music and movement work together.

Somehow in our small expression of community we are seeking to push beyond a focus on just care needs, and see each of us as an individual with a life affirming creative contribution to bring to the improvisation. We are learning to embrace each other (whether ‘able’ or ‘disabled’) as unique in our own identity and gifting.

So, as I seek to explore my own creative identity, I delight in contributing to a context that also releases others. And, as many of us have discovered, such a space is an amazing gift and one that continues to be a growing and re-calibrating environment on all sorts of levels for us.  It has also been good to witness it as a rich space for those (such as research students and volunteers) that visit, and dare to ‘jump in’ too!

 

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In this guest blog by Debra MacDonald,-a well-being coordinator working in an East London nursing home-she chronicles a vital cultural and creative, yet often hidden aspect of her work on dying. Debra shares her experience with us, as part training for Entelechy artists working with her on our ‘Walking through walls’ programme

 

Beauty in Death  by Debra MacDonald

We all have different views and beliefs and kind of expect death to be a nasty suffering and awful experience to go through. But death does not have to be looked at in this way. If you know death is coming for whatever reason you can somewhat prepare; it depends on you as a person, on our upbringing and association with death. Sudden is harder for me and having seen death in many environments and ways, I taught myself grief does not have to be sad or death ugly.

When death is approaching I learnt to nurture it, to make it as beautiful as life, creating a space that is tranquil, fun, happy, comforting. I cannot take away someone’s pain or disease, but I can give them a warm smile and friendly hand and comforting words, but most of all a sense that the last days , hours, minutes can be beautiful: a combing of hair, a favourite song, a laugh, a joke; even if I’m not seen or heard I’m there. Who said anywhere death has to be dull, sad, lonely. Instead like a bird free, like life before.

We all see what we want to, behave how we’ve been taught and act how for decades. That’s what death is. But I see the person, no matter who they are and take time to care.

Imagine a ballet: the beginning is life, the middle a story, the end the last steps. Just like life itself it ends, but we hold beauty like music within a story. Last breaths, seeing the pain in someone’s eyes slowly going, the feeling they know its time. You feel every second, you smile, like that bird you fly, like the ballet the story is over.

When someone passes I look to the clouds. I step outside and breathe freedom, death is a beautiful freedom. Death can be beautiful.

In ‘Walking through walls’ Entelechy artists are embedded in nursing homes over a long period of time, often many years. As relationships deepen and the creative work evolves from a long term association with the community living there, our artists gradually witness and are changed by the fact that many people they grow to know and work with pass away.

We are lucky and privileged to collaborate with the well -being coordinators based in the homes, where there is an exchange of skills and insight between us all. Debra MacDonald is the well –being coordinator working in a nursing home in Poplar where  artists Shakti Gomez and Max Rolaz have been developing work for ‘Walking through walls’ since September.

Principle Shifts

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20 years of twists and turns in Ambient Jam with Peri Mackintosh

Every life is a piece of art, put together with all means available. Pierre Janet

Music is so much less than what you are. Mike Heron

Introduction

In over twenty years of doing Ambient Jam, I have taken a number of approaches to it. Here is a timeline of some of those approaches.

Channeling – the medium is the massage

Touch. To me to you. Skin and bone, broad-banding a superhighway of nuance. Our interiors in very private dialogue.
It seems.

Make it big

Micro movement. Muted murmur. I relay. I amplify. I enlarge the gesture, shout what was whispered. So that the room will know.
But who will care?

Making a drama

Shying from this intense actuality, I enrol in high drama.I bluster into make believe.A show time bonanza. A whirl of ritual, buto, camp opera, performance art. Flash fun.
Is anyone left behind?

Keeping in the loop

The swarm principle.Let’s stay together. My task? Be the link Be the binding between us all.
Us all?

Another planet

Training task – facilitator become participant.Shock. Seeing the irrelevance of my practice, my solipsistic fire heaped over the mute participant. My whirling whirring’s irrespective of their perspective.

Slammed my face in the balance of power.
Was this hidden or did I look the other way? 

  • Is art relevant to participants?
  • Do they want to belong?
  • Do they need to please?

Don’t get in the way

“being in a place she can be herself”, her mother said. “That is the best thing.”
Is this about space for agency?

Agency

the capacity of

  • individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices
  • an actor to act in a given environment.

Mixing

Joe Boyd the producer says you can always add material, but remember, everything you add in some way masks what was originally there.
For a participant to be heard, to be seen….

Can I be quieter, listen, pay attention?

Witness

Two participants find each other.

They go.

Where they will…


					

‘Where are you going as an individual, internally, and as an artist? Where are we going as a group together with our members?’: An Ambient Jam2 team meeting discussing the learning and creative patterns emerging within multi-sensory improvisation.

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Ambient jam 2 is a weekly programme bringing together a team of young professional artists, with young emerging artists with complex disabilities and learning disabilities. Managed by dance artist Rainer Knupp with artists Jai Channa, Yolanda Bramble-Carter, Olive Molyneux, Assia Ghendir and Lee Phillips, the work contributes to our on going inquiry into sensory-led culture and communication anchored by the work of our members with complex disabilities.

I was interested in the openness of debate, self scrutiny and the language the team struggle to apply to embodied experience; and so, with their permission, here is a raw transcript taken from an evaluation meeting: (Due to confidentiality names of participants have been changed.) Rebecca Swift Creative Director, Entelechy.

‘What other skills, qualities do you yourself think you are developing?’ 

