Navigating Sentient Performativities Symposium Part Three

Navigating Sentient Performativities Symposium Dartington Hall June 2022 (Part Three).

We got drenched with Sarah Hyde leading a Participatory Movement Ritual in another meadow. We were drenched in dreaming and the silence of grasses. It reminded me of times as a child when I just gave in to the rain and got wet through. The session was a deep work of pilgrimage and honouring. Thank you, Sarah.

The rest of Tuesday consisted of three extraordinary performances: Hilary Kneale’s Stillness of Horses which I attended because of the title, and Andrew Carey’s exquisite abegen – The Beloved Erupts, a participatory poem-film with interactive movement and live music.  The third performance was impromptu and occurred due to a chance visit from Jean-Renat Anamah and  Isabelle Chowree from Madagascar.  It proved to be a late night with performances almost back to back. I was talking with Jean-Renat the following morning about appreciating the skill and improvisationary nature of the performance within a structure. I promptly found myself being interviewed by him for the purposes of promotion. I wish I had that kind of nerve.

The following morning was sunny and lush following the torrents of rain we had experienced the previous afternoon and night.

Wednesday was the final day for me. I attended two presentations following a morning recce to the Animate-in-Animate Collective’s site I referred to in Part One of this triple offering.

Miranda Whall is a formidable artist with a durational practice that really appealed to me because of the crawling aspects of the practice which for me links with my own explorations of what we refer to in Amerta Movement as The Basics. In Crossed Paths – Crawling with Trees she demonstrated the ritual transportation of trees on her back, from a variety of perspectives captured on cameras strapped to her body. Her work resonated since I have for many years explored stone, trees and the body.

Following Miranda’s presentation, I attended Rob and Dr Harriet Fraser’s presentation Still/Walking. They make long journeys through the Lake District which result in public artworks.

Following this, I spent the rest of the morning with Animate-in-Animate which formed a writing after moving moment – a new poem.

Two final experiences that concluded my time at Dartington concerned the wrap-up and a glimpse of the Post Graduate Forum which began on Wednesday.

The ‘Wrap Up’ of Sentient Performativities was unhosted and unformed, so the frame for participation was open but in the dark space of Studio One.  The dark space is a black box space that I think can often court the confident.  There were some anxious observations around inclusion that seemed troubling for some participants. My experiences of people participating from different cultural backgrounds were rich at this symposium, though I guess, being in class-conscious Britain, representations from ‘working cultures’ take different forms. I knew of one other practitioner who, like me identified as working class. Certainly, I didn’t come across performances made by disabled practitioners but that doesn’t mean to say they weren’t represented.  I was curious about the leap to anxiety about inclusion that came out as a final discussion point. I thought about this nod to neo-liberalism and the compulsion to prove worth.

I felt included when often I have felt excluded in other situations. Practitioners of Asian origin seemed content and more concerned about an argument being raised from times long gone by.  I think the exclusion/inclusion theme here relates more to the tribe notion I alluded to in previous posts about this symposium.  This work is so spreading and circular, rhizomatic and dense, there were many tribes represented. Inclusion of all tribes who wanted to participate might have been the aim and hence the density of the final programme to the point that it required careful intuitive navigation.

The final moment for the Symposium concluded with another Mudra Meditation closing session with Mita Solanky aka Saintly Amok and it was a fitting ending.

A final word about Sarah Boreham whose fascinating practice fell victim to technology and time at the Post Graduate Symposium. I know Sarah and it was a sad miss for everyone that she didn’t get to present properly.

Perhaps again this was part of the challenge of this mammoth task with limited resources straddling three of four partnerships but held together by a small organisation operating out of a room at home, like most of us.

Thank you Richard Povall and Minou Tsambika-Polleros


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