sunnuntai 10. maaliskuuta 2024

Glimpses of something else – Shared solo processes during 2019–2023

Jos haluat lukea tämän Häivähdyksiä muusta -  Jaettuja sooloprosesseja vuosien 2019-2023 aikana -tekstin suomeksi, tässä linkki : 

Immersions in one’s own movement and writing

I had long hoped to facilitate a small group of interested people to have the space and time to work on their own movement and writing. It was also my wish to be present as a co-creator in a project where the creative process, sharing it, working in the same space, paying attention to others and giving feedback to others’ work through word and movement would be at the heart of the activity.

How do people from different backgrounds create their own space in a dance studio and, after an initial and mutual tuning into movement, immerse themselves in their own solo movement practice? Can you support others working in the shared space through your own practice? Does creativity create more creativity and can one feel something in one’s own practice strengthen precisely because there are other people working on their own practices in the same space at the same time? 

Can the idea of solo practice as a purely solitary process be pushed aside as one of many alternatives? What help or joy is or could be derived from sharing such processes?

My work on solo practice processes has grown from my long-standing interest in process-centred practices and the creations of artistic projects, experiments and practices, supported by sharing and discussions with others. The idea is that no one creates or generates (no need to) alone but always in relationship and dialogue with others. For several years I have been a bystander in various mentoring or guiding roles. I have had the opportunity to observe different people exploring movement and working on their creative processes leading to presentations. These have been colleagues, dance or live art students, professionals from other disciplines and people of all ages and different backgrounds who are interested in experiential movement and contemporary dance. 


I have also pursued my own solo practice, which over three decades has consisted of writing, exploratory movement and improvisation, and sharing the work with others. Often ideas and experiments that have come up in my own practice have been transformed into exercises, ways of working, project ideas or dialogues. Recently, I have been thinking about the significance of my own creative practice as a way of recovering from the world and as an important source of self-knowledge and reflection. I feel that the potential of recovering from the world is also present in Glimpses of something else-practice.

We are all creative and always in motion

“Creativity is not the prerogative of the rich but a property of the brain”

Neuroscientist David Eagleman

In the solo processes and dance workshops of Glimpses of something else we have worked on ways of being aware of movement as both information and inspiration, and have experientially explored movement dialogues with the self and the world around us. The aim has been to creatively explore and experiment with personal movement and the infinite pathways of movement. The main focus in work related to the here and now is on the experiential observation of the present moment and how the streams of memories, imagination or even mental imagery flow in one’s own thinking, experience and improvisation.

All of us are in motion and, like the world, always on the move. One could actually think that we don’t need to start moving because we already are. What do I notice or what happens to my dance when I creatively dive into exploring myself in movement or my ways of moving, or when I deviate from my familiar movement paths? Even slowing down my own movement from the speed I’m used to, playing with rhythm, movement qualities or changing position or place can open doors to improvisation and discovering a multiplicity of options.

The process-centred approach has created a basis for dialogue, experimentation, choices and sharing that take place during the solo practices, as well as for the dismantling of expectations. Ideas or actions do not have to be finished or polished in order to share them with others. Process-centredness offers space and time to explore our own interpretations, variations and experiments and their relationship to our own history, experiences and all that has already been done and exists. There may also be something to unpack in the idea of permission and who gets to dance or be creative. Even if I am not a “professional” or experienced in contemporary dance and improvisation, can I still be confident and experienced in my own creative movement practice? If movement is information, how do I read my movement – my own dance or that of others? Are the movement patterns that I often do something I learned long ago and carried in my movement memory? Do different words, such as dance or performance, activate particular movement vocabularies?  Am I allowed to be creative, to change, to alter, to exchange, to experiment… 


Encounters at the grassroots level

“If you know when you start where you are going to finish, nothing happens between the beginning and the end” (Brian Massumi, 2002)

What is process-centred creative practice? How do you set goals, or can you set goals? Solo practice can produce very different results and outcomes. Not everything can, and need not, be a shareable work performed on a stage or a result of a creative process that needs to fit into a more traditional way of thinking. Each practice session can itself be an output or a work of art. In some situations, we might notice that the solo process has in fact already begun long ago and will continue long after the moments of working together.

Sometimes goals and objectives fall apart or change as the process progresses. That’s what I experienced, for example, as this project’s facilitator. In the work plan, I still thought that in the spring 2023 project of Glimpses of something else, we could share some of the solo practice outcomes with different local audiences. That’s what we had done before with another project and with one of the previous Glimpses of something else solo projects.


                               photo: Elina Iijalainen

Even before and during the small group work period of spring 2023, the idea of letting the participants decide what they want to do in terms of sharing, as well as deciding their own audience, became increasingly important.

What if the most important thing in the whole process and practice is to be the most important audience for yourself and your dance, and to do an audience outreach project with yourself first? After having been experientially present and in motion with your own creative thinking and doing, what do you then discover about meeting and working with other people or your relationship with the outside world in general?

I have deliberately reflected on and modified terms that are also used in the field of art. In addition to the term audience outreach, I have also considered the word grassroots and what it means or could mean in creative practice. In my own thinking, I associate grassroots with embodied awareness and people encountering themselves, others and the world in the present moment. Instead of searching for an end result, the focus is on the uniqueness of moments, being in motion and in the midst of everything with a potential of multiple directions, alternatives and choices. At the grassroots level, there is time and space to notice things, experiences and movement in oneself, in others and in the environment; how the light changes, how the warmth feels on the skin, a knock somewhere, thoughts fluttering, a shadow, movement changing direction… 

It’s not just about the artist acknowledging, influencing or getting influenced at the grassroots level. Both the solo practice processes for Glimpses of something else and other Tracing Suburbia projects include a proposal for a grassroots encounter for all and in all work. If you're bolstered by a process-centred approach, it is easier to descend from goal-oriented thinking – to a practice that draws more on embodied awareness and improvisation. The grassroots offers endless opportunities to create and experiment with different invitations the present moment offers. Experiments in themselves generate further concepts and frameworks for participation, action or influence.