Rainer: What do you think is really important in terms of inner qualities in the ambient jam sessions? In other words what are we developing there? What other skills, qualities do you yourself think you are developing? I think it can be a useful question to evaluate yourself a little bit. Somehow it is connected to the question are we just repeating ourselves? Where are you going in your development as musician and performer, then where are we going as a group?

There were a few sessions this term where we structured more within the session and so there is a question: what did we do there and how can we develop a choreographic structure even more, like on purpose?

So the other day I brought in some really nice quality paper and put it on the wall with the idea of somehow implementing the structure with a drawing; and then Sheila really likes drawing, and the problem was that no-one went to the wall to paint and draw, so I just lifted some of the paper off and gave it to Sheila so the idea became drawing and sitting. Then people started drawing with her on the same piece of paper and so the paper had that ripped off bit which was beautiful, stayed white, and at the end I taped it back onto the paper so that it became a kind of beautiful painting. It was really amazing and it reminded me of the work I used to do years ago as a choreographer where I was using drawing and movement. I was interested in how to draw and move and how they related, which was very specific. I thought how could I put that into ambient jam and that was it ,and then something came out that was really surprising (with Sheila) and I hadn’t really planned that to come out.

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So really it’s a very loose choreographic structure but then there are other parts where we developed a choreographic structure with Ben. We developed choreography with him that was repeatable; and then suddenly other people came in to relate in a different way to other people in the space because of the choreographic structure, and then did other movements. It was just so refreshing and it was such a different way of being in the space, because of the mixture of choreography and process and also for Ben a new challenge to repeat something and be part of a ‘dance class’.
Where are going as an individual internally and as an artist?
Where are we going as a group together with our members?

Rebecca: Drawing and movement is so rich you could deepen that enquiry over time and include how sound superimposes, so you are looking at all the sensory threads. How sound becomes a palpable aesthetic within drawing and choreography? It already does as Jai – musician, moves into the space and …..

Patterns in music and space
Rainer: ……..It does, there were musical sculptures emerging. I remember what changed for me last term, I started staying with musical themes much longer, just staying with the drum and not shying away.
Jai: This time I have been doing a lot with melodic instruments and making them rhythmic. It would be playing a phrase and repeating that phrase over and over and over…you know when you say a word lots of times until you have lost all meaning of the word. So just going around and around and just exploring the quality and making real micro changes to it: playing 5 notes on the ukulele round and round, just changing an accent every now and then, really subtle, then every now and then I will actually change a note, really gradual migration, don’t know if people notice it.
Rainer: There was something much more tangible about it I felt.
Jai: They are really simple themes, nothing is out of the ordinary rhythm. It’s just a lot of repetition. I think I used to be scared of things like that, that they would get boring and you don’t feel worth in it and you don’t have value in yourself for doing it. I got that idea from Sophia a lot, she goes round and round the room, so I follow her a little bit
Rebecca:….then she changes a feature of the room through moving a bit of furniture
Jai: I have been quite bored of the drums this term, but then I have had a chance to really explore the things I have, so I have found lots of different sounds on my one drum. I have got like 20 different ways to hit it now – just exploring different areas of that one thing; I think I am better with letting things drop and then just waiting for the time to come in again.
Rebecca: How long would you say one phrase in a melody lasts from beginning to end, so that you then repeat it again?
Jai: I would say about two bars. It’s like a question. How long is a question? How long is one statement? It could be quite a complex statement or phrase or it could be a few words. And every now and then the question changes. Normally music is like question and answer, question and answer, but this is question – tweak, same question – tweak, until you have a different question at the end. I have managed to get inside things a lot, inside notes, inside sounds. It’s been very thin texture compared to last term; rarely are there two things happening at once. I have got rid of the drone.
Rebecca: You have really pared down, risking getting to the bone of it.
Jai: Interesting I have a loop pedal now so that might be full of texture.
Rebecca: I think to get to an interesting place of technique you almost have to let go of the outcome; which is about paring down and paring down until you have barely got anything – the residue, and then you build up differently.
Jai: Am still trying to shape these over- sounds, usually when you haven’t got anything else to do, it’s like ‘filler’, like 10 % of the session is that filler, which feels like an excuse for sound, it’s just sound so that you guys can get moving, it doesn’t have any value or….
Yolanda: You have been doing more silences as well
Rebecca: Different types of silences?
Yolanda: Specially when you move into the space
Rebecca: I wonder if the ‘filler’ is about, ‘I better put a brick out there just to create a bit of architecture’, like a reference point, at least for people to push against it; or for it to contain the anxiety of coming together, at that arrival time, like a threshold moment is when you might put a brick in. Any threshold moment we always feel a bit more anxious and fillers might be important in speaking to those thresholds when something shifts, and then you take it away when you don’t need it anymore.
Jai: Yeah and for a long time that is what the drone was.
Rebecca: It was ‘containing’ everybody in the space. But now something has happened over time where containment of the session has shifted to other places in the group as trust forms and so we are not so reliant on you (and the music) do that quite as much?
Rainer: I am really interested in how the music feels de valued…..
Assia: The minimalistic……
Rainer: Yes that the music isn’t so valuable then…
Jai: Yes, when I don’t need to think about it, I just need to play now, just making noise for no reason and the only reason is to give you a bit of comfort…..
Rainer: In a way that is what we are also doing, all of us
Assia: Is it about exploring more into the micro?
Jai: When I see you move I think everything you are doing is completely full of purpose and nothing is out of place and nothing is, ’you don’t know what you are doing’…or filler or…and maybe it’s the same when you are looking on me?
Group: exactly
Rebecca: I think ‘filler’ is always there and it’s interesting in itself.
Yolanda: Yeah, it’s a bit like chucking something out there.
Rebecca: yeah, and let’s see what happens.

Rebecca: When you talked about Sophia going round in a circle, as a metaphor, and each time something slightly different happens and you are capturing that. Similarly with Jadie maybe, you are going round in a circle, but a different type of one more gestural from where she is seated, tighter, more micro. There is a potential frustration that you want to make things a bit more challenging for her. It’s a bit like engineering at what time do things buckle or need to buckle in a good way: tension/frustration points; seems you are working with that tension all the time. I love the repetition, it’s meaningful. As you say it doesn’t seem to get much value, as it doesn’t seem to be outcome driven in a way that we recognise.
Jai: Or come away thinking, ‘that music was great’; I pushed myself technically great, it was a complicated scale….
Rebecca: Our drummer, Charles Hayward , because he has been away from Ambient jam for a bit performing and touring, expressed how good it was to come back…because you get back in touch with the fundamentals…..the way I understood it was that as a musician he felt he would lose touch with it otherwise…
Yolanda: Yeah that’s what Assia was saying when she came back from Indonesia.
Spatial patterns and agency as choreography.
Assia: Am just wondering, when I left, Sophia was starting to come into the middle…….of the space? Am wondering how that has been for this term.
Rainer: I think, just more spontaneously she crosses the middle, much more naturally. And she comes closer to us, very close….and it feels more relaxed, not a big deal.
Also she looks more….towards us.
Rebecca: She does seem to look more towards you all. She is moving the chair and then seeing ….like a theatre maker within it. What point do her gestures turn into being a theatre maker?
Yolanda: Still moving chairs about.
Group: I love that!
Assia: She is very curious about our reaction when she moves something. She kind of…I can see she is waiting for something to react there.
Rebecca: Meeting, how do her actions meet others?
Yolanda: I think she is trying more things out as well…she dives into the musical box and rummages….she confidently knows what she wants and doesn’t like….what she wants to play with and what she doesn’t want to play with…its interesting watching her go through different things…
Rebecca: In time you might find that Sophia is like a leader, director, someone who might want to direct all of you in a way that brings out the best in all of you. In a way she is throwing another brick out by moving that table, moving that chair, then anti moving that table and chair in contrast to how you moved it, to keep you on your toes. You are never allowed to get complacent with her.
Rainer: Yeah, I think she has been a leader from the very beginning. She is leading us quite a bit….

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Speed drawing  by Jai Channa after an ambient jam session

On freedom and boundaries, and being rescued.

Rebecca: I think your question of where you are going as an individual, is it good for each of you to have a chance to talk about that? I know its exposing, but it’s a small group which is good, to talk a little in the same way that Jai did…but not even to know where you are going. Just to begin.

I like Rainer what you have done with introducing those questions: Where you are going as an individual in terms of your own internal world, where are we going as a group, and also our members?
Rainer: And they are really difficult ones
Assia: I can tell you what has been my discovery, which is really big. I have discovered it is very important to respect boundaries and I usually tend to constantly break boundaries, break limits, open- open- open, naturally. Since I have been doing Ambient jam I have learnt that it is very important to respect my own limits. It brings trust also, so that they trust me ….that’s what I felt: If I am solid in a way, obviously allowing myself to be vulnerable, but keep my ground. I think deep -this is what I am going to do and I am going to do it, and it pushes them to go out of their limits-‘oh!?’ ;because they are really curious…so –‘oh’?! That has been amazing for me, really deeply, in my daily growing.
Rainer: It is quite a skill…
Rebecca: It’s hard. As you say its grounded, but how to be within the center of yourself, but not too centered that you can’t be open to the unexpected…interesting quote about therapists which implies that you need this balance between centered and not too centered, even a bit all over the place so you are open to whatever comes in, but enough grounded. Feels like you are mapping an anatomy of dialogue or of a conversation, and what that does to each other- how we all come out of our comfort zones?

“[Bion] depicts an analyst patiently waiting in a semi-fragmented, bits-and-pieces state until a take on the emotional reality of the session clicks into place. He describes this as a movement from patience to security that never ends.”
Michael Eigen – The Insensitive Self p. 5
Rainer: I find it also interesting in terms of when I describe Ambient jam, I always describe it in a way that it has a lot of freedom in it
Assia: Yes it’s very free…
Rainer: But it’s very interesting that what you actually discovered completely the opposite; or you discovered something that you need….
Assia: ….Yes because I am like this (free) originally.
Rainer:…..and also that is something unique within freedom, you also need to know when to pull back and how to solidify, and then how not to solidify too much.
Assia: And that’s why the idea of developing a choreography of some sorts really attracts me a lot.
Rainer: Which also can be, this is something as we said happens before, it can also be to bring some instructions into the session – let’s all do this now; we are free to do that.
Also,different if that is coming from the feeling that the space needs it? Or it comes from, ‘ I want to try something choreographic’? That for me is also an interesting distinction. I can’t always feel what is needed in the space and how can I change the space towards that? Maybe that is also more practical. Maybe it’s all about questions: How many elements can I see in the space, maybe at the end everything is all amalgamated anyway? When it’s in flow it doesn’t matter I suppose. Quite a nice lightness to be able to give instructions.
Rebecca: Yeah, its shows that there is not just one right approach, and that it’s not wrong to come in with a prescribed thing; you can come in with a prescribed thing from a different context. There are key words you are all coming up with….keep saying: Structure, freedom, repetition, cycles, instructions…
Yolanda: It is complicated….
Rebecca: I think its balance, and when you are reassessing the balance of things – when it’s ready for the counter balance; so we have been in a place that’s been ‘anti certain structures, because structure seems to be so tight….even over ego- led by just a few, although maybe there is nothing wrong with ego-led even, it’s just got over balanced, so it’s got polarised in the opposite direction. But what you are finding in ambient jam 2 is that the polarisations are not happening between these things.
Olive: What do you mean by that?
Rebecca: It feels like things are integrating in Ambient jam 2, what seems like opposite qualities are getting closer together? Maybe in Ambient jam 1 it is slightly different because many of our members there are of the generation that were brought up in big hospitals and institutions; am assuming theoretically that you will have that narrative there in the room, that people might have experienced being over institutionalised, and given too much of the wrong kind of freedom (lack of engagement) and wrong kind of structure? So we do have to go the other way it feels, so that we recover lost ground, which can take years…..?
Assia: Yeah it’s just re balancing. And it’s constantly moving.
Rebecca:  constantly shifting dynamic. Maybe when trust has built up as a group, you are not having to hold the back story.
Rainer: I think we are still doing that more with our two new participants, for e.g.: with Richard I really don’t know him that well, and I am finding it difficult to relate with him. There are many of his communication I can’t really read and I don’t really know, where I can feel he brings a history, and I kind of- there is not that freedom where I can just know. Still feels like a polarisation for me. I can feel what he brings, I can also feel I am trying to balance it somehow. Trying to deal with it. With Sheila is different because I feel she integrated from my perspective much quicker.
Rebecca: She is more on her own terms?
‘Shaky tenderness’ and liminal spaces
Yolanda: It feels like it’s more about something else before I started, then it was like a safe haven, and a relief, like a rescue joining this group, from the world. Now, it’s building on something that’s in the room. And I’m beginning to feel- not just about me the relief its giving me being in the room, but about building on me and the members together. I am feeling how important it is to bring the ‘you-ness’ into the space. I wrote you-ness, oneness and awareness, but it’s too vague.
Rainer: ‘rescue from the world’ – can you explain that a little bit more?
Assia: Did you say rescue from the world?
Yolanda: Is it not like that for you guys?
Assia: No it was rescue from myself really!
Yolanda: Yeah I suppose that definitely…rescue from yourself in that world.
Rebecca: It is interesting in that we are all coming into a liminal space, which is what you are saying; a chance to de-role, come away from our mutual worlds, everybody’s worlds, and you are stepping away and into whatever a liminal space is, which is a threshold space where other possibilities can emerge, mmm like going on holiday is supposed to be a liminal space, step away from the roles you normally hold and then you have to re-enter back in the world, but with something slightly altered? Maybe that’s what theatre should be, once was, is still, is a liminal space?
‘Rescuing something’ – interesting phrase. Got urgency to it and it’s about trying to catch something.
Rainer: Did you have a feeling you were able to be more yourself? The rescue can relate to that?
Yolanda: Yes and no, it took away that pressure to be something….I don’t know…..
Rebecca: You are probably mapping a process that is actually happening to all of us, but we haven’t been able to find the right words, and maybe it’s simply about encountering each other and not knowing who anybody is and how you are in that; you can’t know who you are until you know who Richard is? it’s that ‘shaky tenderness’* at the start.
Assia: True, each of them awakens something in you that you don’t even know.
Rebecca: Who am I in relation to you and you in relation to me. It epitomizes that phrase *’shaky tenderness’ by a Buddhist monk:
*I was introduced to the concept of ‘shakey tenderness’ by the dance theatre maker Cai Tomos. He described his work in hospital wards often as moments of connecting with someone you didn’t know in a transient space , where this was both vulnerable and full of possibility: “Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche Speaks of ‘Shaky Tenderness’ this is the best description I have found of what it feels like to enter the relational field and suspend the need to know and to deeply respect the ‘non-linear’ which creativity asks of us.” Cai Tomos

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After session drawing by Jadie – a participant.

What is ‘best”: how do you know what is good.
Yolanda: Just on a practical level, it does remind me, how much time it takes to build each time we have a break, so we are slightly starting anew again.
Rebecca: Ideally it would be nice for you to work more in depth; like a more intensive project to really look at what does it mean to have a musical cycle that repeats itself; how does form and choreographic structure emerge in this hanging out space?
Silence.
….you have got constraints. They are constraints with a certain period of time and a certain amount of weekly repetition you are working with. Only so much you can do within that time/space/time. And there is so much each of us can let go within that?
Silence.
Yolanda: Only in the last few sessions….every session I feel, oh that’s the best session, it was better than the last, but the last one was really something. I don’t know why that was ‘some- thing’.
Rebecca: What is some-thing, what is best?
Yolanda: Best-How do I measure that? Is it the feeling that I have in me?
Assia: Is it because of the interaction?
Yolanda: I don’t know how I judge it.
Rebecca: Just reading a book on subjectivity and phenomenology where he says that even with science you cannot avoid subjectivity….that it’s not possible to be truly purely objective.
Listen to the subjective as well.
Yolanda: When it gets into that objective space, that’s when I lose it and I get these ‘not really going anywhere’ perpetual negative thoughts; the work dissipates.
Rainer: What’s ‘that’? Is it the analytical part?
Rebecca: Dissipates. What do you mean by that?
..when things seem to not ground themselves when……..?
Assia: Like, that is good, and that is not good, and
Rainer: Yeah, you just sense it.
Assia: It’s true, what makes it good or this or that?
Yolanda: Do you worry about it not being good or looking for it?
Rebecca: I know what you mean, there are moments where you can feel worried because there is no shape and form to hold the work or interaction. It feels insecure, awkward and actually I am feeling disorientated…..a failure. But maybe that is just a landscape which we just travel through every now and then and we get better at tolerating that; and that’s what we do – we get skilled at tolerating that, part of the process.
Yolanda: Ah, actually that’s what I feel, I have got better at tolerating that, not being so surprised by it.
Rebecca: I had it in ambient jam 1 the other day partly because someone was watching me as well…’am going now!’
Yolanda: One minute you can be really fine and next minute you can be…
Rainer: Yes it changes within seconds.
Rebecca: This might be more revealing of me, but do you have moments when the work and connection is going so well that you think ,‘Oh God, it’s got to go bad now!’ It gone so well for so long it’s going to go bad now.
Group: Laughter. Yeah!
Yolanda: Trying to keep where you are at…
Olive: Yeah, it’s that oscillation between those moments of being free when you are in your body and then it switches to- you’re so hyper aware of what you are doing, and it’s that transition, and it can happen so fast- and trying to get back into your body sometimes – it’s really hard; and that tension that arises when you feel that. I think for me when I do have those moments of tension, I think sometimes I am quite hard on myself and I feel like, …yeah, what you said about respecting yourself, that’s a really important thing for me and realising when you are ok in yourself and being easy on yourself.
Yolanda: Yeah, at first I was really rigorous. At first I came in more with the mind set ‘ok intense interaction skills’- I came from quite a theatrical background from Uni and I was really …am very different now…Now it’s about the types of modes of movement, I feel like I am using different modes now.
Rebecca: What is a mode?
Yolanda: I can be myself dancing, or I could be more intensive interaction – kind of mirroring. But actually it doesn’t have to be that. That is what is I came in thinking that that is more how I should communicate non-verbally. But it is about something different now, it’s more spontaneity…. I am appreciate different qualities.
Rebecca: Not just with the body being overtly moving
Yolanda: That’s what I came in thinking, that is what is more what I should communicate non-verbally.
Rebecca: Not just with the body not overtly moving
Yolanda: Yeah, being stronger in your own movement. It’s completely the opposite when you are on your own now with Sophia. She comes up to you and wants to get involved
It’s good for them to see different dynamics of you that they can feel.
Rebecca: They want that because otherwise you are on their case
Yolanda: Yeah exactly
Olive: Yeah, when do you initiate contact, when do you not, when do you wait for contact or do initiate it… that’s another struggle that is really interesting?
Rebecca: When do you walk away, because you have reached your limits, or when stay and you tolerate uncertainty? Jeff (participant) in Ambient jam 1, he chooses when he’s had enough chatting to you and he does it so beautifully. He just wonders off, and I think that that was such a perfect time to stop and go
Rainer: He is not hasty at all and he just stays completely in his rhythm. It’s like amazing
I think we are looking at group processes here: you can be alone in the presence of others, or in a duet in the presence of others, in a group in each other’s presence are all a part of things; we are not talking about a one to one although you can be that in the group.
How spatial patterns tell a story?
Yolanda: The space as well has come to my attention more. More about the body in space
Rainer: There are spatial awareness’s within the body I think
Rebecca: Do you think that Sophia walking through the space, she is introducing a new part of the story; or is the peripheral of the space meaningful in another part of the story in contrast to lying down on the floor- In terms of choreography, how choreography comes into one of its strands.
Rainer: Rebecca could you repeat what you just said?
Rebecca: You were talking about space, and the way you were moving your hands just now made me think that you were thinking with your hands. So I was remembering what you saying before about shape, form and choreographic structures that are repeatable. I was also remembering how somebody was talking about how Sophia walked through the middle of the space: when I chanced upon the last half hour of your session a week ago, it seemed spatially significant and formed- you had a group of 4 people in moving shapes, slightly off centre, whilst one person was consistently going around perimeter of the space; there was duet, separate but connected to the small group choreography; it all had a sense of orbiting round or being orbited round. I was wondering about ‘space’ being a story or there is a story within how space is embodied related to…..?
I know space is not a human being with a consciousness but it can be a tangible object and there is a philosophy there- how one strand of choreography is the meaning within space?
If Sophia is walking across it, what is it about her story that she brings into the space and what is the space bringing to her story. She is going around it -what is in her story that is ‘going around space’? I also like going round the peripheral of spaces too and so there is something in my story that responds to that. I like looking out of the windows, being in the space but looking away from it .Unlocking this; is there meaning in being near the ground or floating on a chair.
Rainer: Or just sitting there, like Ben just sits for ages on the floor, looks like he doing nothing. I think he became sometimes really comfortable with that. He is really comfortable now I feel, he doesn’t feel he should do something…
Rebecca: He sits more into his spine more, not all forwards.
Rebecca: How does that render the space how is the space rendered?
Assia: Rendered? I don’t know this word.
Jai: To colour….or how it is formed.
Assia: To kind of like fill in?
Jai: When something was rendered it already exists, it goes through a process to make it something else?
Assia: How do you spell that?
Team: R.E.N.D.E.R.E.D.
Yolanda: Is it like you have edited film and you render it?
Jai: Yes as far as I know, it’s like you created it and you want to turn it into something tangible
Rebecca: You bring it into being. I think they use it in science – like rendering the mass of something?
Olive: It has a transformational quality to it.
Yolanda: Sophia kept shutting the doors last time and kept opening the doors. She was rendering it. I was closing them and she was like, no I want them open.
Rebecca: So is Ben, he is rendering the space differently – a bit like a person who is sitting in the middle of the field
Jai (looking at google): It has got about 20 different definitions:
‘The action of applying plaster to a wall, the processing of an outline image using colour and shading to make it appear solid and 3 dimensional, the action of giving or surrendering, to provide or give, to deliver, to cause to be or become, represent or depict, to translate……’
Rebecca: Without any of us there that space would just be all of those walls. But with all of us there…..it’s alive, it’s becoming transformed into the properties it can have, like Sophia is animating one part and Ben another.
I know my usual instinct is ‘Ben is not doing anything, He is sitting there, Help’, but actually he is alright, he is happy there.
Lee: He is quite happy there and enjoying it.
Rebecca: How do we build that into the score, how do you take that into art? Celebrating that actuality maybe- a person who sits in a particular space and time…can have a poetry to it?
Yolanda: That is what we are juggling with. It’s that, the actualities of it and then also us as artists trying to conjure -be art, do art…We are artists, but we are also ourselves, there is a bit of a tension between the two?
Rebecca: Yeah, we are funded by the Arts council and the arts council is going to assess ambient jam 1 in a few weeks’ time? But then what is art? It comes from ourselves, it comes from social spaces, or meandery processes, tinkering….or repeating something until it materialises.
Yolanda: How do you celebrate the actuality?
Rebecca: Yeah at what point? And I think you are at that point when you are beginning to.
Rainer: What does it mean?
Yolanda: When you talk about Ben is sitting in the space for a period of time.
Rebecca: Yeah, he is there for about 20 mins just doing that and Rainer has picked up on the value of that rather than me dancing around thinking ‘Oh my god, nothing is happening, he must be bored’. Feeding back to Ben the value of that is the answer to that question?
So the value of that moment is the artistic expression. Isn’t that partly what art could be?
Yolanda: So it’s the value.
Rebecca: Yeah, the framing of it. Feels like you are beginning to oscillate- the word you used Olive – backwards and forwards between these fundaments. Between, where there is seemingly ‘no art’ to where ‘the art’ is beginning to be actualised.
Rainer: But then the question is always, it’s all subjective. The moment when I feel, when I see the beauty of the way he sits there, like it’s a moment that passes. When we talk about choreographic structure I am also finding myself in this conflict of looking at it from the external and looking at it from the internal, because I am in it and it was an interesting moment, because you (Rebecca) just came in from the outside and you see the choreographic structure, but we are kind of in it where we are also kind of taking it for granted. It doesn’t feel like the choreographic structure when we are in it, but then when you bring the element of choreographic structure – that looks like this or that…then I start thinking about it, then I can bring some awareness to it and there are some moments where I bring some intentionality. That it’s a choreographic structure.
Rebecca: What you are telling me is the tension or relationship between process and product, where you are in the process and you are coming up into product and then you return into the process. I remember Adrian Jackson (theatre director) telling me once that all our work is a constant process, it’s just performance is when we pop our head up into the public sphere and then we return back into our process after that…
Rainer: Yes, and also what I really like is similar to this: Anna Halprin has this kind of image about exactly this –process and product. She said being an artist is like kind of being – she had this image of kind of two circles interlocked like this. The internal process work is here (one thumb curled) here and the more external product work is here (interlocked with the other thumb curled) but they are always interconnected.
I feel when we are meeting for Ambient jam, I feel it is always really important to connect, to really feel and also to really ask each other, ‘how are you’?, because everybody comes with that, with that here, everybody comes with life to ambient jam. It’s really important we celebrate or acknowledge that somehow and then when we talk about choreographic structure…it’s more like it’s here; you know we sometimes bring it a bit into the external, maybe when I think about choreographic structure I am also thinking about performance. Are we talking about performance or not?
Yolanda: About contained performance.
Rainer: Yeah exactly
Rebecca: Are you talking about performance on the terms of the integrity of the actuality of the relationships developed within those weekly sessions, so it wouldn’t have to fit into conventional frameworks? I am just trying to remember when we did try, 12 years ago, when we brought Ambient jam improvisation into the Albany Theatre as performance to an invited audience of 180 people, we were jostling with ideas about what performance is in our culture, so we invited the audience to lie on the floor or rove and not feel they always have to look with their eyes to experience something: we had a moment which was a bit like the Ben moment but with Iris as she liked to simply lie down in the midst of us and it was called ‘In Bed with Iris’, but maybe what is performance?, if it protect the integrity to what that is.
The pedestrian, the practical and being comfortable

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After session drawing – Rainer Knupp

Importance of waiting
Lee Philips: I say from my point of view of Ambient jam is like, wait for a moment before I jump in, keep it calm at first, before being with the participants; being sure that I give myself a chance to see what would Sheila like to do. She really enjoys standing up, walking around a little bit and dancing; waiting to see how well she can enjoy it; sometimes thinking about this even with Richard. The way Sophia does it like she is really active like, curious on how we react, like when she moves a chair moves, or other objects- does the chair move, let her be, let her enjoy herself, she just enjoying what she do, not needing much of a reaction .
Rebecca: You are really noticing, a bit like you are hosts at a dinner partly, how comfortable people are as they arrive. It reminds me about when you do adult teacher training one of the first things you study is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a pyramid- the first part of the pyramid is that you can’t teach anything if people are physically uncomfortable- physical comfort….as you go up the pyramid I think there’s one on emotional safety, self-esteem and spiritual well-being.
Need to ensure people are comfortable and that they feel they have agency is what I heard in what you were saying? Is noticing that Richard might not want to move around a bit at the start, so Richard has a sense of his own agency, so he can bring all himself into the room
Lee: Giving some time if they decide to stand up and move around, but not too much.
Rebecca: Working with your limits, not over extending so everyone is out of breath.
I think that is really important, you have isolated a practical area, and this practical part also informs the story, part of story. Also the mingling, you use the word mingle and that is what you all do, you mingle, something happens, you dissipate, you mingle. There is a pulse, a biology to it.
I love the utilitarian thing of when Richard comes to standing: does he do that because after 15 mins he wants to or does he want to stand straight away, you don’t know, and the practical thing of giving space for pedestrian or practical choreography. Does Sheila want to sit there or there, does Jadie want to lie on the floor.
Rainer: Does she want to run around
Rebecca: Do you want to notice your breathing so you are not holding on to your breath. So Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in being comfortable is there for all of you. You are giving evident space to arriving and settling and that is part of the story. If there was an audience they would be feeling that too or sensing that too.
It’s story telling really
Reminds me of what you were saying, everyone brings life into the room.
Lee: It’s true, really enjoyable, good feeling when you give it a little bit of time and enjoying it.

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Ambeint jam teams training at Cullinanrichards studio
“What came up for me was something about not always feeling the need to interact, but taking the time to know the space I’m in and where people, objects/props are situated. Sensing the energy/vibe of the space as we’ve all been on very different journeys to get into the creative moving space. I personally felt once I’d got all that I was ready for moving, interacting. “ Dancer Mikel Smithen, commenting on Ambeint jam team training.

Transcribed by Rebecca Swift

Co-creation

IMG_0815With not for

“Our work is developed with and not for others”.

This is Entelechy’s elegant first guiding principle.

This suggests to me some sense  of “singing from the same song sheet”.

Joint attention

I think this requires two things.

  • Discovering what it is we are both paying attention to.
  • Finding what we are doing in this 

Significance

To work with you, I need to discover what is significant to you. What is worthy of your attention?

Some participants in Ambient Jam, I guess, see the world in somewhat different ways to me.

This difference has two aspects.

  • What we readily see as significant
  • How we pattern or organise these significances 

Frequently, it appears that what would immediately seem of significance to me or a fellow facilitator as is of no apparent consequence to the participant.

This could be a gesture, a shout, an object. These may all draw the attention of facilitators, yet appear to be utterly ignored by a participant. The opposite is also true.

Patterning

What do you see here? 

Does everyone see what you see?

On a larger scale how I see the significance of how things are arranged can be very different from that of a participant. The patterning of objects, sounds into rhythms and scales, the sequencing of movements in interactions. There are ways of patterning that are immediately, obviously and automatically significant to me and fellow facilitators. To some participants these are entirely inconsequential. And again, the opposite is also true.

I love the challenge in discovering what that “song sheet” is and how are we going to sing it. This thrill’s me.

When we don’t have language to find out, that thrill is intensified.

What is it that is of importance to you right now? And if we find that, what is important to do about it?

Finding the “co” is the “creation”.

Peri Mackintosh

Falling for the Formulaic?

fullsizerender-2

During Amjam today I spent the whole session with one participant.

I noticed how shifts in my perspective had radical effects on the work

By seeing X’s actions and speech as “stereotypical”, “repetitive behaviours”, “something she always does”, I found myself tending to –

  • Dismiss the nuance of her behaviour
  • Ignore her
  • Objectify her
  • Infantilise her

It was as though

  • Her speech became stripped of significance
  • My thinking and response to her became formulaic
  • She became more passive and inactive
  • I became distant , detached, as though I wasn’t really “in” her company. I became bored.

However, when I took her speech seriously, and attended to the nuance of her behaviour I noticed several things.

I saw her as an active woman who at times has difficulty between wanting something and initiating the action which would fulfil it. This appeared intensely frustrating for her.

When lightly supported with the linking between impulse and action she appeared to

  • assume agency
  • become significantly more active
  • speak directly in conversational
  • achieve what she wanted
  • become more responsive

I, in parallel, felt

  • involved
  • our relationship develop and expand fruitfully into fresh areas.

I was enthralled.

 

Peri Mackintosh

Irrespective

img_9428
The last training gave me a fresh perspective on Amjam.

The participants and I are largely acting irrespective of each other. 

I felt this in the training in a section focused on caring or being cared for.

In that exercise, what people did around me seemed shockingly irrelevant.

Since then I have been seeing something of the irrespective in my relationships with participants.

Its as though the participant and I are two trains going in very different directions. On different tracks.

What I took as signals that we were on the same track, I now question.

Often what made me assume we were on the same track was what I thought was a correlation of my actions and the response I saw.

However, In looking more closely over the last few months since the training, I see those responses are occurring irrespective of my actions.

This raises two points for me.

  • How closely have I really been paying attention over the past 20 years?
  • The participants have been more interested in something other than what I have been doing!

The etymology for a number of words seemed to illumine something of what now seems to me to have been happening. I list them at the end.

One of the most striking comes from the etymology of irrespective. 

“not observing or noting with attention.” 

This neatly describes the dynamic that I realise some of the participants and I have shared in our relationships.

I have n’t seen what was going on. 

I have not noted with attention. 

I was “regardless” of the participant. The participants were also “regardless” of me.

We are in different worlds.

This has been a shock. I am still reeling from the tremors.

However, this has prompted me to look closer. To stay looking longer. To listen more. 

This is an uncomfortable experience. 

Acknowledging what is really happening, or not happening, between me and the participant is at times painful.

I notice the urge to do something, to look away. I notice the strong pull to hook up with my fellow facilitators. So much easier to be on the same page. On the same planet.

This is daunting. I don’t know where it will lead. I don’t know if it will lead anywhere.

On the other hand, it would be sad if I kept on doing what I had already done for the last 20 years!

REFERENCES

irrespective (adj.) 

1620s (implied in irrespectively), “disrespectful,” from assimilated form of in- (1) “not, opposite of” + respective in its sense of “regardful.” Meaning “without taking account of particular circumstances or conditions” had developed by 1690s, from the notion of “not observing or noting with attention.” In modern use it tends to be adverbial, in irrespective of, a use attested by c. 1800.

regard (n.) 

mid-14c., “a consideration; a judgment,” from Old French regard, from regarder “take notice of,” from re-, intensive prefix + garder “look, heed,” from Germanic (see guard (n.)). Meanings “a look, appearance; respect, esteem, favor, kindly feeling which springs from a consideration of estimable qualities” all recorded late 14c. Phrase in regard to is from mid-15c. (Chaucer uses at regard of).

regard (v.) 

mid-14c., “consider” (that something is so), from Middle French regarder “to look at,” from regard (see regard (n.)). Meaning “look upon, observe” is from 1520s, as is that of “observe a certain respect toward.” Related: Regarded; regarding.

respect (n.) 

late 14c., “relationship, relation; regard, consideration,” from Old French respect and directly from Latin respectus “regard, a looking at,” literally “act of looking back (or often) at one,” noun use of past participle of respicere “look back at, regard, consider,” from re- “back” (see re-) + specere “look at” (seescope (n.1)). Meanings “feeling of esteem excited by actions or attributes of someone or something; courteous or considerate treatment due to personal worth or power” are from 1580s, as is sense of “point, particular feature.”

respect (v.) 

1540s, “to regard,” from Middle French respecter “look back; respect; delay,” from Latin respectere, frequentative of respicere (seerespect (n.). Meaning “treat with deferential regard or esteem” is from 1550s. Sense of “refrain from injuring” is from 1620s. Meaning “have reference to” is from 1560s. Related:Respected; respecting. 

To respect the person was “show undue bias toward (or against) based on regard for the outward circumstances of a person;” hencerespecter of persons, usually with negative, from Acts x:34, in the 1611 translation.

regardless (adj.) 

“indifferent,” 1590s, from regard (n.) + -less. Elliptical for “regardless of consequences, expenses, etc.,” from 1872.

Memory and Place: Sensory improvisation within nursing homes. David Slater describes visiting the work with intro from Rebecca Swift

Ambient jam dance artists and musicians are currently embedded in different day centres and nursing homes in Southwark for a project called ‘Memory and Place’. Commissioned by Siobhan Davies dance studios the project explores the communal response across generations to complex changes and re-development within Elephant and Castle. Through Memory and Place buried bits of history are surfacing, shared by the older generation, that have a powerful potential to make sense of the present, and the future. Through words, movement, music and gesture, a communal tapestry of thought is emerging that cuts across the walls of different organisations, day centres and groups to form a different map of Southwark through the knowledge, vision and stories of the community. However, equally importantly the project heralds the building of new relationships with older people in a Southwark nursing home.

The essences of an Ambient jam approach developed and deepened over decades through the collaboration between musicians and dancers and people with complex and profound disabilities can be very naturally applied, translated and adapted into co-creative, sensory led work with older people living in nursing homes.The integrity of improvisation, body -led intelligence, sensory response to site and buildings, and relational practise remains the same, however stories and narratives emerge verbally as well as non-verbally, and sometimes other structural approaches are forged.

Entelechy’s director, David Slater, recently visited the work at Tower Bridge Nursing home animated by dancer Shakti Gomez and musician Jai Channa:

“The sign on the door says library but in truth there aren’t many books in the room. Not that that matters. It’s full to bursting with a kind of expectancy. I met a woman once in Minneapolis and she said that cities were like libraries and all of the people were the books. She said that it would be a much better place if everyone had time to read each other. And that’s what seems to be happening here as we all sit in a circle around the walls of this small and comfortably crowded space. There is this quality of being together, and anticipation. A quality of listening.

The man sitting beside me leans forward and takes me into his confidence: –

“I’m pretty shy with people but since I’ve been coming here I’ve been building myself up”

The chat and the business of arrival segues into an invitation for each of us to fill the space with a word, a sound, an expression. The opportunity is being created for anything to happen. That is no tyranny of expectation:

“I love you for sentimental reasons” a woman sings.

We start moving gently in our seats:

“I dream of you every morning and think of you every night”

There is an atmosphere of reverie.

“I feel I’m on top of the world.” One woman says. It makes you wonder what the view is like. ”

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Dance artist Yolande Bramble Carter , Tinker bell the rabbit, and Eileen – emerging dancer and resident at Tower Bridge nursing home.