Multi-layered creative dialogue between and with different people in 2019–2023

The solo process practices for Glimpses of something else has been a project combining experimental, movement-based exploration and writing, in which participants have shared the discoveries, sketches and transformations that have emerged during the process with each other and with visiting viewers.

A longer working process, Glimpses of something else – A Solo Work for Tuula, was a collaboration between the undersigned and Tuula, who found her way to contemporary dance after retirement. Our collaboration, which took place during 2019–2023, was based on dialogue, first-hand experience, writing and working with somatically-oriented movement practice and improvisation. We were also inspired by the poetry of Eeva-Liisa Manner. The solo was completed in a process-like manner. We shared our work in various stages of development to different audiences and discussed it with them. One’s own lived life and different periods of life were strongly present in our working process through various layers of gestures, movements and postures. Reflection on how we as human beings encounter sensitivity, maturity, strength or incompleteness – the familiar and the unfamiliar in this time – was also present during the working process as well as in the ensuing performance and discussions.

“Yes, I’ve always been the blues.

I climbed a high hill with a view, I climbed Karhutunturi with an even better view. From the highest point I shouted loud enough to hear: I’ve always been the blues.

I am a stillness, a shooting star, a movement, a whirl, a premonition.

And now I’m dancing, me, an old woman, and so I dance.

I’m free to the winds of the world. I’m the imprint of movement, I’m a reach towards the finished, but only a reach.

I am no danger or threat to anyone. I owe no one.

Now I am the blues again, I always have been.”

– Tuula


Small group work on solo processes was carried out during the spring of 2023. Five people of different ages and backgrounds worked individually and together on dance, writing and personal solo practice processes. 

The collaborative and functional focus of the practice were the small showings and experiments that were carried out at different stages of the process and shared with other participants and people invited to the event. Writing about and sharing experiences and thoughts from one’s own solo practice, observing the work of others and discussing it were an important part of it all.

“I could write so many words, and yet the mysterious always remains with us. Words cannot tell all about movement, for movement contains all words, movement is movement, movement is medicine, movement is the broom on which I fly. But words can point in a direction. A phrase that left an after-feeling on the skin and body could be this: All moments are here at once, you are in conversation with all the currents of the universe.”

– Pisko


How do we discuss the creative process with ourselves or with others?

What is my way of remembering or documenting, do I write down or draw my experiences, or do I believe I will remember later, that my body and movement will remember, recall?

What inspires me? What moves me forward? Do I recognise what guides my goals?

How do I recognise or notice my own processing, my creative process in movement?

Can I continue with movement where the words left off or by writing, gliding into the moving? Do the words and movement fall into different layers, do they whisper to each other or lean on each other, do they move closer, further away or over and through each other?

How do I recognise the impact of the words or how the dance is still going on?

“I’m leafing through a notebook. I didn’t write very much about dancing while I was dancing. I’m still amazed at the variety of steps that went into this spring’s dance endeavour. I found myself in different landscapes (light creeping into the room), bodily sensations (bones churning in the water), childhood memories (flashbacks), etc…

Do I want to move slowly stretching, floating, evaporating, listening to my surroundings?

I stop, twirling, flying gently.

I dance with doubt, with caution, with hope.

Imagining, hoping that through movement, through dancing, through other dancers, something has opened, expanded, deepened. Self-knowledge, understanding, joy.”

– Pirkko


Solo practice process could be described as a creative practice of exploring oneself in the world and in movement – one that encourages continuity, without really having a clear beginning or end. It is a way of being present both to oneself and to one’s surroundings, and of noticing the potential of movement’s alternatives. What becomes important are the co-creators, the commentators and sharers of the processes, sharing the same space and the sense of working together even when everyone is working on their own.

“An onion peeling dance, the removal of layers, and then, a movement like wrapping yourself in your most beloved sweater. A wild unravelling of the light of reason. The courage to be, to dare, to go towards. A connection with the internal. Pleasure. Knowledge resting in silence. The movement of the ocean within me. An inner shower rinsing the subconscious. A surrender to the question mark that is life. It is with movement that I realise: my heart knows that sometimes it exudes a powerful force. To open my eyes, to be alive.”

– Pisko


A warm thank you to everyone who participated in Glimpses of something else and its workshops! Thanks also to Tuuli Sarivaara, Pirkko Autio and Pisko Aunola for reading this text and for permission to use excerpts from your texts, and thanks also to Anniina and Tiitta for reading and commenting.

Citations used in the article: Neuroscientist David Eagleman’s phrase about creativity as a property of the brain from the documentary The Creative Brain, and a quote by Brian Massum from Jussi Onnismaa’s book Organisaation aika, muisti ja etiikka. The quotations are not in their original form but freely translated from Finnish.

Helsinki, September 2023

Pia Lindy

The Kone Foundation awarded Pia Lindy a personal working grant for the period 2022–2023. The grant plan included the text Tanssitaiteilijana erilaisissa ympäristöissä ja konteksteissa -teemoista kuten ympäristötanssista, kaupunginosatyöskentelystä ja kaupunginosataiteilijuudesta kirjoittaminen.

Translated by Essi Brunberg.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti